The dog days of summer are upon us! What better way to cool off than to go for a dip at one of Ottawa’s riverside beaches and swimming holes. For the water-obsessed pups, swimming is the perfect way to stay cool and get in some exercise.
Ottawa has very specific rules surrounding dogs in city parks and beaches. The Dogs-in-Parks Designation Policy was put in place to establish which parks allow dogs and which ones don't. However, the policy can be pretty hard to navigate sometimes.
Luckily, I’ve done the hard part for you and created a list of all the places in Ottawa you can take your dog for a swim. Here's is a list of 13 water access points where dogs can splish splash to their heart's content!
(Just a reminder before you hit the beach, be aware of the water quality before allowing your dog for a swim. Blue-green algae is most common in fresh water on warm and sunny days and is highly poisonous to dogs. Take precautions when taking your dog swimming. Do not let them into water that has a green, paint-like tint, looks like it has a slime covered surface, or there’s a greenish film along the shoreline.)
The Baxter Conservation Area is located directly along the shores of the Rideau River. It’s a beautiful example of a river floodplain. There are over 5km of trails that lead through forests, meadows, and wetlands for you and your dog to explore. Baxter is host to one of the cleanest beaches along the Rideau. After a nice swim, there are also several large picnicking areas and one covered shelter for you to use and enjoy. (Note: There is a fee for parking. It’s $7 per vehicle or $50 for an annual parking pass. Pay machines take coins or credit only.)
7498 Carter Rd, Kars, Ontario
Open year round 8am-8:30pm
While dogs are not actually allowed on the beach, there’s a small area downstream from the beach where dogs can swim. If you’re at the beach facing the water, the area can be found to the left. It’s open to the water’s edge and you and your pups can enjoy a refreshing splash. Keep in mind there are no lifeguards on duty so keep all water safety rules in mind during your visit.
Dogs must remain on-leash in all areas of the conservation area.
Beryl Gaffney Park consists of almost 96 acres of woodlands and pasture stretching along the southern edge of the Rideau River. It features hiking trails that are perfect for all skill levels. As one of Ottawa’s designated off-leash dog parks, dogs will have a fantastic time running the trails or watching all of the birds flit back and forth among the trees.
3889 Rideau Valley Dr, Nepean, Ontario K4M 1A5
Dogs are welcome to play in the water along the Rideau River.
Beryl Gaffney Park is designated as an “off-leash” dog park as of the Dogs-In-Parks Designation Policy. However, dogs must always be on their best behaviour. Also, please remember to pick up after your dogs.
Brewer Park is a municipal park on the north bank of the Rideau River, near Carleton University. It's popular with kids and students who use the soccer and baseball fields, hockey arena, and play structures.
100 Brewer Way, Ottawa, ON K1S 5T1
Dogs are welcome to play in the water along the Rideau River.
Constance Bay is a recreational area located in West Carleton-March Ward. The area offers many fun activities during the summer months such as boating, water skiing, hiking, canoeing, and cycling. Active dogs will have a great time trotting along with the family as they enjoy warm weather fun.
Constance Bay Rd Ottawa, ON K0A 3M0
Constance Bay is situated along the peninsula between Constance and Buckam’s Bay on the Ottawa River and there are two beaches that dogs are welcome to enjoy along with their family. Known as Constance Bay Beach and Auger’s Beach they’re both great places to swim along the Ottawa River! They are public beaches, however, many private properties are nearby so it’s important to keep the area clean and be respectful of the residents. There are no lifeguards on duty though there is a 911 paramedic station close to Auger’s Beach.
Dogs must be on-leash at all times at both beaches.
Located along the border of the Rideau River, your dog is sure to have the best day ever in this off-leash dog park. David Bartlett Park consists of almost 35 acres of greenspace for dogs to run and play in. There are also trails around the park for dogs who may not want to necessarily mingle. (Not judging. You do you, pup.)
3889 Rideau Valley Dr, Nepean, ON K4M 1A5
Dogs are welcome to cool off in the river and pond. Be aware that the currents near the dam and the lock can be quite strong. Dogs should be leashed and watched carefully in these areas for their safety.
David Bartlett is a designated “off-leash” dog park. However, dogs must be on their best behaviour and leashes must be worn in the parking lot.
Dutchie’s Hole Park is a lovely area in downtown Ottawa that’s separated from the chaos of the city. It features a children’s wading pool, walking trails, and cycling areas. Dogs will have a great time running free in Robinson Field where they can play off-leash. It’s a great place to explore the greenery and wetland along the Rideau River.
154 Mann Ave, Ottawa, ON K1N 8J7
Open 24 hours
There is a sandy beach area that dogs can swim and splash in along the river.
As per the Dogs-In-Parks Designation Policy, dogs are not allowed within 5 metres of the children’s wading pool. Dogs must remain on-leash everywhere except in Robinson Field.
