The following questions and answers are the most common queries we receive from hikers interested in following the Rideau Trail. If you do not see an answer that helps you, please email us and we will do our best to respond.
How long is the Rideau Trail and how long does it take to hike end to end?
The distance of the main Rideau Trail (there are also over 130 km of secondary loops & connector trails) is roughly 325km (217 miles) from Kingston to Ottawa. Although the net elevation gain is about 600m (2000 feet), there are many portions of the trail that have some steep elevation changes (view trail sector elevations). Most hikers complete the distance in sections but it is possible to hike the entire distance in about 9-16 days. Our Website is filled with resources that will help you plan your hike.
What are the activities in the RTA?
For a full list of the activities, please consult the RTA’s printed newsletter, monthly e-letter or the local clubs section of our website. Most activities organized by the Rideau Trail Association are weekend outings appropriate for the season such as day hikes, bike rides or afternoon paddles. In the winter, outings can include cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Some years, a series of hikes may be scheduled with the purpose of completing an end-to-end hike of the entire Rideau Trail from Kingston to Ottawa. Members who succeed in completing this distance are awarded a badge and certificate. Sometimes an End-to-End may occur during the winter months. Other outings include trail maintenance outings where the emphasis is on work and occasionally a barbeque, skating party or potluck supper. At all times, the emphasis is having a socially enjoyable time.
When are hikes held?
There are hikes held throughout the week, normally with a greater emphasis on weekends. Refer to current outing pages for each club and contact local club(s) for more information.
Do I have to be a member of the RTA to hike on the trail?
No. Non-members may hike on the Rideau Trail. It is strongly suggested that hikers do not travel alone and that before getting on to the Rideau Trail, a copy of the appropriate trail map(s) link is/are obtained. The maps page also has gps files that can be loaded into navigation apps for your phone or gps device. The trail is marked with orange triangular markers that point the way between Kingston to Ottawa. Solid orange triangles indicate that you are hiking towards Ottawa, while markers with a yellow tip indicate that you are moving towards Kingston. Remember to dress appropriately for the weather and bring sufficient food and water for the day. If you enjoyed your hike on the Rideau Trail, you are encouraged to become a member.
What is the age range of participants at RTA outings?
Ages vary greatly. Before joining an RTA outing, you are encouraged to ensure that you meet the personal fitness requirements and find an outing with an appropriate difficulty level. The RTA occasionally hosts family-friendly hikes that are appropriate for children with limited hiking experience.
How can I join the RTA?
You can easily join the Rideau Trail Association by registering online. Memberships may also be taken out at the annual Association or Club meetings. Member benefits include a subscription to our quarterly newsletter, exclusive members-only emails, discounts at select outdoor equipment stores, voting rights at our AGM and more. Prospective members may choose to go along on a few of our outings organized by our local clubs or experience the Rideau Trail on their own before joining, to see what the RTA is all about.
How can I tell if my membership is still valid?
Members who receive copies of the quarterly Rideau Trail Newsletter by mail can check the mailing label on the back page which includes the expiry date for their last-paid membership. Members may buy a yearly membership, which covers from April 1 to March 31 of the following year.
Where can I get a map of the Rideau Trail?
PDF and printed versions are available on our website, as are kmz/kml/gpx files for your phones or gps devices. From time to time, re-routing of the trail becomes necessary and our Trail Alerts page should be regularly consulted.
Where can I camp on the Rideau Trail?
For information on camping and roofed accommodations on the Rideau Trail, please visit our Overnight Accommodations page which includes info on campsites, B&Bs & more. We encourage your input to enhance the available information.
May I travel the Rideau Trail on my bicycle?
Yes and no. For a variety of reasons ranging from carefully negotiated agreements with public and private landowners, public safety and trail conservation, most of the trail is only suited for travel by foot. However, portions of it do allow for bicycles. For example, the sections along the Trans-Canada Trail, Cataraqui Trail, the K&P Trail and the Ottawa River Pathway are suitable areas. Likewise, wherever public roadways form part of the trail, cycling is permitted, but in general only pedestrians may use the Rideau Trail. Want more info? Check out our blog post all about cycling from Kingston to Ottawa!
Where can I take my ATV or dirtbike on the Rideau Trail?
The Rideau Trail is only intended for traveling by foot. This is because where our trail crosses private land, we are granted access for foot traffic only. Abuse of this agreement can result in the landowner withdrawing their permission to use their property for hiking. There are a few all-purpose trails in eastern Ontario, where ATVs, snowmobiles & dirtbikes may be used. Parts of the Trans Canada Trail are all-purpose, but the Rideau Trail network is primarily for hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing (again, cross country skiing is limited by the terrain).
