The Orleans Nordic Ski Club (ONSC/the Club) has groomed, and track set cross country ski trails for classic style (diagonal stride technique) at Green’s Creek/Hornets’ Nest, Mer Bleu (west of Anderson Road) and Pine Grove Forest (north of Leitrim Road) for more than 20 years. The Club has permits from the National Capital Commission and the City of Ottawa along with the necessary by-law variance that allows the use of motorized equipment on the Hornets’ Nest playing fields.

The Club grooms and track sets 33 km of trails (all 3 areas) that are open 24/7. The Club and the NCC work collaboratively to clear and brush the trails in the fall before the ski season start.

Each of these 3 areas share common characteristics that influence how and when grooming can take place.

    • The trails are generally NOT paved or hard surface.
    • The trails are generally narrower than other trails in the National Capital Region. In some places, the ski trail is only slightly wider than the groomer. They are NOT suitable for skate skiing – try the Ottawa River trail network.
    • There are boardwalks and bridges incapable of supporting heavy grooming equipment.

    Grooming equipment must be trailered from site to site. Because it is trailered (we do not have a tandem trailer, nor do we have a truck) the grooming equipment is mechanical rather than hydraulic or electric. Trails are groomed by a skidoo pulling a groomer/track setter.

    There are no trail fees imposed by the Club, the city or the NCC although the Club gratefully accepts donations (cash, email transfers etc.).

    For the past 4 years, the Club has received financial support in the amount of $11,750 annually from the NCC that pays for about 1/3 of its grooming operations. The Club gratefully acknowledges this funding. It is essential for the long-term viability of the Club.

    La Commission de la Capitale Nationale et la ville d’Ottawa contribuent financièrement à l’Alliance des sentiers d’hiver en milieu urbain. Le Club de ski nordique d’Orleans est un des 6 membres fondateurs de l’Alliance.

    Depuis quatre ans, la CCN nous donne 11,750$ afin de défrayer les couts associés avec la préparation des sentiers d’hiver. En plus, la CCN a engagé un contracteur afin de préparer les pistes à Pine Grove et à Mer Bleu. La ville d’Ottawa s’occupe de déneigement des stationnements liés aux pistes de ski. Le Club de ski nordique d’Orleans apprécie grandement ce support financier qui est essentiel à la viabilité a longue durée du Club.

    The NCC and city provide funding to 6 area cross country ski operations through an organization called the Winter Urban Trails Alliance. ONSC is a founding member. The Club pays for all other expenses. The groomer (the person) is reimbursed for real expenses (gas, oil etc.) but is NOT paid. Grooming and track-setting by a commercial operation cost upward of $105 per hour.

    The Club grooms and track sets trails when the ground is sufficiently frozen and there is at least 10cm of snow on the ground (a condition of our permit). Grooming is done by a volunteer and there is no set schedule. Equipment is moved from site to site by trailer and is kept at a residential address in Orleans when not in use. Equipment is not left on site.

    When grooming and track setting is being done, a sandwich board sign is temporarily posted at the main access trailhead. The sign says, “grooming in progress-damage des pistes en cours”. Temporary no parking signs are also posted; if you are using the area when grooming is in progress, please leave enough space for the equipment to be safely off-loaded, loaded onto the trailer.

    Grooming is done when there is sufficient snow, new snow or when the cross-country ski tracks need refreshed. The Club owns only 1 set of grooming equipment, and the groomer can only be at 1 site at a time. It can take up to 6 hours to groom EACH of the 3 sites after a heavy snowfall.

    You can ski while grooming is underway, but you should exercise caution if you meet the groomer while he is working. The Club uses a black skidoo Scandik snowmobile – clearly identifies as belonging to the Club- that will be pulling either a large red groomer/track-setter or a smaller black one. Grooming and track-setting is a LOW-SPEED operation (less than 12 km per hour). Track-setting at higher speeds results in wiggly ski tracks. The skidoo and groomer are, together, more than 20 feet long. Please do not expect the skidoo and groomer to move over for you.

    At the start of the season or after a heavy snowfall grooming may take multiple passes to compact and spread the snow on the TRAIL. Once packed, the groomer makes an additional pass on each side of the trail and sets a classic cross-country TRACK. The middle of the ski trail is packed and groomed. Alternate users (walkers, fat bikes, snow shoers) are welcome to use the middle of the ski trail. The tracks are reserved for classic style cross country skiers. Skate skiing and ski-joring (skiing with your dog on a lead) are not permitted.

    When/if you see/hear the groomer approaching, please move to the opposite side of the trail, stay in the track if you are skiing and whatever you are doing, STOP. It is not necessary to move off the trail into the woods. Accidents can happen when both the groomer and the skier are moving. The groomer will NOT change sides to accommodate a skier/walker/fat biker. The combined length of the skidoo and groomer is about 20 feet-it is NOT easily maneuverable.

    It takes less than 30 seconds for the groomer to pass. Once clear, continue to ski. There are few skiers who can keep up with the groomer on a sustained basis; it is not a good idea to try. The groomer can stop very quickly and unexpectedly. If you are chasing the groomer, you can run into it potentially breaking equipment or injuring yourself.

    Please do NOT jump in front of the skidoo, hold up your hand and shout “stop! You are not allowed here.” We are on the trails under permit-you risk injury!

    Quality of the Ski Trails and Tracks

    In a perfect world, grooming of the trails and tracks would be done daily (overnight) using million-dollar snowcats and the trails and tracks would be allowed to ‘set-up’ before use. This is not possible in the Greenbelt given the nature of the trails, the number of users, the timing of grooming and the equipment used.

    In preparation for the 2021/22ski season, the NCC contracted for clearing and brushing the trails at Pine Grove Forest (after the cutting of approximately 700 diseased trees in the spring of 2021) and the Green’s Creek sector. Club volunteers did the brushing and clearing of trails at Mer Bleu. This clearing and brushing means wider trails with double tracking for classic skiing contributing to social distancing.

    Walkers who stroll directly on the TRACKS rather than the groomed middle of the TRAIL are the primary cause of damage to the ski tracks. There is ample room in the middle of the TRAIL for alternate users. Encourage respectful use of the trails in a respectful manner; please do not get into confrontations.

    Skiers who still use old equipment, back country skis or older touring skis damage the cross-country ski TRACKS because these skis are wider than the track that is set by the groomer. SOLUTION. new skis from Santa!!

    You can phone 613-837-SNOW to get information about when the latest grooming and track-setting has taken place.