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05 Feb, 2008

Best toboggan hills in Ottawa

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Ottawa for kids|Easy ways to make kids happy|Ottawa

Edited to add (December 31, 2012): I have received an email from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and am posting it here for reference (despite the fact that this is an archived post):

“Your website (below) referencing the “Best Tobogganing Hills in Ottawa” specifically the one as per below indicating that the Central Experimental Farm/Arboretum is one of them is not correct. The area in question is the property of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and has been posted “No Sliding” for approximately 10 years as a result of a serious injury. The number of rare trees and their proximity within this area makes the area dangerous, as such it is posted to protect both the public and trees/plantations. In promoting this area as an approved sliding hill within your article, you may be exposing yourself to potential liabilities for possible public injuries. I would suggest you post a retraction article indicating that this is not an approved sliding area.”

So there it is. As always, I urge you to exercise good common sense and be safe… no matter where you are sledding. And please don’t sue me.


Day four: sledding mishapI’ve always said: if you want to survive an Ottawa winter you have to get out and enjoy it. Looking for something to do? Go tobogganing. It’s cheap, easy, and your kids will think you are the bestest parents in the whole (Wintery) world.

Our kids are still small enough that they enjoy sledding down mounds of snow-covered-grass-covered dirt found at our local park. But that’s no fun for the parents. Here are our two favourite “big kid” hills for fun family sledding.

1)The Arboretum/Experimental Farm
There’s a hill which overlooks the Rideau Canal near Carleton University. I used to go there when I was in my first year at Carleton. We called it “Traybogganing” because we’d, ahem, borrow plastic serving trays from the cafeteria and use them as sleds. It’s a great hill (pictured at the beginning of this video Mark put together last year) but it requires a bit of extra caution. Personally, I wouldn’t send any kid who’s under five down that hill alone. (In fact, before we go down the hill there we coach the girls on how to roll off a moving sled). There are some rather major obstacles that need to be avoided if you don’t want to risk concussion or death: people, large trees, and a creek that doesn’t always freeze. But hey, that’s what makes sledding so fun, right?

2) Walter Baker Park in Kanata.
That’s where this video was shot (which I love… I mean, what glee!), as well as the photo above. The four of us were there this past Sunday. It’s a wonderfully long hill (and equally long climb), but the day we went the conditions were too bumpy (for me) to be truly enjoyable. The kids loved it, but I felt my neck and every single one of my vertebrae compressing with each bump we sailed over. And I lost my lens cap to boot. Next time we visit we hope for smoother conditions. And maybe we’ll patch up our inflatable two-seater sled before we go too.

Ottawa Start has a comprehensive list of the all the best hills around Ottawa. There are quite a few! Check it out.

4 Responses to "Best toboggan hills in Ottawa"

1 | Jen_nifer

February 5th, 2008 at 5:41 pm


We recently moved near the Jeanne D’Arc “Hidden Hill” listed on Ottawa Start’s list. I can attest that it’s wonderful for younger kids. I can send my 2 year old down it solo (or together).

2 | Michelle

December 7th, 2011 at 9:26 pm


You can also check out Tobogganhills.com for a map of local hills. Hills are rated for steepness, obstructions, popularity, and parking. You can also add the above hills for others to locate and enjoy. Many sleds will thank you! :)

3 | Iain Robson

December 29th, 2012 at 8:58 am


Sweet. This is exactly what I was looking for.

Thanks Andrea

4 | Kaitlin

December 31st, 2012 at 1:33 pm


What an odd email from Agri-Food. Pretty sure that in the seven years that I lived in Ottawa, I never saw signage at the Arbouretum that suggested sledding wasn’t recommended. What’s more is, the CEF has installed bales at the end of the hill, near trees. Is this to protect the trees or for safety reasons for sledders? I always thought it was the latter.

I’m all for conservation of trees, and for using your noggin, but a) they were awful paternalistic about it and b) they aren’t doing as much as they could to discourage it. Sigh.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our two daughters Emma (16) and Sarah (14). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times, and a regular contributor to MediaSmarts.ca. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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