Richard's GPS Trail Maps

This is not a "blog" in the sense of a daily journal but a place for me to post GPS trail maps of mountain biking and hiking trails, particularly but not exclusively, in the western Greenbelt in Ottawa, Ontario.

Date codes do not reflect actual posting dates but are manipulated to allow me to order the posts in a thematic order.

Please note that images, maps and photos, will be displayed in reduced size. To see the enlarged images click (or multi-click) on them.


Background - GPSing the Greenbelt Trails

First Published in MTBKanata Newsletter Winter 2007-01

How It All Began

It all started a long time ago in a faraway land in a cave. Well actually it was back in the 1950s in Sudbury in an eight room stone schoolhouse. That is where I first got introduced to colouring, drawing, and making maps.

Growing up in Sudbury is also where I got interested in playing in the rocks and exploring the bush. When I got older there was not a trail or back road I did not want to explore.

When I moved to Ottawa I discovered Renouf’s bookstore on the Sparks Street Mall (long since gone) which was a huge repository of topographical maps. I soon had topo maps for all of the Ottawa and Sudbury areas. I followed that up with map books and guides to old mines in Ontario. And just recently when I discovered the “backroad mapbooks” at Chapters I had to buy copies of all the books for any area I though we might travel to on our holidays.

Soon after I took up mountain biking, GPSs became all the rage but were still quite expensive to buy as a toy. Luckily I was given one as a gift by my wife Christine and that is where this story really begins.

I started using it to track our hikes and rigged up a way to attach it to my mountain bike using the rubber from an old tube (when I got my new Devinci I bought a proper bracket for the GPS). Then I started looking for a way to create maps from it. I discovered a freeware software program that allowed me to create “maps” that I could add symbols to, and with latitude and longitude indicated. But that was not really what I wanted.

What I really wanted was to overlay my GPS data onto topographical maps. But it was difficult to find easy to use, free, or inexpensive maps to use and the commercial software and maps were quite expensive. Then came Google Earth. Not topo maps, but perhaps even better, satellite images. With Google Earth Plus, for $20 a year I could overlay my GPS tracks onto the Google satellite images. I could become a “Map Maker”.

The Mapping Begins

So now all I had to do was ride around on the trails and plug the GPS into the computer and instant maps. If only it was that easy. The first thing that I discovered was that the GPS is not completely accurate (at least my Garmin Gecko 201 is not). You turn it on and you start tracking with an accuracy of within about 30 metres. As you pick up more satellites the accuracy increases to a maximum of about 8 metres. That is close enough to get you out of the bush when your lost but can result in double map tracks if you make multiple loops of the same trails. It can also result in a trail behind a group of houses going right through them on the map. The more you zoom in on Google Earth the more apparent those discrepancies become. So I developed some techniques to deal with that problem

I decided to start with my backyard, the Bridlewood area Old Quarry trails, and I learned just how extensive that network was when I set out to methodically ride all the trails. I started by mapping out the main access points, the old rail line and the trails and paths along both hydro lines that provided access to the real trails from the neighbourhoods. Then I hit the main and most common trails, 23, 24 and 25. But it was when I started riding and mapping all the side trails that I have been meaning to ride, as well as looking for hidden side trails, that I discovered how extensive and interconnecting the trail system is. This is when I discovered the hidden inner trail right next to trail 23.

It actually took me seven riding and mapping sessions to complete the Old Quarry Trail network plus another session for the Lime Kiln and Wild Bird Care Centre area trails. After that I decided to map some smaller trail areas so I did trails 20 to 22, followed by Jack Pine.

I am now in the process of doing Trails 26 and 27 across from Jack Pine on the other side of Hunt Club. While mapping these trails in early November, 2006 I discovered that the section I needed to map was muddy, muddier than I would normally ride. The cold weather is really hampering the drying out process. But I was on a mission so I persevered.

This is going to be one of the most complex systems to map. Besides a number of official loops there is almost an unlimited number of unofficial connecting and crossing trails which kept me going, mapping trails and marking waypoints at all the intersections in hopes of eventually linking them all up.

This was one of the muddiest rides I have been on. I usually try to avoid the mud, but as I say I was on a mission. So when I came to a wet area with about a foot of water and ice starting to cover it, and I could see the connecting trail a short way ahead on the GPS I had no choice but to break through the ice and ride through the water. there is always a first time for everything. Some time early next spring summer I hope to publish this map.

The GPSing Process

There are probably better ways of doing this but this is the process I have developed and it works for me.

Obviously I start by riding the trails with the GPS on. I would recommend using the most accurate GPS you can afford and preferably one that you can set to start a new track without having to turn it off and on again, necessitating a significant wait while it retracks the satellites. A smaller GPS is really convenient to use attached to a bike, although you have a smaller display, most of the work with the tracks is done on the computer afterwards. To avoid overlapping trails I never ride the same portion twice, unless I reset the track to a new track that can be deleted or turned off in Google Earth.

As I pass intersecting trails I mark waypoints to indicate intersecting trails for later mapping. I may come back to them during the same ride, either by memory or by starting a new track and following the GPS track back to the waypoint and again starting a new track to map the intersecting trail.

When I finish a GPSing session I input the GPS data into Google Earth via a serial cable attached to my computer’s serial port. Newer GPSs may use a USB cable. I then view the session’s tracks, deleting or hiding overlapping tracks. If in the middle of mapping an area I will print out a map with the waypoints for intersecting trails on the map and use this as a guide to mapping the intersecting trails during the next ride/mapping session. When I have completed GPSing all the trails for an are I want to create a map of I move to the next stage which takes place on the computer.

The Editing and Map Making Process

The first step is to select the area of the map from within Google Earth. Normally I do all my editing within Photoshop Elements. However in the case of the trail on the Old Quarry map that went through the houses I deleted the track that went through the Houses and recreated it in the correct spot using Google Earth’s line drawing capability, as it is more difficult to clone houses than to clone terrain.

