The Rideau Canal is, by nature, a marvel through and through. But it’s also what is popping up all around it that makes for an unforgettable day trip or full-on vacation. Discover incredible beauty at every turn, coupled with unique community experiences all rooted in history along the Rideau Canal!
Walk, bike or drive, there’s lots to see all around you
Lockstations & Blockhouse Visitor Centres
With 24 lock stations and 47 locks spanning Kingston to Ottawa, boats of all sizes are able to lock through. Watch the lockmasters and crew hand crank boats through on this historic waterway.
Better yet, rent a boat and experience locking through first hand. Canal staff along the Rideau are friendly and willing to answer questions, and in some locations – such as at Kingston Mills, Chaffey’s Lock, Jones Falls and Merrickville, there are museums and visitor centres at the stations. Boat rentals are available at some spots along the canal; indulge in a rental to cross this experience off your bucket list.
Cycling / Motorcycling
If your passion is peddling, go the distance and peddle the Rideau Canal with its abundance of opportunities. Cyclists can travel through quaint towns, peddle past forests, wetlands, and parklands, or on paved recreational pathways. Warning; with so many great places to see, you’ll be inspired to sit back, relax and take in the moment.
Cyclists have a lot more flexibility when it comes to exploring the region. For a self-guided option, you can find many detailed routes here. The rides whenever possible take you on quieter backroads. If you choose to do the full Ottawa to Kingston ride, you’ll be able to experience the beauty of the Rideau- provided you’re prepared to take several days and do a few side trips.
Highlights in the region, include the delightful town of Merrickville, Chaffey’s Lock and the Opinicon Lake boat tour, Delta and the Old Stone Mill, the Forfar Cheese Factory for squeaky cheese curds, and Kilmarnock Lock with its’ wooden swing bridge.
Get out and explore the Rideau au naturel by hitting trails along the way. With lush greenery, rock outcroppings, and pristine water, the Rideau Canal provides natural eye candy at every turn. Photo-ready scenes unravel before your eyes; this is nature at its best – even in the winter! With many all-season parks and conservation areas, the Rideau Canal has ample opportunities to get outside and enjoy nature.
HERE ARE A FEW OF OUR POPULAR TRAILS ALONG THE CANAL
The Rideau Trail is a 387 km network of hiking trails between the City of Kingston and the City of Ottawa located in the general area of the Rideau Canal and its tributary waters. Come hike with us!
Murphy’s Point on the Rideau Trail : Nestled between Westport and Lombardy you will find a majestic destination for hiking. With over 20 kms of trails with captivating scenery. Located on Big Rideau Lake, part of the Rideau Canal World Heritage Site.
The Tip to Tip Trail is a 4.5k hike in Burritts Rapids; a small town south of Ottawa, along the Rideau River. The creation of the Rideau Canal there resulted in a small island. The ‘Tip to Tip’ Trail is aptly named because it begins at one tip of the island and ends at the other.
The North Grenville Trail System links together 150 km of trails, roads, walkways, and waterways throughout the municipality. The Sugar Bush Island Trail near Davis Lock also offers incredible views from high atop a rock lookout. It’s an easy hike among Butternut, Sugar Maple, White Pine, and Butternut trees. Be delighted by the abundance of birdlife here and by finding stairs in the middle of the woods to help easily traverse some hills along the trail!
Foley Mountain in Westport looks out over Upper Rideau Lake from a granite ridge at Spy Rock. A three-minute walk from the parking lot gets visitors to the rock lookout to see the lake and village laid out below.
Sugarbush Island trail in the James H. Fullard Nature Reserve near Davis Lock is a great family walk – the kids will love discovering sets of stairs built right into the trail for easy navigation of some hills.
Rock Dunder, owned by the Rideau Waterways Land Trust, near Morton offers a 3.8 km summit loop that is so worth the hike. This moderate to difficult trail leads you to a soaring lookout over the Rideau Waterway. If you follow the well-marked trails all the way to the top, astounding beauty and a great photo opportunity is your reward. Standing atop the rock at the summit gives a breathtaking view of the canal with water and treetops below stretching as far as the eye can see.
Another unforgettable vantage point is near Chaffey’s Lock on a former train bridge, which is now a section of the Cataraqui Trail. The bridge dates back to the early 1900s and has recently been renovated for use with the trail. A short five-minute walk through the woods from the lock awards visitors with an unforgettable view.
The Cataraqui Trail is a year-round, shared-use recreation trail. In spring, summer, and fall it welcomes everyone from hikers to cyclists. In winter it is open to snowmobilers bearing a current Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs trail permit.
Day hike your way through the region. Find more trail adventures here and here.
