To Manotick and Back
Ride from Ottawa
to Manotick and Back
Heading out to Manotick is a popular destination with many local cyclists because it is a town with its own distinct identity that isn’t that far from Ottawa. Depending on your departure point, this ride will be close to 25 kilometres one way, or 50 kilometres for the return trip. This is a nice distance for an afternoon ride.The town itself is fairly interesting. Manotick’s signature landmark is the old Watson’s Mill, which is located on the banks of the Rideau River opposite Dickinson Square. It is one of the few remaining operating gristmills in Ontario and is open to the public. One block away from Watson’s Mill is Manotick’s main street where you can stop for a relaxing meal at a number of restaurants or pubs.
Although it will depend on your exact route from Ottawa, much of your ride to Manotick will probably follow the Rideau River, and you’ll pass by several parks that are perfect places for rest stops and to take in the scenery. A good part of this ride can be done on a combination of pathways, bicycle lanes, or paved shoulders. Unfortunately, in the final stretch to Manotick, you may find yourself riding along a busy road without the benefit of bike lane or paved shoulder (more on this later). The entire route is fairly flat, as there are no real hills to speak of.
Heading south on Prince of Wales Drive
One of the more convenient routes for getting to Manotick is to head over to the section of Prince of Wales Drive which runs through the Experimental Farm. If you are coming from the downtown area, follow the pathway along the Rideau Canal to Carleton University, and then turn left towards Experimental Farm. This will bring you to Prince of Wales Drive.
If you are coming from the west-end, take the Pinecrest Creek Pathway which becomes the Experimental Farm Pathway. You’ll find Prince of Wales Drive on the east side of the farm. Another option for people coming from the west is take Woodroffe Avenue all the way south. It ends at Prince of Wales, not very far from Manotick. There are either bicycle lanes, paved shoulders, or bicycle paths (including a nice stretch through a forested area) which run along most of Woodroffe Avenue starting in the vicinity of Algonquin College.
When using the route which runs through the Experimental Farm, you’ll want to turn onto Prince of Wales Drive and head south. There can be quite a bit of traffic on this road, but this shouldn’t be a concern since this part of Prince of Wales Drive has a nice paved shoulder that varies in width from 1 to 1.5 metres. Moreover, the ride along Prince of Wales is somewhat interesting because it is one of the older roads leading in and out of Ottawa, and there is some variation in the urban landscape along this route. You will stay on Prince of Wales Drive for most of the ride to Manotick.
A little over a kilometre and a half after Prince of Wales crosses Hunt Club Road, you will pass by an attractive park that is home to the Black Rapids lock station on the Rideau Waterway. The entrance to the park will be on your left, and it isn’t too obvious from the road. However, it is not that hard to spot if you are keeping an eye out for it. This park and lock station is worth a visit because it is a perfect place to stop for a rest and to watch the comings and goings along the Rideau River. Hills and trees around the park block out much of the view of the surrounding roads, buildings, and suburban housing developments, and you can get the feeling that you are far removed from the city. In another 7 kilometres, you also past by the Jock River Landing, and the surrounding park is another good spot to stop and check out the Rideau River (and a popular place for launching kayaks).
The paved shoulder along Prince of Wales Drive more or less comes to end at Fallowfield Road. Continuing on Prince of Wales Drive is the is the most direct route for getting to Manotick, but it means you’ll have to ride the last 6 or 7 kilometres on a relatively busy road where the paved shoulder is non-existent, very narrow, or intermittent (maybe only 30% to 40% of the remaining distance has a good paved shoulder). This situation is the one major shortcoming with what would otherwise be a very good route for a nice relaxing ride to Manotick.
If you are uncomfortable riding on a road with lots of traffic under these conditions, there are options which will reduce the amount of time you will be cycling on this part of Prince of Wales Drive. However, they will take you out of your way, and none offer a prefect solution for avoiding traffic.