But the usual process is to save the selected area as a jpg file and open it in Photoshop Elements. Sometimes there will be gaps in the track where the signal was lost in dense bush and sometimes the GPS will just do weird things and draw a line in the opposite of the correct direction or draw extraneous lines.

This happened while mapping Jack Pine. In Photoshop Elements I clone out incorrect lines and draw in correct ones. I also add in the parking lot numbers and the occasional point of interest such as the Lime Kiln. Until the final version is done the file is always saved as a Photoshop Elements file to retain image quality. When completed I add the title and save the file as a jpg for publication and then I release it to the world.

Easier Trail Mapping With My New GPS

First Published in The Fifth Column, September 29, 2008

Last year I started mapping the Greenbelt trails using my GPS unit. With my older GPS unit it was a long complicated process requiring that I avoid overlapping my tracks and involving extensive editing in Photoshop Elements. (See article in the MTBKanata Newsletter above)

With my new Garmin GPSMAP 60Cx,which is much more accurate, the process is much simpler.

When I recently mapped Greenbelt Trails 11 & 12 I did not have to worry about overlapping tracks nor did I have to do extensive editing. All that was required was to input the data into Google Earth and MapSource Topo Canada and save an image of the track, and then add whatever text or labels I wanted on the maps.

Posted 2009-05-30


Backroad Mapbooks GPS Map Review (Ontario)


Up until now I had used Topo Canada (ver. 2) from Garmin on my GPS for navigation and mapping, along with Google Earth. I was not completely happy with the detail it provided nor the fact that it was getting out of date. When ver. 4 came along (skipping ver. 3) I was interested in possibly upgrading as it did include some new 3D software functions. However, from what I could tell from the sample map utility on the Garmin website the maps did not seem to be particularly updated.

I also experimented with TopoFusion which provides access to the Natural Resources Canada map server and the most recent Canadian government maps. That provided an alternative view but it was still not completely satisfactory, as they are just flat maps without road or street names, etc.

So I was quite interested when the Backroad Mapbooks people contacted me to ask if they could use my GPS maps in a new product they were developing for Garmin GPS units, as I already owned several of their print volumes for parts of Ontario. Those discussions ended up with my offering them the GPS map data with no conditions but suggesting they provide me with a free copy of their Ontario GPS product, to which they responded positively.

I have had it for a few weeks now and it has become the default GPS map on my GPS unit for Ontario, as well as the most used map on my computer. Hopefully, as I continue to provide them with new and updated trail data they will continue to provide me with map updates.

The Review 
The first thing I should say, as I have learned as I have worked on writing this is that this should be considered a preliminary review (although I likely won't write another one as I think this will capture the spirit of the product and most of what I want to say) because I sense I still have a lot to learn about the depth and capabilities of this mapping software.

Let us skip ahead to the conclusion to say that it seems obvious from comparing Garmin's Topo Canada to Backroad Mapbooks Ontario GPS Map that Garmin is a technology company and Backroad Mapbooks is a mapping company.

First I should note that I did have a bit of a problem with my first attempt at installation until I went back and carefully read the actual instructions. That is to say, the install is not as intuitive as some of us lazy folk who hate to read instructions would like, but as long as you read the instructions all will be well.

Backroad Mapbooks GPS Maps work with MapSource so you do not have to learn a new software interface on the GPS or computer. One of the advantages of this is that it allows the Backroad MapBooks people to concentrate on what they do best, map-making rather than software development. Although it would be interesting to see what kind of software features they would add, based on their mapping experience.

The look, both on the GPS and computer is different, primarily because there is more detail provided, and that took some adjusting but I quickly decided I preferred BackRoad Mapbooks (BRM) to Garmin's Topo Canada (TC). BRM uses 10,000 and 20,000 scale maps rather tham TC's 50,000 and 250,000 scale maps so I was expecting to see a difference there. However the biggest difference is in what information BRM provides that TC does not.

Map of Choice For Outdoorspersons

One of the first things I noticed was that BRM has trails marked, which TC does not (with a few very rare exceptions). In particular they have the official NCC Greenbelt trails that I ride on (and map) included. I look forward to them adding my GPS maps which includes all the undocumented Greenbelt trails that are not on the official Greenbelt maps, along with the South March Highlands trails which they also lack at the moment.

Seeing this led me to check out the maps on the computer for trails I have recorded in Algonquin and Killarney provincial parks and they were on the map also, along with other trails in the parks. A quick overview of the Ontario map showed considerable trail coverage across the province, including the Bruce Peninsula National Park and the Bruce Trail so I will assume there is pretty decent coverage of all provincial and national parks.

Also included is what appears to be pretty comprehensive coverage of snowmobile trails, which provides a huge market for the product, as well as canoe routes and portages. Another quick review indicates that the map software includes an extensive collection of Points of Interest (POIs). The Backroad Mapbooks website provides an overview of the Ontario GPS Map Features as well as other information and tutorials on their GPS maps products.

This is indeed the GPS map of choice for outdoorspersons.

I also noticed pretty decent coverage of local walking/cycling paths when I was riding and similar decent coverage on the computer map, though there is definitely some room for improvement there. Indeed the biggest complaint I would have with the BRM map is that it is not perfect. 

Computer Map Comparisons
(Click on images to enlarge)

Google Earth View

TopoFusion Natural Resources Canada Map

Garmin Topo Canada Map

BackRoad Mapbooks Map

Unclassified Roads

One thing that did surprise me with TC was when it routed me from Killarney to Sudbury via roads that no longer exist, except as trails and that may not even be open because they go through Department of National Defence lands at the Old Burwash prison site. So I wanted to see how BRM handled the routing, and it used open main roads. BRM does have those roads marked but as "unclassified roads" rather than local roads.