When is the hunting season along the Rideau Trail?
The hunting season in Ontario depends on several factors including: the area, the type of game, and even the type of hunting equipment used. Generally, the hunting season along the Rideau Trail includes a good part of the fall and a good part of the winter. Please see the Ministry of Natural Resources website or call 1-800-667-1940 for details. It’s a good idea to wear hunter orange clothing if you are hiking where and when hunting may be permitted. Any of the RTA-organized hikes held at this time of year will take hunting access in mind when choosing a venue. All private property areas of the Rideau Trail are closed for the two week period of deer hunting season with rifles – generally the first two weeks of November. Dates can be confirmed on the Trail Alerts page, along with information on what parts of the trail are still usable during that period.
How can I plan an end-to-end hike of the Rideau Trail?
An individual End-to-End hike requires a lot of planning. It is first essential to obtain a copy of the Rideau Trail maps, or gps files for navigation assistance, in order to get an idea of the difficulty of the terrain in each area of the trail and what would be a reasonable day’s progress along the route. The most challenging (and visually interesting) parts of the Rideau Trail are in the southern half from Kingston to Perth. Learn more about completing a through hike
There are limited opportunities to camp along the trail when attempting an End-to-End through hike and some hikers choose to stay in Bed-and-Breakfasts near to the trail. For a list of campsites and B&Bs, check out our Overnight Accommodations page.
It’s necessary to be prepared for the expected seasonal conditions on the trail. For example, packing rain gear and insect repellent for summer hiking and long pants for travel in the bush. Some hikers prefer to hike only in cooler weather to avoid the heat and flies of the summer or the wet conditions of the early spring. Organizing sufficient food and water and possibly camping equipment is a given.
A large problem for the End-to-Ender hiking the Rideau Trail in sections is scheduling transportation to a trailhead and back to the trailhead after that section has been hiked. This usually means hiking with a friend who can leave their car at the end-location to provide a ride back to the trailhead at the end of the day.
Many hikers take several months or years to accomplish the End-to-End, hiking sections of the trail as they have time. Another possibility is to attend a variety of the RTA-organized hikes that can be found on the RTA Activities Calendar. End-to-End hikes are also conducted in the winter and there is a separate badge for completing the Winter End-to-End (only hikes conducted in January and February can count). When there is going to be a full selection of End-to-End hikes these will be announced in the RTA quarterly Newsletter. This approach solves the transportation problem since from any of the three Club hike meeting places, a system of car shuttling is organized (for a fee) for hikers without cars and those not wishing to drive. Put together over a period of time, such hikes could cover much of the Rideau Trail and the remaining parts of the trail could be covered when convenient. Some years, a series of hikes specifically designed to cover the entire trail is organized for a set of weekends.
End-to-Enders who are Members of the RTA may apply for official recognition of their accomplishment once completed. Certificates are awarded each year at the RTA Annual General meeting in June.
Can I bring my dog or other pet to an RTA-organized outing?
No. Dogs or other pets, with the exception of certified guide dogs accompanying a visually impaired participant, are not allowed at RTA events due to problems with park regulations, wildlife, landowners, and also other participants during the event or during transportation to and from the event.
Can I bring my dog or other pet on the Rideau Trail?
On-leash pets are permitted only on certain sections of the Rideau Trail. As a general rule, these are limited to sections on public land (i.e. municipal trails, provincial parks & Rideau Canal locks). Completing an end-to-end with a pet is not possible. The Rideau Trail crosses through many private properties where the RTA has negotiated access for hikers only as dogs or other pets may upset or agitate farm animals and wildlife. We thank hikers for respecting this rule as hiking through private land with an animal (even well-behaved and on-leash) can result in a landowner withdrawing permission for RTA hikers to access their property, requiring a great deal of effort by RTA volunteers to re-route the trail.
Can I bring my dog or other pet to Gatineau Park or the Greenbelt (NCC land) for a non-RTA hike?
Yes, in many cases. The NCC has information regarding pets in their Animal Regulations FAQ
How can I reach the National Capital Commission (NCC) which administers Gatineau Park and the Greenbelt?
Contact information for the NCC is on their website. It’s a good idea to bring along the NCC 24 hour emergency number (613-239-5353) if you will be entering Gatineau Park or the Greenbelt. This is true even if you don’t carry a cell phone since you may be with, or encounter someone who does