1. Meech Lake Road (Chemin du Lac Meech)
In English, we call it Meech Lake Road, but we think the French name captures the reality better. This is a ‘chemin’ or path that runs from the old Village of Chelsea, past the Camp Fortune Ski Resort and 10 kilometres out to one of the largest lakes in Gatineau Park. And, after navigating this snowy path, you are conveniently close to the Nordic Spa-Nature, for a little rest and rejuvenation.
2. Colonel By Drive
Just over six kilometres along the side of the Rideau Canal, from the Chateau Laurier to Dow’s Lake, is this scenic leisurely, Christmas, driving tour. Starting in downtown Ottawa, you pass through a city lit up for the holidays and wind your way along the canal. Eventually, you’ll turn up at Watson’s Mill, a working museum where you can pick up some freshly stone-ground whole wheat flour for your holiday baking.
3. Highway 148 to Luskville
This picturesque tour of the Quebec side of the Ottawa River runs a little over 34 kilometres to Luksville. It will take you through Gatineau Hills and deposit you a short hike from the Luskville Falls. Of course, the Falls makes for a perfect spot to wander around and relax a little before heading back downtown.
4. Wakefield, along Highway Five
This beautiful expanse along the Gatineau River will take you past Mason’s Quarry, the Vorlage Ski Resort, and the Wakefield Covered Bridge. At around 33 kilometres from the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge, you can be there and back in a little more than an hour. Although you may want to spend a bit of time exploring the charming village of Wakefield.
5. The Confederation Path
Beginning near Westboro Beach on the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway, you wind along the Ottawa River until you find yourself downtown. From here you travel along Sussex Drive and pass by the row of international Embassies, before ending up on what was once called Rockcliff Parkway, now Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway. After about an hour of scenic roaming, you’ll find yourself out near the Orleans Fruit Farm, which is well worth a visit.
6. Constance Lake Road
Out past Kanata, in the community of Dunrobin, is Constance Lake Road. This farming road, not for the faint of heart in the winter months, runs from Constance Lake Lodge and the entry point to the lake. It goes past many cows in their pastures, and into a network of small farming village roads. The country scenery is incredible, and the winter road maintenance is light. While winter tires should be a must in Ottawa, they definitely are in rural Ottawa if you don’t want to spend the night with the cows.
7. Snow Road Station
The perfect winter driving destination, Snow Road Station, takes you well out into Ottawa’s rural surroundings. Winding roads and frozen lakes are around every corner, making it beautiful and a little challenging. Before heading out here in the snow, be sure you know your car well and how it performs on slick roads. While these trails are totally worth it for the winter driving enthusiast, they may not be a great place for the novice driver.
8. Ottawa to Cornwall
If you’re looking for a longer excursion, the drive from Ottawa to Cornwall takes you through all sorts of historic villages and beautiful vistas. Not to mention, it provides a brilliant opportunity to put your winter driving skills to the test. The catch is, you have to avoid the main highways. By taking Ottawa Regional Road 26, to Champlain Road (Country Road 8), you will wind along 112 kilometres of back-country road for close to two hours. Of course, once you’re in Cornwall, you will be treated to smalltown winter charm along the St. Lawrence. Be sure to check out all the seasonal activities on offer.
9. Lac Phillipe Road
Travelling along the western side of Lac Phillipe, this short route in and out of Gatineau Park is some of the best winter driving in the Capital Region. While only six kilometres long, and totalling about 12 minutes worth of driving, this winding road through the park provides ample opportunity to put your winter driving skills to the test. It may just be worth going back and forth a few times.
10. The Queen Elizabeth Driveway
This magnificent roadway follows along the Rideau Canal on the City side. If you pick it up close to City Hall and follow it around to the Dominion Arboretum, it provides a beautiful curve along the water and past Dow Lake. You will find it pretty well maintained through the winter and perfect for a leisurely winter drive.