I had already come across this caution about :"unclassified roads" in another review

There's quite a difference, isn't there? While fourwheeling and testing the maps, I did notice that the maps showed some roads that didn't exist, but that's because they were now heavily overgrown and had become single tracks. Personally, I would much rather see them on the map, than not see them at all. These were all marked as "unclassified roads" which was fair warning. The fun in exploring is to see which of these unclassified roads are actually passable and can take you to new places. And in that regard, Backroad GPS Maps is extremely useful for that kind of trip planning. In fact, it's dangerously easy to lose hours of your time, poring over potential trails to explore, and finding possible routes from one trail system to another. But if you're the kind of person that just wants to know where the known-to-be-good roads are, then just stick to using the roads that aren't marked as unclassified.

I must say that I agree with that view, as the more information for people searching for possible hiking or mountain biking trails the better. However BRM might want to put a caution on their "Legend" about unclassified roads.


One of the things that was annoying about TC was that updates to the map were not available and the only way to update the map was to purchase the newer version of the software. With BRM annual updates are available at a reasonable cost and there is a progam that provides free updates for users that submit trail and Point of Interest information.

It is very clear that BRM wants to make their product as complete and updated as possible for the outdoorsperson and is engaging the user community in that pursuit. My only concern would be that they ensure reasonable review and control over what is included from the submitted information.

Suggested Improvement

I have one suggested improvement and that relates to the comprehensiveness and extent of information provided on the map. There is a fine line between comprehensiveness and clutter and drawing that line is difficult. Rather than arbitrarily limiting the information included on the map I would suggest BRM let the user decide what information is viewed on the maps, not just in terms of degree (less to more) but in terms of categories. I would suggest the use of an interface similar to what Google Earth uses to show what Layers are shown. I would also suggest that users be able to select the categories shown both on the computer and GPS through a computer interface (easier to use than a GPS interface) and then synch the choices with the GPS.


It seems obvious to me, from comparing Garmin's Topo Canada to Backroad Mapbooks Ontario GPS Map, that Garmin is a technology company and Backroad Mapbooks is a mapping company run by outdoorspersons who truly love and believe in what they are doing.

Update 2012-05-05

As of Version 3.0 my GPS maps from this site current as of today have been added to the GPS and computer maps. 

Posted 2011-11-07 
Updated 2012-05-05


Downloading and Using GPX files

The GPS gpx files used for the maps on Richard's GPS Trail Maps web site can be downloaded from Google Docs.

However, you should be aware of the following. In most cases these gpx files cannot simply be uploaded to your GPS device because there are probably more than the 20 track limit allowed for Garmin devices. I do not know what the limits are for other devices.

This is primarily because the gpx files were used to create maps of extensive trail systems. This often involved multiple mapping sessions and multiple GPS tracks. As well, to avoid track overlap, particularly with my first GPS unit which was not as accurate as my current one, it was necessary to break up the tracks used to record the trails. Often editing of the tracks created very many separate track files.

The best way to use the gpx files is to load them onto software such as Garmin MapSource. You can then create new tracks of your planned route by tracing over the tracks on the map and upload those tracks to your GPS unit. That is the method that I use and it works very well. Note that this does not work very well if you use "white" tracks that blend in with the the MapSource background.

If you do not have a GPS unit you can still use the gpx files by loading them onto software that has background maps, such as TopoFusion, or Google Earth, and see the detailed tracks over the maps or satellite image.

If you do download the gpx files please email me at and let me know so that I have an idea of how many people are downloading and using the files. They can be downloaded by clicking the link below:

GPX files - Google Docs

Posted 2011-10-04
Updated 2012-05-23


Western Greenbelt Trails

Most of the trails that I have mapped have been in the Western Greenbelt between Nepean and Kanata in the zone designated as Core Natural Area, and in particular the Stony Swamp area, as I can ride from home to all of these trails. These trails include the Old Quarry and Jack Pine trail networks, the Lime Kiln Trail and parts of the Rideau Trail. The NCC does publish an official map of these trails but it does not include the large number of unofficial undocumented trails that interconnect with the official trails. My projects sets out to map all of the trails in the Western Greenbelt.

Background on the National Capital Greenbelt (from the NCC)

The Greenbelt is a 20,350 hectare band of open lands and forests surrounding the nation's Capital on the Ontario side of the Ottawa River. It was first proposed in 1950 by French planner Jacques Gréber as part of an overall plan to create a beautiful and distinctive setting for the national Capital. The Greenbelt was intended to protect the rural land bordering the Capital from the haphazard urban sprawl typical of so many other cities.

Acting on Gréber's plan, the federal government began acquiring land in 1956. Today, the Greenbelt encircles the Capital from Shirleys Bay on the west to Green's Creek on the east. Most of the total area, or 14,950 hectares, is owned and managed by the National Capital Commission. The rest is held by other federal departments and private interests.

In the Greenbelt, the nation's Capital has on its doorstep a rural environment rich in natural and historic resources. It offers a mix of sights and sounds from rolling farmlands to peaceful forests and wetlands that shelter a wide variety of plant and animal life. We hope you'll be inspired to head out and explore the Greenbelt for yourself!

For the official NCC Greenbelt Trail Maps see here.

For more information on the National Capital Greenbelt see the National Capital Commission (NCC) Greenbelt website.

Mountain Biking on the Trails

The Greenbelt trails vary from some very easy trails in parts of Old Quarry and Jack Pine to moderately technical sections of the Rideau Trail to the more advanced Lime Kiln Trail.

While mountain biking is officially prohibited on the Greenbelt Trails, it is tolerated. In the words of an from an email from an NCC representative, dated May 12, 2006
We know that there is a lot of interest in off-road riding on Greenbelt hiking trails. On the other hand, section (16) of the NCC Traffic & Property Regulations states..."No person shall ride a bicycle on property of the Commission other than a driveway or on a bicycle path set aside by the Commission for the purpose...". While we have not actively tried to enforce this particular regulation, we do not condone the practice. There are long-term impacts on the trails and surrounding area, particularly rutting, trail erosion, trail widening as users veer off the designated route to avoid ruts and muddy surface, and destruction of adjacent vegetation. In the winter, we want to discourage bike riders who may travel across groomed ski tracks.
To read why I believe mountain biking should be officially allowed on the Greenbelt Trails read my submissions to the NCC Why Mountain Biking Should Be Allowed on the Greenbelt Trails and Winter Trail Conflicts on the Greenbelt Trails on my blog The Fifth Column

Posted 2009-05-30
Updated 2015-08-25


Stony Swamp Conservation Area Trails

More detailed maps of the trail systems within the Stony Swamp Conservation Area can be found following this posting.

