Whether you’re hiking with friends & family, by yourself or as part of a group outing organized by the Rideau Trail Association, the key point to remember is being prepared. Dress for the weather and be sure to bring enough food and water.
We offer this popular full-day course once or twice a year. It is aimed at new hikers and those interested in making hiking safe and enjoyable. Topics include hike planning, preparation, packing, outfitting and on-trail procedures, plus an orientation to hiking with a guided group. Learn more!
Planning an outing along the Rideau Trail?
Check out the RT Trail Alerts page and Environment Canada’s weather forecast before heading out. You might also want to look at the latest air quality report, which is available for Ottawa and Kingston.
For a Typical Hike
- Bring lunch, water, sunscreen and insect protection where required.
- Wear strong footwear and come prepared for weather changes.
- For Rideau Trail Association group outings, consider the level of the hike and if in doubt about your physical capability, speak to the hike leader listed in our printed or email newsletter well in advance of the day of the planned hiking event. If you aren’t an RTA member, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Participants in outdoor activities during the Canadian winter can encounter serious weather hazards. It is assumed that in preparing themselves prior to any winter activity, Rideau Trail users will:
- understand the causes, preventive measures and treatment for hypothermia;
- dress appropriately (in layers), bring lunch and water and be prepared for unforeseen delays on the trail;
- understand that changes in weather and snow conditions can affect the difficulty level of a trail;
- have experience on and be familiar with their own equipment;
- for skiers, be able to perform at least the basic diagonal stride, snowplow and herringbone manoeuvres with confidence under a variety of snow conditions.
Responsible Behaviour on the Trail
There are a number of responsibilities that an outing participant must undertake to adhere to when participating in any group activity with the RTA.
A Hiker Must Be Responsible:
- For their own welfare and good behaviour, and
- For respecting the land they’re travelling through, whether public or private.
- Continued access to private and public land by the RTA depends on careful and considerate use of these lands.
Hiker’s Responsibilities on the Trail
Hikers are expected to respect the environment they pass through as they experience nature’s beauty during their time in the outdoors and observe the following code:
- Hike only along marked routes – do not leave the Trail.
- Use stiles to climb fences & close gates after you.
- Camp only at designated campsites and obtain camping permits where required.
- Light fires only in campsite fireplaces – carry a lightweight stove.
- Leave the Trail cleaner than you found it – pack out your own and others’ garbage.
- Leave flowers and plants for others to enjoy.
- Keep dogs on a leash.
- Keep wildlife wild. Protect and do not disturb wildlife.
- Use the Trail at your own risk.
- Do not ride motorcycles on the Trail. Very few areas are permitted for trail bikes & horses.
- Practice Leave No Trace principles. Leave only your thanks – take nothing but photographs.
Hikers are expected to respect private property when parking. Sections of the Rideau Trail pass through private property, and our relationship with landowners is very important to the continued success of the trail. Park in designated parking areas whenever possible. If no public parking is available, please be respectful when parking on private property and do not impede access to driveways or the landowner’s access in any way.
Group Outing Preparation
Carpooling is organized at each of the meeting places. Passengers travelling with drivers share the cost of gas to the amount specified for each hike in the newsletter. For some hikes that include entry to a conservation area or provincial park, an additional fee is required and is shared among the car occupants.
Personal Responsibilities During Group Outings:
- Participants must choose activities suitable to their physical capabilities and skill levels.
- They must inform the leader before the start of a hike about any health problems they have and any difficulties with their equipment.
- They must respect the leader’s judgment and their own financial obligations for the activity.
- Parents and guardians must supervise their own children.
Personal Fitness Requirements
The various outings organized for members’ enjoyment require a certain degree of physical fitness. In order to inform everyone in advance of the relative difficulty of any particular activity, each organized hike includes a rating (1, 2, or 3) in RTA’s print and email newsletters. Prospective participants must be familiar with these ratings before an outing. They are described below for the most common outings that you’ll see in our newsletter.
Hiking Activity Levels (Degree of Difficulty)
- Suitable for beginners. Well-defined trails, gentle inclines. Hiking boots not required, but trails may be wet.
- Generally on trail. May include hills, light bushwhacking, some rough spots or obstacles. Boots recommended.
- Rough terrain, difficult hiking and extensive bushwhacking. Boots, level 2 experience and a high level of fitness essential. Long pants and sleeves recommended.
Cycling Activity Levels
- Few hills, broad roads or bike paths, little traffic.
- Some hills, narrower roads, some traffic; participants should be fit and be experienced cyclists.
- Long hills, narrow roads; excellent fitness and good cycling skills required.
Note: The RTA does not provide formal instruction in winter activities.
Skiing Activity Levels
- Flat terrain, variable length.
- Gentle hills, may be long distance (e.g. 15 km)
- Variable terrain, some steep hills. Level 1 experience needed (Green and Blue trails in the Gatineau Park).
- Long, varied terrain, may be off trails. Level 2 experience essential (Black trails in the Gatineau Park).
Snowshoeing Activity Levels
Snowshoeing is rated at the same levels as Hikes, 1 – 3.