Although small, Jock River Landing is most popular for kayaking and canoeing launches and paddle boating in the Jock River. It’s known best for it’s annual Jock River Canoe Race. Fishing is also pretty popular here although it’s a hit or miss as to whether or not you’re likely to catch anything. There are some walking trails to enjoy as well. Parking is free, however, there are no restroom facilities (unless you’re a dog – in which case, the world is your bathroom.)
10 Lodge Rd, Nepean, Ontario
The waterfront area is small and mostly used for launching small boats, however, dogs can wade in the water away from boat traffic.
The area is fairly popular day and night. It’s advisable to keep your dogs on a leash at all times.
The Kennedy-Craig Forest is a hidden haven for nature lovers. There are multiple entrances to the hiking trail behind the residences that goes straight through the forest. You will be surrounded by beautiful woodland scenery for the entire hike. Some areas of the trail are slightly more difficult to cross through and may be a bit difficult for senior dogs. However, your dogs will love the fresh forest air and leading the way through the trees and over quaint little bridges that cross Barrhaven Creek.
63 Maple Stand Way, Nepean, ON K2G 6R4
Barrhaven Creek intersects the hiking trail in a few places and runs mostly parallel to it. Dogs will love splashing through the shallow creek waters. The trail connects to the pond at the Clarke Bellinger Environmental Facility as well.
Kennedy-Craig Forest is listed as an Ottawa off-leash park. However, some signage in the areas closer to residences show on-leash only. Please follow signs appropriately.
Lemieux Island is nestled in the Ottawa River between Ottawa and Gatinaeu. It’s home to the Lemieux Water Purification Plant but also Lemieux Island Dog Park where dogs can play freely off-leash. You’ll be able to enjoy wonderful views of the city from the park including views of the Prince of Wales Bridge.
1 Onigam St, Ottawa, ON K1Y 2C4
The dog park has river access for dogs to cool off on hot summer days.
The dog park is an off-leash park where dogs can run and play freely. However, there are signs closer to the water plant that ask pet owners to leash their dogs for safety reasons (particularly closer to parking lot traffic.)
Quigley Hill is a small but idyllic place to watch the sunset over the Ottawa River. After you park, the river is just a few steps away. There are picnic tables for public use or several fallen logs that are perfect to sit and relax on. It is a popular place for boating and boat watching. (It’s also a Pokestop if you happen to be into that.)
2033-2045 Ottawa Regional Rd 174, Cumberland, ON K4C 1H
There is access to the river directly from the parking lot. There is a small beach area used to launch boats where dogs can enjoy the calm Ottawa River waters. Be aware that there is a steep and rocky decline towards the river that dogs can get hurt in if not careful.
Quigley Hill Boat Launch has no city designations for dogs. It is recommended to keep your dog on a leash.
Remic Rapids Park sits just off the shore of the Ottawa River just 4 km from Parliament Hill. The park is home to various wildlife and beautiful natural areas. During the summer months, the NCC Bistro in the park is a great place to grab a quick lunch during your visit. The most popular attraction in the park though are the balanced rock sculptures done by artist John Felice Ceprano. Although the sculptures are closed to the public, there is an area nearby where you can try to create your own rock sculptures near the river.
Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway, Ottawa, ON K1A 0K9
Open 24 hours
There is river access in the park that you and your dog can wade in.
Dogs must remain on-leash at all times in the park areas.
There is plenty of room to play fetch in this off-leash dog park. Bordering the Rideau River between Sussex Drive and Beechwood Avenue, this scenic park has water access, biking and walking trails, and children’s play areas. There are plenty of great views of the river including waterfalls and the Minto Bridge.
183 Stanley Ave, Ottawa, Ontario K1M 1P2
Open 24 hours.
Although the beach area is closed off to dogs, there is a smaller gravel beach where dogs can frolic in the water.
The majority of the park is listed as off-leash and dogs. However, they must be leashed on the multi-use pathways and are not allowed in the children’s splash pad and play area.
Strathcona Park is a large park located on the west bank of the Rideau River in the Sandy Hill neighborhood. There is something for everyone to enjoy in this beautiful park including a new pedestrian bridge that crosses the river, cycling paths, and a play structure for children. For dog owners, there’s a pathway that runs along the river where dogs can explore on-leash until you reach Dutchie’s Hole and the Robinson Field off-leash park.
25 Range Rd, Ottawa, ON K1N 8J3
There are small beaches with shallow water that are perfect for dogs down the river path. It’s a bit of a walk but there is certain to be an area suitable for your dog.
Strathcona Park is a mixed designation park. Dogs are allowed on-leash only on the pathway along the river between the pedestrian bridge and Dutchie’s Hole Park. No dogs in the rest of the park.
Don’t forget to bring the essentials like drinking water, poop bags, and doggy-safe sunscreen for pups who might need it. It’s also important to remember that all dogs are not natural swimmers. Keep a close eye on your dog at all times while in the water.
I hope my list of dog-friendly swimming holes was helpful and that you visit some with your pup this summer. Do you have any favourite spots that you think I should add? I'd love to read them in the comments!
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