I received a request to identify the easier Kanata Lakes (KL) and South March Highlands (SMH) trails from a rider who would like to take his wife riding in the area. I am providing the information here in case others may be interested. Of course,“easier” is a matter of personal interpretation.
The trails in this area are known to be some of the most technical in the Ottawa area but there are indeed some relatively easier trails in the system. The trails I am identifying are the ones that the easiest OMBA Group (Group D) would ride during the Thursday evening group rides.
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Kanata Lakes Trails
I am going to start with the trails closest to the parking lot on Goulbourn Forced Road (GFR). This is the trail system that will virtually disappear as it is overtaken by urban development. But until the development reaches these trails we will will still have a few years to enjoy them.
The easiest of these trails is a gravel loop that goes from the GFR parking lot, starting at the south end of the parking lot, to the Beaver Pond parking lot and continues to Goulbourn Forced Road.
Also starting at the back of the GFR parking lot are a series of single track dirt and rock trails, including the Lost and Found Trails. These can vary from easy to intermediate level and can be quite enjoyable for beginners to ride. During the wet season sections of these trails can get quite wet, in particular the trail that goes from the gravel portion of the Trillium Trail to Goulbourn Forced Road.
One of the trails that both my wife and I enjoy is the dirt single track section of the Trillium Woods Trail starting on the west side of GFR. Unfortunately it is going to become a compacted gravel/stone dust pathway, unless the draft SMH management plan is changed. It will lead you into the easier parts of the SMH trails, circled in red on the map.
On the other side of the GFR parking lot are the KL trails, including the Marathon Trail and other trails that are very popular for cross-country skiing. Unfortunately almost all of these trails southeast of the Conservation Land Boundary will be lost to development except for a short corridor that will be converted to a compacted gravel/stone dust pathway. For the most part these are beginner-friendly trails.
At the western end of these trails is the hydro cut trail that connects the KL system to the SMH system. After significant rainfalls these section of trail can become very muddy. It will eventually become a hard packed gravel/stone dust pathway.
South March Highlands Trails
You can access these trails from the the corner of Second Line and Klondike Road (K2). The SMH trails follow the IMBA stacked loop system with the trails getting more difficult as you get further into the system.
The trails circled in red on the map are the beginner friendly trails but they do have sections that may require beginners to walk their bikes for short distances. The easiest trails are Fast Out, Rockhopper Junior, Rockhopper Extension and M-Line. Bear Claw is more of an intermediate trail at the moment simply because it is fairly rough, but it is a lot of fun to ride. The draft SMH management plan proposes to convert Bear Claw into a compacted gravel-stone dust pathway. I would also include Rockhopper itself as a beginner friendly trail, since a lot of work has been done in recent years to improve the flow of the trail.
The FB trails, known as Inner and Outer Thigh, circled in dotted red lines on the map could also be described as beginner friendly with a few difficult sections except for the large number of narrow bridges that may intimidate some beginners, but they can be walked over.
click on map to enlarge