The gpx file for this overview map (and other trail systems) can be downloaded by clicking the link below:

GPX files - Google Docs

Background Information From the National Capital Commission (NCC)

Stony Swamp Conservation Area comprises almost 2000 hectares of woodland, wetland and regenerating old field, and has the largest forested area in the Greenbelt. The upland and wetland habitats found in the area include examples of most of the types of natural habitats that can be found in Ontario south of the Ottawa River.

Over 700 species of plants are known from Stony Swamp. Many interesting plant communities can be found here including a sugar maple forest, small alvar clearings, marsh wetlands and beaver ponds, and regenerating pastures. Stony Swamp Conservation Area also supports a large variety of wildlife such as Canada geese and other waterfowl, beaver, woodland birds and northern flying squirrel.

The Stony Swamp Conservation Area offers the greatest diversity of trails and activities, including: interpretive exhibits on geology and natural history; wetland boardwalks; a winter bird-feeding station; historic sites such as the Lime Kiln; and portions of the Rideau and Trans Canada trails.

The area itself is bordered to the north by Robertson Road; to the east by Highway 416; to the south by Fallowfield Road and to the west by Eagleson Road.

Trails in this area include:

-Jack Pine Trail (includes boardwalk, accessible via parking lot P9, trail length: 3,1 km)
-Old Quarry Trail (includes boardwalk, accessible via parking lot P5, trail length: 3,1 km)
-Beaver Trail and Chipmunk Trail (includes boardwalk, accessible via parking lot P8, trail lengths: 1,2 km and 0,7 km)
-Sarsaparilla Trail (Parking lot P7, trail length: 0,9 km)
-Lime Kiln Trail (Parking lot P10, trail length: 2,1 km)
-Trail #23 (Parking lot P5, trail length: 2,6 km)
-Trail #24 (Parking lot P5 or P6, trail length: 3,4 km)
-Trail #25 (Parking lot P6, trail length: 3,5 km)
-Trail #26 (Parking lot P8, P9 or P11, trail length: 3,8 km)
-Trail #27 (Parking lot P11 or P13, trail length: 3 km)
-Trail #28 (Parking lot P13, trail length: 2,3 km)

To view these and other trails within the Greenbelt, please consult the our official NCC maps available here.

More information on Stony Swamp Conservation Area can be found on our Web site.

Posted 2011-10-11
Updated 2016-07-02


Old Quarry Trail System Remapped 2015

This trail system was the first one I mapped in 2005 using my first less accurate GPS and untried methodology. Since then I have acquired a newer more accurate GPS and refined my methodology. As well since then many trails have become grown over or abandoned and new ones have been created and discovered. Therefore I have completely remapped this trail system during July and August 2015.

These are my neighbourhood trails, less than a kilometre from home to the paths leading to the trails and under two kilometres to the actual dirt trails. That being said, It was not until I undertook this mapping project that I actually managed to ride all of the trails. As you can see from the map there is a complex network of inter-connected trails, more than half of which are unofficial and not on the NCC map.

The trails lie between Bridlewood and Bells Corners and are accessible from NCC parking lots P5 on Eagleson Road across from the Hazeldean Mall, and NCC parking lot P6 on Old Richmond Road, as well as from numerous trail entrances within the two communities.

These are great trails for someone starting out in mountain biking because they provide a wide range of difficulty from easy flat gravel trails to intermediate level rooty and rocky trails.

The Maps
Official NCC Map with Trail Numbers

Official NCC Map with Intersection Numbers

Official Rideau Trail Map

Topographical Map

Google Earth View Annotated Map with Trail Names
Larger full size map may be downloaded here

The Trails  

I have found it almost impossible to list these trails geographically in any systematic way so please accept this listing as it is and refer to the annotated map for more definite locations.

Trans-Canada Trail (TCT)
The portion of the Trans-Canada Trail that passes through the Old Quarry Trail System is a wide gravel stone dust trail that follows a former rail line right-of-way. To the south it continues to follow the old rail line to Carleton Place and to the north it leaves the rail line route and continues to the Ottawa River. It acts as a separator and connector of the different sections of the trail system, as well as providing access to the trails from the rest of Ottawa.

Rideau Trail 
The Rideau Trail is a “footpath” between Ottawa and Kingston. Within the Old Quarry Trail System it starts at the trestle over Robertson Road and ends at NCC Parking Lot P6. The portion that goes through the Old Quarry Trail System serves as an intermediate level mountain biking trail with rocky and rooty sections. It has some of the most technical sections of the Old Quarry Trail System.

Hydro Line Trail

The trail labelled Hydro Line on the map simply acts as a connector between the Old Quarry Trail System dirt trails and the paved urban pathways within the Bridlewood Community. As it's name suggests it follows along a hydro line (the small one).

Trail 23
At NCC Parking Lot P5 we have the main Old Quarry Trail, Trail 23. Within it are two easy gravel loops that are great to start the young ones out on and great for riding in the spring when the dirt trails are muddy. Connected to these is a slightly harder dirt loop leading to Trail 24 at the back of Old Quarry and an intermediate level rocky and rooty trail near the centre that connects to the Trans-Canada Trail. Also connected to Trail 23 are unofficial trails that are not on the official NCC maps, like many of the trails mapped in this project.

Deer Feeder Trail

The Deer Feeder Trail is sometimes known as the Deer George Trail because of the plaques at the unofficial deer feeding stations honouring George who used to feed the deer that inhabit the Old Quarry Trail System. It is a narrow twisty single-track trail that has several small re-routes due to trees falling in the relatively dense bush it goes through. One end of the trail features an open area with small cliffs great for playing around in on a mountain bike. It would make an excellent site for a Beginner Mountain Biking Park, as I have written in this blog posting: THE FIFTH COLUMN: Old Quarry Youth Mountain Bike Skills Park.

