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Stephen Bierbrier and his daughter at Carlington Hill. Photo provided by Stephen Bierbrier.

Ottawa’s top tobogganing hills

By Stephen Bierbrier on January 7, 2019

Stephen Bierbrier is a tobogganing enthusiast. You can find him on the local slopes, which he reviews on his YouTube channel with his daughter.

The way we see it, tobogganing gets you off your couch, it’s totally fun, and it gives you an actual workout. We love outdoor skating, but it can be a challenge waiting for the Rideau Canal to open and only a few rinks can guarantee good ice throughout the winter season. Skiing—whether it be downhill or cross country—can be cost prohibitive and difficult to access without a vehicle. Snowshoeing is definitely great and very accessible, but it won’t bring the same thrill of snow flying up your nose and your heart pounding with excitement.

The icy crest of Green’s Creek. Photo by Stephen Bierbrier.

Tobogganing is so very Canadian and you can do it on the cheap. The thrills and spills are priceless memories that you can experience solo or with family and friends. Tobogganing is half thrill seekers, half spectator sport, and half child at heart (wait, that’s 150%). Maybe you’ll be so hooked into the hills that you’ll be Canada’s luge rep at 2020 Beijing Winter Olympics! Your parents will be so proud.

Favourite hills in Ottawa

Here are some of our favourite spots. There are many hidden gems in your neighbourhood so check them out too.

Bruce PitNCC property. Greenbelt. Dogs are around. 3.5 stars
Carlington HillVery steep since it was a ski hill. There are 2 hills so double down and enjoy the speed. It’s family friendly. It can be busy. No lights.5 stars
Conroy PitNCC property. Greenbelt. Dogs around. Lights 4-11pm.4.5 stars
Grasshopper HillFamily friendly. Good beginner hill. 2 stars
Green's CreekNCC property. Greenbelt. Lights.3.5 stars
Hog's Back ParkAcross Heron Road from Vincent Massey Park (we will acknowledge that people toboggan here, but we prefer Hog’s Back), this is a good starter hill. Not super speedy, but glad there is a fence. 2 stars
Jacques Cartier ParkDuring Winterlude, the NCC sets up tube slides at JCP. Huge lines. Family friendly. Great photo op. Let it snow. 2 stars
Mooney's BayViews and speed. A great hill workout too. 4 stars
Walter Baker ParkFast and Furious for the Kanata folks. A good hill. 4 stars

Advice for fellow tobogganers

EQUIPMENT: We recommend you go super basic with your sled. Don’t get caught up with too many gadgets. You just want something that is light, that you can hold onto and control, and that has minimal friction with the ground. We are not fans of the tubes because they need a lot of incline to zip. We also highly recommend a helmet for ALL (yes, the young and not so young). If you would wear a helmet while biking or skiing, why wouldn’t you wear it when you are bombing down a hill? Protect the noggin, eh.

CLOTHING: Wear layers (don’t overdress) and a good pair of winter boots. Remember that what goes down must go up, so dress in comfortable bright clothes that can make the trek up a hill more than once. Otherwise, the usual suspects of hat, gloves, neck warmer, and maybe goggles. Avoid scarves that could get caught on obstructions.

ETIQUETTE: Be respectful of other toboggan enthusiasts, but also know when there might be the need for a few polite words with those who may have decided to sunbathe right in the middle of the prime toboggan run.

SAFETY FIRST: Since you are making the choice to toboggan, there are risks involved and we want you 100% healthy so:

  • Up the hill from the sides; down the hill in the middle.
  • Always sit on your toboggan. No standing. No backwards.
  • Children should always be on sleds with an adult.
  • Be aware of your environment. Hills can be icy and dangerous with obstructions (holes, branches, rocks). Do not toboggan near roads and water ways.
  • Only use lit hills at night.
  • Stay off the hills when they are closed.
  • Users toboggan at their own risk AT ALL TIMES.

Take a look back at some of the best toboggan hills of Ottawa’s past with Samantha Everts’ 2011 overview.