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