Inside Trail
This was called Hidden Trail on the previous version of this map, but because it really is not hidden I have changed the name. It runs inside sections of the official Trail 23, thus the name. It is also a narrow single-track trail, with a couple of spur lines, but not quite as twisty as the Deer Feeder Trail.

ANT and Bed Pan Trail
These two trails are northeast of the Robertson Road end of Trail 24, They provide a narrow single-track route to the trails on the other side of Robertson Road as a more interesting ride or hike than following the wider official trails.

Trail 24
Trail 24 has dual characteristics as it is a merger of the original Trails 24 and 25 after the NCC decided to use the Trail 25 designation on the other side of Old Richmond Road for the Lime Kiln area trails.

The original Trail 24 consisted of wide trails that acted as fire roads, one running from the large Bridlewood Hydro Line near Scissons Road to Robertson Road. The other running off of that towards Bells Corners.

The other major part of Trail 24 are the sections that go up and down to NCC parking Lot P6, which were formerly designated as Trail 25. These were probably the most technical sections of trail in the system, especially climbing up through the rooty and rocky sections, before the new MNT Trail was discovered. The Rideau Trail follows part of this section of Trail 24.

Parallel Trail

To the west of Trail 24 south of the Trans-Canada Trail is a trail that runs parallel to Trail 24 and the subdivision to the west of it, known as the Parallel Trail. This is a narrow single-track trail that is not overly technical but is more enjoyable than riding or hiking the wide Fire Road that is Trail 24. Part of that trail had become part of the lost overgrown trails in the system but was recently recovered. There are a number of links from Trail 24 to the Parallel Trail, including one across from the famous Roller Coaster Trail. In places these trails really have the feeling of being deep in the bush.

Roller Coaster Trail

Across from the Parallel Trail along Trail 24 between the Trans-Canada Trail and the section of Trail 24 that heads towards Bells Corners is the famous Roller Coaster Trail. It gets it's name from the dips (or Whoop-De-Dos) along the trail. It also has the famous almost ninety degree about two metre drop just before it joins up with the Anti-Logger Trail (which is also part of the Rideau Trail), but there is a ride-around.

MNT and Extension Trails
The newly discovered MNT and Extension Trails are single-track trails that start along the Trans-Canada Trail, at the end of Bed Pan, and go to the wide section of Trail 24 that goes towards Bells Corners. They cross the Roller Coaster Trail. MNT, north of Roller Coaster, may be the most technical and difficult of the Old Quarry Trail System Trails, requiring me to walk parts of it. Extension, south of Roller Coaster, is easier and more flowy.

Anti-Logger Trail
Anti-Logger goes along the south side of the pond near Bells Corners. Before the Roller Coaster intersection are some of the most technical rooty sections of trail in the Old Quarry Trail System, as well as some of the most chronically muddy sections. After that the trail becomes more flowy. The Rideau Trail follows Anti-Logger.

Logger Trail
Logger Trail goes along the north side of the pond near Bells Corners. A short cut from one part of Trail 24 to another it provides a relatively flowy single-track alternative to the wide Trail 24.

Subdivision Trail

Subdivision Trail is a very flowy single-track trail that runs behind the subdivision in Bells Corners.

Ridge Line/Chapel Trail

This is a fun short section of flowy trail that, as it's name suggests, follows the ridge line from the wide section of Trail 24 to the single-track section of Trail 24 that goes down to NCC parking lot P6. The Chapel portion of the name comes from a chapel-like rock structure built along the trail that has been demolished by trail vandals.

Rock Garden Trail

The Rock Garden Trail is a short very rocky single-track trail that goes from Trail 24 near the big hydro line and connects to the Scissons Trails under the hydro line

Scissons Trails

This is the part of the Old Quarry Trail System that is the furthest from NCC parking lot P5. Adjacent to Scissons Road, it is in the far southeast corner of the trail system closer to NCC parking lot P6 on Old Richmond Road than to P5.

I first discovered these trails a few years ago, although like any place discovered (think America) I am sure they were there for quite awhile before I stumbled onto them. Last season during a night group ride I discovered that there was more than I thought and when I set about mapping them this season I discovered even more trails.

There are only about 5 km of distinct trails here but with doing loops and overlaps you could do a 10 km ride just in that section but you will usually do parts of it as part of a larger ride of the Old Quarry Trails.

These trails are of intermediate technical difficulty with many easy flowy sections and some twisty and rocky sections.

Middle Earth
Middle Earth was on the original map and we used to ride it during group rides several years ago. It is/was a somewhat hidden and very interesting trail, very technical in places, that reminds me of Middle Earth, hence the name.

Middle Earth is one of those trails that I was not sure still existed, having not rode or hiked it for several seasons. I expected there would be lots of fallen trees over the trail from storms over the last few years and it might be overgrown in sections. So I set out to see if I could still follow the trail or open it up. It turned out to be quite a challenge and I lost the trail numerous times, even with the GPS track to follow and red markings on trees for part of it. I roughly followed 75 percent of the trail, having to climb through heavy bush in some cases, before losing it completely. Probably about 80% of the 75% of trail I followed is decent trail but in somewhat unconnected sections. Since having known the trail fairly well, having a map and GPS track, I still kept getting lost I decided it was best to remove it from the Old Quarry Trail System Map and GPS tracks as I do not want to encourage people to get lost in the bush.

Map of My Attempt to Follow the Middle Earth Trail

With a lot of work the Middle Earth Trail might be able to be re-established, but until then I will leave it off the map and GPS tracks.

The area where Middle Earth is located is indicated in small white type on the Annotated Map.