Along with the trails mentioned above, the Rideau Canal offers fantastic opportunities for waterfowl viewing in a variety of habitat including winding canal and river intermixed with shallow lakes and marshy shorelines. Morning paddlers are often greeted by loons and blue herons as the mist rises off of the lakes and evening paddlers can watch the sun go down over the water in a glorious blaze of colour. Particularly enticing spots for birding is a Class 1 Wetland near Smiths Falls Detached lockstation, known as the Swale, as well as the Tay River, the Tay Marsh (Class 1 Wetland) and Upper Beveridges Locks lookout tower. A variety of easy access spots are available for paddlers, and there is even a Federal Bird Sanctuary and Class 1 and 2 Wetlands located upstream from Merrickville. Guaranteed action from feathered friends!
1000 Islands and Rideau Canal Garden Trail
A mix of private and public gardens and garden centre displays connect to make up the 1000 Islands and Rideau Canal Garden Trail throughout Leeds Grenville.
The trail features many unique gardens that feature perennials, shrubs, trees, and food production. The gardens showcase a range of plant matter from native plants to the uncommon. Specialty beds include shade, sun, bog, woodland, scree and pollinator gardens. Added experiences include native butterflies, honeybees and birds, monarch butterfly way stations, fountains, ponds, contemporary art exhibits, and statuary. Learn more about the trail.
Hours of Operation
Parks Canada’s navigation season runs annually from mid-May to mid-October. During seasonal hours of operation, friendly lock staff will be on-hand to provide lockage and mooring services to boaters, and check-in any overnight visitors. Washroom facilities and limited parking will also be available to the public during these hours. See Parks Canada website for current hours and services.
There is no entrance fee when visiting a lockstation on the Rideau Canal. This includes access to washroom facilities and surrounding parklands for picnics and sightseeing.
Parks Canada does collect fees from boaters and paddlers seeking lockage and mooring services, as well for various overnight camping and accommodations options.
Revenues are used to support visitor services and facilities. This means that every time you travel the Rideau Canal, you are investing in its future – and in a legacy for future generations.
Can I swim in the Rideau Canal?
Yes, visitors can enjoy swimming in the Rideau Canal. There are several public beaches along the canal for you to enjoy. Swimming is not allowed in the immediate vicinity of any lock as well in the Ottawa section of the canal between Hogs Back and the Ottawa Locks.
* Rideau Ferry Yacht Club Conservation Area on Lower Rideau Lake claims to have the best beach on the Rideau. It features a sandy beach, picnic area, and boat launch, and other amenities like washrooms, a change house, a picnic shelter.
* Maintained by the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority this public beach, boat launch, and picnic area is a popular summer hang-out.
* Kendrick’s Park near Lyndhurst on Lower Beverley Lake also boasts a superb spot for a family day in the sun near the Rideau system for a family day in the sun with lots of amenities, as does Westport’s Lions Club Beach on Sand Lake.
Where can I picnic?
Every lockstation along the Rideau Canal offers beautiful scenery and places for you and your travelling companions a place to enjoy a picnic lunch. Barbeque grills and picnic tables can be found at most of the location. Bring your own lawn chair or picnic blanket and watch boats lock through the system. Picnic lunch boxes can be purchased from Furnace Falls Farm as well as other locations along the waterway. Grab some grub from one of your favourite take-out restaurants and make your way to the banks of Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Where do I park?
Parking is available at all lockstations along the canal except Ottawa Locks. Hourly parking is available at Hartwells, Black Rapids, Long Island and Kingston Mills lockstation parking lots. Daily parking fees (typically less than $5) are charged at Hogs Back, Black Rapids, Long Island, Edmunds, Newboro, and Kingston Mills.
Browse the regions calendar of events below
Ottawa Events Calendar
Find out what’s happening in Ottawa, Canada’s capital.
Kingston Events Calendar
Kingston, a hub where makers, culinary enthusiasts and musicians bring a vibrant, modern culture to this historic Canadian city.
Perth Events Calendar
Night markets, music and more. Find out what’s happening in Perth, Ontario.
Smiths Falls Events Calendar
Find out what’s happening in Smiths Falls, Ontario.
Westport Events Calendar
Discover events and live music in the Village of Westport.
Kemptville Events Calendar
Explore events for Kemptville and the surrounding areas in North Grenville.
Manotick Events Calendar
Discover unique businesses, festivals, and special village events in Manotick.
Merrickville Events Calendar
Arts, shopping and street events are aplenty in ‘the Jewel of the Rideau’. Find things to do in Merrickville, Ontario.
Rideau Lakes Event Calendar
Find events happening in the many villages of Rideau Lakes.
Leeds and the Thousand Islands Events Calendar
Find out what’s happening in Seeley’s Bay & Lyndhurst.