a peek inside the fishbowl

04 Jan, 2013

Kids and skiing in Ottawa

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

Ski girl!

Do you ski with your family?

I would really like to do more downhill skiing. Some of my happiest memories are skiing with Mark at Tremblant. I LOVE downhill skiing, even though I’m not a very good skier – the lift going up, the swoosh going down, the wind in my face (not too cold of course) the clunk of the ski boots in the chalet après-ski… Sigh. Sadly we lack equipment and funds at the moment so this is not going to be happening any time soon.

For the time being we’ve elected to continue to cross-country ski as a family. Once you have all the equipment it’s practically free. Mark and I both have skis, and we got a great deal on Emma’s at Trailhead last year. They sell of their rentals at end of the season (and last year wasn’t much of a ski season) so Emma got rentals that looked almost new.

We are renting Sarah’s skis this year because of the Embargo and the fact that she’s still growing. It’s a pretty good deal. We rent them for the season (they are brand new stylin’ skis, poles, boots, bindings) and bring them back in the Spring at which point we have the option of buying them outright if we so desire.

We have been out a few times already and I’m really enjoying it. I’m telling you, if you have a spare hour or two, it’s one of the best things you can do with your family. It’s so easy to just pick up and go.

Everyone thoroughly enjoys themselves. The girls have never had a lesson and they seem to be picking it up really well. I think it’s helping them develop some much-needed skills for when we do decide to hit the big slopes: balance, posture, steering, etc.

Also, XC-skiing is a little calmer, which I appreciate. (No watching in terror as your kids speed down a hill.)

We elected to go to Jack Pine Trail the other day (sadly, sans seeds for the birds this time). It was, gorgeous.

The forest always reminds me of a cathedral. There’s light pouring through branches laden with snow. Sun and shadow create colour even in a fairly black and white world: blue snow, golden snow, silver ice, fifty shades of whiteness. The sound of my skis swishing across the trail, the steady rhythm of my breath… it is a meditation, a prayer, a slice of something big.

Cross-county skiing

Cross-county skiing

Forest view

Cross-county skiing

Forest view

Looking for a great trail to walk, snowshoe, or ski? This was a good one. Park at P9 on Moodie Drive and follow the signs. It’s free! The trail we tried recently at Shirleys Bay (we parked at P2) was good too, less scenic perhaps but the trail was better groomed and there were fewer walkers mussing it up. :)

There’s great skiing in the Gatineaus too, but it’s a little farther out for us and there’s a fee to ski (small as it is I’m looking to keep it cheap!). We will get there someday too! Right now I’m looking for local trails in the 5km range that have a couple of fun little hills. Know of any?

16 Responses to "Kids and skiing in Ottawa"

1 | suze

January 4th, 2013 at 1:34 pm


did you know that OPL has ski passes for Mooney’s Bay and Gatineau?

also, where are you renting Sarah’s skis from? My kids would like to try skiing, but downhill is such a commitment (even just getting away for one day is a lot!) — time and money! I have my mom’s old x-country skis, but none for the kiddies.

2 | Georgina

January 4th, 2013 at 1:42 pm


Yes, I would like to know as well where you rent skis. My guys are a little too young right now for skiing, but I can tether their sled to my waist instead. Makes for a good workout!

3 | Tanya

January 4th, 2013 at 1:57 pm


I’m jealous, it looks fun skiing as a family. My husband and I used to ski on many of the Ottawa area trails before we had kids. Now I can’t wait until my girls are old enough to ski, a couple of years yet. Renting skis while they are young sounds like an excellent idea. Enjoy it!

4 | Brenda A

January 4th, 2013 at 2:05 pm


Love to see this! We joined as a family this year and the girls and I are taking lessons at Kanata Nordic Ski Club. We are very excited to start on Saturday!

5 | Lana

January 4th, 2013 at 2:11 pm


Although not quite as scenic or groomed, the Ottawa River pathway usually is good for x-country skiing – and it’s close. Windy. But close.

6 | Andrea

January 4th, 2013 at 2:17 pm


Trailhead is where we rent for the season. Sorry, I guess I should have mentioned that. :)

7 | binki

January 4th, 2013 at 5:24 pm


Cross-country skiing is much much better than downhill. And so much kinder to Mommy Earth.

Mer Bleu is good (the various parking/access points). Night XC skiing is particularly awesome (with a headlight).

8 | Allison

January 4th, 2013 at 9:08 pm


What a great way to spend an afternoon (or morning) with your family! I didn’t know you could rent equipment for a whole season – great idea. Definitely going to check this out. I’d like to give skis a try w/ our boys this year but am not able to commit to the full gear purchase. Thanks for the great tip!

9 | Cath

January 5th, 2013 at 9:24 am


We joined nakkertok this year and can hardly wait for the kids’ ski lessons to start today!

10 | Jane

January 5th, 2013 at 4:45 pm


Just returned from a lovely ski along the Ottawa River Parkway. We parked at Deschenes Rapids and skiied to Britannia and back. Noticed there is parking at Britania as well & the skiing was much nicer at that end; it would probably be a nice ski out to Andrew Haydn from there too.

We pick up new & used sports equipment for our growing son at Tim’s Used Sports on Wellington. They give credit for trade-ins and usually have a good selection, especially at the beginning of the season. I replaced my old skis & boots there this year too.

11 | Rebecca

January 6th, 2013 at 7:45 am


I love the idea of renting skis! My son is only just 5 and we got him second hand skis last year, but I’m reluctant to but him new gear every year while he’s still growing so fast! I too love the Jack Pine Trail; it’s one of the most beautiful spots in the Greenbelt.
Check out the NCC Greenbelt website (http://www.canadascapital.gc.ca/places-to-visit/greenbelt/things-to-do/cross-country-skiing-greenbelt). They list the groomed trails. The reason you had so many walkers at Jack Pine is that it’s a winter hiking trail…there are other NCC Greenbelt trails that are groomed for skiing and walkers are pretty respectful of the ski tracks. The website has a link to the all-season trail map too, which shows the trail loops as well as parking lots, etc.
Happy skiing!

12 | Jennifer

January 6th, 2013 at 8:23 am


Do you guys have skate skis or classic? Any advantage of one over the other?

13 | andrea

January 6th, 2013 at 12:42 pm


Renting is awesome with little kids.

Jennifer: We all have classic skis. The adults have ones we need to wax, the kids have no wax (they have little grooves on the underside). I think most of the trails in our area are groomed in a “classic” style (in other words, narrow). I think skate skiing is awesome but you’d need a different kind of trail.

14 | lacoop

January 7th, 2013 at 6:53 am


We downhill and x-country ski…we parents prefer the x-country because it is so beautiful and peaceful…kids go for the adrenalin of downhill. Did you know in Japan they do this thing called “forest bathing” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_bathing)….seems we have been doing the same thing all these years. btw…the fee for using the Gatineau x-country trails is not mandatory, so if you are feeling stretched you can still use the trails. The snow this winter is great for skiing!

15 | Mary V.

January 9th, 2013 at 12:43 pm


This brings bad fond memories of x-country skiing in Grade 6… which was the last time I did it! Wonder how hard it is for adult to pick up skiing again on their own, sans lessons…

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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