Concluding Words on The Trails
The descriptions above do not really do justice to just how enjoyable it is to ride these trails. Although relatively close to roads and civilization many of the trail sections make you feel like you are in the wilderness because the bush is so dense. There are portions that are technically challenging and portions you can just race around in. You can literally spend a whole day in here just tooling around on your bike. But remember to always be respectful of other trail users.
GPS gpx Files

The gpx file for this trail system (and other trail systems) can be downloaded by clicking the link below:

GPX files - Google Docs

If you do download the gpx file please email me at and let me know so that I have an idea of how many people are downloading and using the files.

Slide Show of A Typical Old Quarry Trails Ride

Viewing Slide Show Full Screen Recommended  

Posted 2015-08-25
Updated 2017-06-15 


Lime Kiln Trail System Remapped 2015

During the summer of 2012 there was a fire near the Lime Kiln in the Stony Swamp Conservation Area that resulted in a large network of fire roads and made significant changes to the trails, especially the Lime Kiln Technical Trail.

After the fire the Lime Kiln Technical Trail was fenced off and Trail Closed signs were put up. Since then the trail has been re-opened and the trail closed signs removed, though remnants of the fence remain. As well most of the fire roads have been closed and re-naturalized and one section of trail not near the fire site has been abandoned, overgrown and no longer exists.

This remapping reflects the trail system as it is today.

The Lime Kiln Trail System includes trails of varying degrees of difficulty. However, this is the trail system that includes the trail I put off riding for over a season due to it's reputation as the most technical trail in the Greenbelt, The Lime Kiln Technical Trail. Indeed the first four or five times I rode it I endoed or crashed at least once. Finally, before the fire, I was able ride the whole trail, though not without dabbing or stopping and restarting a few times. The fire has exposed more rock along the trail and made the technical trail even more difficult.

The Lime Kiln Trail System can be accessed from the other side of P6 on Richmond Road or from P8 and P10 on Moodie Drive or from a gravel trail on Richmond Road south of the McDonald's. Please do not park in the Wild Bird Care Centre parking lot on Moodie Drive.

The Maps

Official NCC Map with Trail Numbers

Official NCC Map with Intersection Numbers

Official Rideau Trail Map

Topographical Map

Google Earth View Annotated Map
Left click twice to enlarge full size

The Trails

This trail system includes a section of the main Rideau Trail and a secondary section of the Rideau Trail, as well as the famous unofficial Lime Kiln Technical Trail, as mentioned above.

We will start our description of the trails at the closest point to home, in Bridlewood, at the entrance across from NCC Parking Lot P6 on Old Richmond Road and try to keep as logical a geographic progression as possible after that.

The Rideau Trail continues on the other side of P6, starting out rocky then turning parallel to Old Richmond Road where there is a chronic muddy section during spring and into summer. There is a walk-around. Please walk it as riding it tends to turn it as muddy as the trail. After that the trail is flowy until it turns left at 25F (on NCC signpost). The trail becomes rocky again as it gets closer to the Lime Kiln Bridge at 25E. Intersections 25D and 25E are essentially the same intersection on either side of the short bridge. The Rideau Trail then crosses over the bridge to 25D and continues south over some slightly rooty sections to 25C. It then follows a wide trail to 25B and goes right following the wide gravel fire road to Old Richmond Road where it continues along Old Richmond Road.

At 25F if you continue straight (south) you will follow a relatively flowy trail that goes through fields and forest, Be aware that there is lots of vegetation right alongside the trail as it is very narrow single-track and you will make contact with the vegetation.

This trail intersects with the Rideau Trail at 25C. There you can join the Rideau Trail in either direction or turn left and continue straight on another slightly rooty trail that goes through forests and fields and past an old overturned outhouse.

This trail ends at the “mulch trail”, one of the fire roads created to fight the fire, that is now covered with wood chips. The wood chips created a very soft trail that is not particularly enjoyable to ride on but it is becoming more packed and better to ride on each year.

The “mulch trail” is part of a secondary trail of the Rideau Trail that goes from NCC Parking Lot P10 on Moodie Drive then goes to the right after the Lime Kiln (at an unmarked intersection), continues to 25E where it goes north and over a bridge and past 28G, 28H, 28J and 28K to NCC Parking Lot P8 and continues across Moodie Drive.

The “mulch trail” starts at an unmarked intersection along the wide gravel fire road that runs between NCC Parking Lot P10 (Lime Kiln Parking Lot) and Old Richmond Road southwest of the Lime Kiln. It includes (obliterates) parts of the Lime Kiln Technical Trail on its way to 25E. At 25E it follows the path of (obliterates) a previous really enjoyable single-track trail until it ends at the bridge at the start of the Wild Bird Care Centre trails (Trail 28). These trails, the Chipmunk Trail and Beaver Trail, are wide easy dirt trails.

The official parking lot for the Lime Kiln is along Moodie Drive, NCC Parking Lot P10. P10 is the start of a wide dirt trail that goes over two bridges (one short, one long) and leads to the Lime Kiln. After the bridges the trail becomes a wide gravel trail (fire road) and continues to Old Richmond Road.

The most famous trail in the system, the Lime Kiln Technical Trail, starts at the Lime Kiln, 25A, and goes for approximately a kilometre to 25E at the Lime Kiln Bridge. It has been broken into three sections by the “mulch trail” (fire road) that obliterates short sections of it. This trail is very technical and also features some very interesting geology. Since the fire more rock has been exposed and, IMHO, the trail has become more technical and difficult.

This is another trail system that includes many intersecting trails and many unofficial trails that are not on the official NCC map. Although including the famous Lime Kiln Technical Trail, this trail system includes trail of various terrain and degrees of difficulty. Please remember these are shared trail so please respect other trail users.

GPS gpx Files

The gpx file for this trail system (and other trail systems) can be downloaded by clicking the link below:

GPX files - Google Docs

If you do download the gpx file please email me at and let me know so that I have an idea of how many people are downloading and using the files.


I hope to add photos in the future.

