South March Highlands

Test out a run crew favourite

Trail / Hike

A little tougher

Half day

The South March Highlands Conservation Forest is a favourite of the MEC Ottawa run crew, and for good reason. With ponds and sugar maple trees lining the route, this 13km run through an old-growth forest has a lot to offer trail runners and anyone who wants to take their workout off the beaten path.

South March Highlands

South March Highlands Trail Network, Klondike Road, Ottawa, ON, Canada

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Driving time from Ottawa

25 minutes

Lakes in the park

14

Trails to explore

26 short ones

Planning your run

Step into wilderness not far from the city

Getting ready

Since you’ll be running in a park and not on the road, you won’t be able to pop into a convenience store to grab an energy drink if you’re feeling thirsty. This route is 13km long, so make sure you’ve got a trail map, a comfortable pair of trail runners, enough water for your run, an extra layer and your running watch or fitness tracker. For some more ideas of what to bring to be self-sufficient, check out our beginner trail running tips. There are some uphill and downhill portions on this run, so it’s a good place to work on your trail running technique.

What to expect

Make your way to the intersection of Klondike Road and Old Second Line Road. This entrance is in a residential area but you can park your car on the side of Old Second Line Road. The park has a bunch of well-marked trails rated green through black for difficulty, and this route brings you through a mix of all the challenge levels. The trails get tougher (by incline and terrain) the farther you get into the back of the park, so if at any point you feel too challenged, you can simply head back along a green or blue trail.

Heads up: these are multi-use trails that you’ll be sharing the trails with mountain bikers, so keep your ears and eyes open (best to leave the earbuds at home for this run).

The route

Start with a light jog down Klondike. Take this time to warm up and check out the lakeside scenery before turning right on PWT. Follow PWT all the way past Bailout and onto Outback, winding past bodies of water. As you reach the back of the park you’ll be about halfway through this route – get onto Cannonball trail and start heading back.

Along the way

The park is home to lots of wetland areas and an impressive outcropping of Canadian Shield terrain. It’s a popular spot for orienteering (which is great practice for both trail running and navigating), and during your run you’ll pass by ponds that are home to birds and local forest critters. On warm days, watch for turtles sunning themselves on the rocks and logs nearby.

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