One option is to simply get a good up-to-date city map and use it to figure out a route that will zig zag through the quiet streets of the sub-divisions on the west side of Prince of Wales Drive. This will probably involve lots of twists and turns. However, if you plan your route properly, you should be able to get all the way to Jockvale Road, and thereby avoid the need to ride any portion of the final 6 to 7 kilometres of Prince of Wales Drive. When doing this, pay close attention to the route you select because some of these subdivisions are self-contained enclaves with road networks that lead nowhere.
A more straight forward option to get off Prince of Wales Drive is to turn right onto Fallowfield Road. Although Fallowfield is another busy road, it does have a very wide (2 metres!) paved shoulder. The two kilometre ride along Fallowfield Road will be a little boring as it will take runs through a large expanse of monotonous farm fields. When you get to Woodroffe Avenue, turn left. There is also a lot of traffic on Woodroffe, but it too has a paved shoulder (1 metre wide).
You then essentially follow Woodroffe all the way south until it dumps you back onto Prince of Wales Drive. The problem with this route is that it appears the paved shoulder has been torn up on the last kilometre of Woodroffe because of a recent flurry of housing construction in the area. It’s not clear if the paved shoulder will be repaired after construction is completed.
When you get off Woodroffe, you’ll only have to cycle one kilometre on Prince of Wales Drive, and there is a reasonably good paved shoulder on this segment of the road.
Regardless of how you get there, when riding the last stretch of your route on Prince of Wales Drive, keep an eye out for Rideau Valley Road. You’ll turn left on this road. Part of it was recently rebuilt, and now has excellent paved shoulder. Stay on Rideau Valley Road for another three kilometres and you’ll automatically end up on Manotick’s Main Street, where you’ll find a good selection of restaurants, stores, pubs, etc. Watson’s Mill is also located in this area, one block east of Main Street.
There’s another option for getting to Manotick’s downtown area. Instead of staying on Rideau Valley Road (which can be busy), you can choose to ride part of the final three kilometres on narrow island is situated in the middle of the Rideau River. It’s call Long Island, and it’s home to Manotick’s residential district.
To get on the island, turn left onto Barnsdale Road and you’ll soon cross a small bridge. Once on the island you want to turn right and head in a southerly direction. Since this is a residential area on a long narrow island, it really makes little difference what street you take – they all head in the same direction. After about two kilometres, you will arrive at Bridge Street. Here you will turn right and cross a bridge in a few hundred kilometres. Immediately after crossing the bridge, turn left onto Mill Street you will find yourself in front of Watson’s Mill. Mill Street curves to the right and leads to Manotick’s Main Street.
Riding on the east side of the Rideau River
Needless to say, there are many alternative routes for getting to Manotick from Ottawa. This article features a route that follows Prince of Wales Drive which runs on the west side of the Rideau River. With the exception of the last 6 to 7 kilometres, this is a good route because of the paved shoulder on Prince of Wales Drive. You can, of course, ride on the east side of the river.
When leaving Ottawa’s urban area, Hunt Club Road provides a good crossing point over the Rideau River (there’s a bicycle lane on the bridge). From here you can head to Manotick on the east side of the river by following Riverside Road, and later, River Road. Initially there is a good paved shoulder along Riverside Road as it passes behind the Ottawa Airport, but this soon comes to an end where the road splits into Limebank and River Road. You’ll want to stay right to get on River Road. Unfortunately, there is not much of a paved shoulder for the next 9 to 10 kilometres as you ride on River Road. For the most part, it is non-existent, although there are few areas with a paved shoulder, some of which are in terrible shape.
When cycling along this route, you might want to take a small detour to check out a locking station and the arch stone dam on the Rideau River, as well as the tiny and rather unique island community that is located on Nicolls Island. You can find all of this at the end of Nicolls Island Road.
River Road eventually intersects with Bridge Street. Here you will turn right and cross Long Island by passing over two short bridges. Immediately after crossing the second bridge turn left on Mill Street, and you will be in Manotick’s downtown area.
Some handy links for this ride:
(Click on the images for larger photos)