Posted 2015-09-04


Jack Pine & Trail 26 Trail System

Much of my introduction to mountain biking was at the MTB Kanata group rides at Jack Pine. During its time, which seems to have passed, MTB Kanata was the place for all things mountain biking in Kanata and Ottawa. MTB Kanata held regular group rides at the Kanata Lakes trails (which includes the trail area now known as the South March Highlands) on the weekends and regular weekly night rides at Jack Pine, usually including a run through the Lime Kiln Trail. These rides were very informal reflecting the great sense of community that was MTB Kanata in its heyday.

(Map Updated May 2016 to include NCC Intersection Waypoints)

The Jack Pine Trail System is accessible from parking lot P11 on West Hunt Club Road, as well as parking lot P9 on Moodie Drive, and from entrances across from parking lots P8 and P10 on Moodie Drive.

Most of the trails in the system are relatively easy non-technical trails, particularly the trails starting from P9. The start of the trails from P11 include some rocky sections. The trail system also includes a number of board walks that can be treacherous when wet.

Most of the trails are official trails, including a section of the Rideau Trail, and are on the NCC map. However there are two unofficial trails that go off from the main trails that tend to be narrower and more isolated than the main trails. One of these goes to the Log Farm and the other to a working quarry.

The Jack Pine Trail System is great for family rides or for introducing beginners to mountain biking. They are also a really great place to go for a fun flowing ride, However, be aware that these trails are very popular with walkers, especially during the fall when the leaves are changing colour. Remember the IMBA Rule of The Trail No 4. - ”bicyclists should yield to all other trail users”. These are shared trails so always respect other trail users.

GPS gpx Files

The gpx file for this trail system (and other trail systems) can be downloaded by clicking the link below:

GPX files - Google Docs

If you do download the gpx file please email me at and let me know so that I have an idea of how many people are downloading and using the files.

Slide Show of A Typical Jack Pine Trail 26 Ride

Viewing Slide Show Full Screen Recommended

Posted 2009-06-11
Updated 2017-10-22


Lytle Park Trail System

Lytle Park is a neighbourhood park in Barrhaven with well used sports fields. It is located on O'Keefe Court near the corner of Cedarview and Fallowfield Roads

It contains a small but interesting trail system including 4 kilometres of paved/gravel paths , that extend to a 7 km loop when you add in the connecting roads, and about 5.5 kilometres of single track dirt trails that go through a variety of terrain and even includes some interesting technical rocky and rooty sections. Parts of the trails go around an old pit that is used as a swimming hole.

GPS gpx Files

The gpx file for this trail system (and other trail systems) can be downloaded by clicking the link below:

GPX files - Google Docs

If you do download the gpx file please email me at and let me know so that I have an idea of how many people are downloading and using the files.

Posted 2011-09-13
Updated 2011-10-04


Monaghan Forest Trails

The Monaghan Forest Trails are almost in my back yard yet I was unaware of them for years. This is likely because they are not on any of the National Capital Commission (NCC) maps nor on the list of City of Ottawa conservation areas, although an after the fact search discovered mentions on several bird watching sites. I have a fellow mountain biker to thank for suggesting I check them out.

The Monaghan Forest Trails cover a variety of terrain from bush to grassy areas and includes forest roads, double track trails and even some technical single track.

The trails are located in a corner between Old Richmond Road, Fallowfield Road and Moodie Drive, north of Steeple Hill Crescent and south of a working quarry. You can access the trails from a parking lot on Fallowfield Road across from the Valleyview Little Animal Farm. There is also a parking lot on Alti Place, off of Moodie Drive.

Interestingly I did notice a few trees with what looked like NCC trail markers on them that the trees had grown over. They were also higher up the tree than normal suggesting they moved up with the trees growth. So if they were once NCC trails that was quite a few years ago.

Rideau Trail

The Rideau Trail runs through this area and interestingly the other maps I looked at do not agree on exactly where it goes. Even the official Rideau Trail map does not match where the trail goes according to the signage. The map on this website reflects the signage, the orange triangles used along the rest of the Rideau Trail.


At the end of Kyhmer Court where the Rideau Trail enters the Monaghan Forest Trails there is a trail going northeast in a loop with a spur off of it. That spur ends at a gravel road that goes around a working quarry. For some reason there is no fence at that point but the road clearly is on private property and should be avoided. I understand the road around the quarry goes dangerously close to the edge of the pit cliffs in places.

GPS gpx Files

The gpx file for this trail system (and other trail systems) can be downloaded by clicking the link below:

If you do download the gpx file please email me at and let me know so that I have an idea of how many people are downloading and using the files.


I hope to add photos or slide shows to each of the specific trail sections above in the future.

Posted 2016-09-03


Trail 27 Trail System

These trails used to be designated as Trails 27 & 28 but the NCC has renumbered some trail systems and combined Trails 27 and 28 as Trail 27, and used Trail 28 as the designation for the trails near the Wild Bird Care Centre.

These are the trails that I got an MTB Kanata group ride lost on, Luckily we ran into Duncan who knew the trails and managed to lead us back to the other group. I wonder where Duncan, The Spaceman, and The Dish are now.

 (Map Updated May 2016 to Include NCC Intersection Waypoints)

These trails are accessible from across from parking lot P11 on West Hunt Club Road and from parking lot P13 beside Bell High School on Bruin Lane, which is off Cassidy Road and Cedarview Road. They are also accessible from a trail beside D. Aubrey Moodie School that has no parking but is not far from the back end of the Old Quarry Trails adjacent to Bells Corners. I am usually riding these trails after doing Jack Pine and accessing them from across from P11.

This trail system also includes more unofficial trails than official ones and includes quite a few interconnecting loops. Most of these trails, particularly the official ones, are easy and non-technical.

However you will notice some narrow interior trails that are more difficult to navigate because they are narrow and twisty. As well, the trail that goes south along West Hunt Club Road includes some rocky and rooty sections, as well as a section that can get very muddy during the spring and after extensive rainfalls. Some of the unofficial trails closer to Bell High School are also somewhat more difficult.

It was not till I walked the trails taking photos that I realized just how much there is in there, particularly the twisty inside trails. There really are two trail systems, an outside easy system and an inside intermediate level system. There certainly are enough trails for anyone to tool around on for quite a few hours doing different loops in different directions. These are also shared trails but not nearly as heavily used by pedestrians as Jack Pine, except when you get close to Bell High School.

