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One of the nice things about the city that I live in - Ottawa, Canada - is that it is situated very close to a scenic natural park - Gatineau Park, to be precise. Gatineau Park offers a wilderness getaway that is perhaps 10 minutes' drive from the downtown core - something that is quite rare for an urban area of one million people.
Typical Park Roadsurface
For those that enjoy road cycling, there is one particular outstanding outing in the Ottawa region, and it is known locally as 'The Gatineau Loop'. It is a road-cycling route that describes a lollypop-like semi-loop on the Park's three main parkway roads. It is outstanding for three main reasons: first, the road surfaces on these parkways is perfect for road cycling: extremely smooth, fairly wide, and with nice, gravel-free grassy verges. Secondly, the parkways wind through picture-perfect Canadian Shield Scenery: Mixed forests, rocky granite outcrops and hills, clear blue freshwater lakes and ponds, and, near the top end, panoramic vistas of the Ottawa Valley. And thirdly, as mentioned earlier, its proximity to downtown Ottawa.
Champlain Lookout
I've cycled this loop many times; it makes an excellent training and exercise ride as well as providing a way to 'get out' into the wilderness. I've always thought it would be nice to provide a cyclist's-eye-view picture report of this highly popular outing, and thus we have this report.

I've located the start of my tour of the loop at Ottawa's Central Experimental Farm - itself a relatively scenic destination. This spot is a reasonably generic place to locate the start and the end of my accounting of the loop, and the route from there to Gatineau Park mostly follows scenic roads or bike paths.

So, without further ado, here's the start of my accounting of this ride. We begin on Ash Lane in Ottawa's Central Experiemental Farm - a beautiful farm road lined with big oaks. From here, you cycle north until reaching the NCC 'Driveway', which is a parkway-like road leading through the farm. You turn left here, and either cycle on the road itself or use the cycle path on the left-hand side.
Start Point
Ash Lane
The 'Driveway'
In short order, the 'Driveway' turns into Island Park Drive (as it crosses Carling Avenue). You continue north on Island Park drive, which has good marked bike lanes in each direction. Island Park Drive is quite nice in its own right - it is a leafy, park-like road with luxurious, high-end houses lining either side. Many of them are embassies, and if you look closely, you'll see the crests of many countries.
Island Park Drive
Island Park Drive Homes
Embassy of Peru
Island Park drive makes its way north, eventually arriving at the Ottawa River Parkway and the Ottawa River. Continuing north, you immediately come to the Champlain Bridge, which leads you across the very wide Ottawa River. The bridge is quite new and has excellent marked bike lanes in both directions. There are also very nice views from the bridge, including a great but distant view of downtown Ottawa. Halfway along this bridge, you cross from Ontario into Quebec.
Busy Island Park Drive
Bates Island
Champlain Bridge
Excellent Downtown Views
Excellent Downtown Views
Crossing into Quebec
Once over the Champlain Bridge, you make an immediate hard right. This is followed in a few feet by another right onto a cycle pathway. Follow this cycle pathway a few feet to a junction with another cycle pathway that parallels the Ottawa River, called the Voyageurs Pathway. Follow this pathway downstream (northeast, towards downtown). The pathway is pleasant and smooth, but can be somewhat busy at times.
Voyageurs Pathway
La Route Verte
Moussette Beach
Continue Following the pathway as it crosses through a park / beach area; continue along it until it re-enters wooded land and a series of tight turns and little up-and-down hills. You will presently come to a marked junction with a sign that indicates the way to Gatineau Park. Bear left here, and in less than a minute you the bike pathway will end on a residential street. The route turns right and proceeds about one hundred yards / metres to a stop light. On the other side of the road from the stop light is the boundary of Gatineau Park, and the start of the Gatineau Park cycle pathway.
Enjoying the Riverfront
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