GPS gpx Files

The gpx file for this trail system (and other trail systems) can be downloaded by clicking the link below:

GPX files - Google Docs

If you do download the gpx file please email me at and let me know so that I have an idea of how many people are downloading and using the files.

Slideshow of a Typical Trail 27 Ride

Viewing Slide Show Full Screen Recommended

Posted 2009-06-22
Updated 2018-06-04


Bruce Pit Trails

This is one of the most extensive trails systems I have ever mapped. Even though there is very little on the official NCC map (below), other than the official Trail 29, there is an extensive system of unofficial undocumented trails.

There is a wide variety of types of trails in this system from paved and gravel paths to wider dirt trails and very narrow twisty singletrack with rooty sections and lots of fallen logs. The trail system includes some interesting sections following creek beds.

I started mapping these trails in 2010 extensively tracking and marking waypoints to follow all the intersections. When I started mapping the Dog Walking Area it got so complex that I left it for a year and went on to mapping other trail systems

When I returned to the project this year I decided to not include the Dog Walking Area, as my maps are mainly intended for mountain bikers and although bikes and dogs can co-exist we usually avoid the Dog Walking area while riding. This made finishing up the project easier.

I hope to add photos of these trails at a later date.

GPS gpx Files

The gpx file for this trail system (and other trail systems) can be downloaded by clicking the link below:

GPX files - Google Docs

If you do download the gpx file please email me at and let me know so that I have an idea of how many people are downloading and using the files.

Posted 2012-10-13


Hazeldean Woods Trails

The Hazeldean Woods Trails is a small but fun trail system in the Hazeldean Community in Kanata, roughly bounded by Hazeldean Road and Castlefrank Road in the southwest and Kakulu Road and Shearer Crescent in the northeast.

The trails are located within two City of Ottawa parks, the Hazeldean Woods Park and the Glen Cairn Reservoir (Forest) adjacent to an underground water reservoir. The trail system is within close riding distance from the Old Quarry Trail System across from the Hazeldean Mall. The total parkland is about 19 hectares (47 acres) with about 5 kilometres of distinct trails.

Although there is not a lot of distance to the trail network it seems longer than it is because of the different loops you can do riding around in it and because of the variety of terrain from easy double track to some really interesting rock gardens and a few challenging climbs (at least for me). This is a local trail system but on both a late Sunday morning and early after supper evening we had no conflicts with other trail users only meeting a few friendly dog walkers and local youngsters on their bikes.

GPS gpx Files

The gpx file for this trail system (and other trail systems) can be downloaded by clicking the link below:

GPX files - Google Docs

If you do download the gpx file please email me at and let me know so that I have an idea of how many people are downloading and using the files.

Posted 2012-06-12


Trails 20, 21 & Untrails Trail System

Dedicated to the memory of Andy (FaustCan) who introduced me to The Untrails

These trails are accessible from Parking Lot P4 on Haanel Drive, although I usually ride to them on the Trans-Canada Trail (TCT). I would describe these trails as being at the low end of intermediate level trails, except for portions of the The Untrails that are more technical. The terrain is varied including a climb from the TCT up to P4. Trail 21 includes board walks over wet areas and forested areas, as well as sections over grassy areas.

Trail 21 used to be divided into Trails 21 (west of Haanel Drive) and Trail 22 (east of Haanel Drive) but they were combined into one trail a few years ago when the NCC consolidated trail numbers and transferred some to trails without numbers. Trail 22 does not seem to have been used anywhere else.

Trail 20 is very wet and not rideable for most of the riding season. It normally does not dry out until late July or August and then does not recover well from rainfalls during the fall. I usually avoid it.

A loop of Trails 20 and 21 is one of our favourite winter cross-country skiing routes, starting at P4 and going down the south side of 21, taking the Trans-Canada Trail (TCT) to Trail 20 and along it, then looping back along the TCT to the north side of Trail 21, and then adding in a loop of the upper portion of Trail 21.

The Untrails

The Untrails are a group of unofficial trails west of Trail 20 and north of Trail 21. A wide section of trail connects Trail 20 to Trail 21 after which you can go straight across and connect to the Old Quarry Trail system across Robertson Road.

However the most interesting part of The Untrails are the single track trails west and north of the wide trail section. These trails were referred to as The Untrails because originally they were very rough and, to me at the time at least, not particularly fun to ride. The trails have now become worn in and were actually quite enjoyable to ride when I rode them to track and add to the trail system map. The portion closer to 28C at the southern end is more technical.

An interesting feature along the wide portion of The Untrails are the ruins of an old homestead (see map), While this does not seem to be preserved in any official way please be respectful of it and other such ruins that are located along the trails in the Greenbelt.

GPS and Google Earth Files

The gpx file for this trail system (and other trail systems) can be downloaded by clicking the link below:

If you do download the gpx file please email me at and let me know so that I have an idea of how many people are downloading and using the files.

Photos From Trail System

I hope to add photos or slide shows to each of the specific trail sections above in the future.

Posted 2016-08-27



About Me

My photo
Richard W. Woodley was born in Sudbury, Ontario in 1950. He earned an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Laurentian University where he was the News Editor of the student newspaper Lambda and active in student politics. He was active in the New Democratic Party and Waffle in Sudbury and Kanata, as well as Kanata municipal politics. He was a member of the Bridlewood Residents Hydro Line Committee (BRHLC) and creator of the now archived Bridlewood Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) Information Service. He worked on Parliament Hill for 33 years indexing the Debates of the House of Commons (Hansard) and it's committees. Richard has been an outdoorsperson and environmentalist for most of his life and a life long cyclist who recently took up mountain biking. He is active on and a member of the Ottawa Mountain Bike Association (OMBA).

Read My Blog

To read my thoughts on mountain biking, cycling, social and political philosophy and the current issues of the day read my blog, THE FIFTH COLUMN.