Time for another Ontario adventure! And this time, we’re heading east towards Ottawa where you’ll find its only inland sand dune complex – within a forest. Curious to learn more about this unexpected discovery? Here’s what to know about the Pinhey Forest sector of the Greenbelt.

The vast forest is located in the southwest end of Ottawa and is home to over 6 km of nature trails. Here you’ll be able to go for a stroll on a lovely afternoon, at any point during the year, and enjoy the many twists and turns the trails take you through.

Not only is the area home to these said trails but also Ottawa’s only inland sand dune complex— the Pinhey Sand Dunes.

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“It’s quite an unexpected surprise to enter the forest only to be met with sand dunes,” shares the National Capital Commission.

“The vegetation in Pinhey Forest was established on old postglacial sand dunes. This unique ecosystem is home to a number of plant and animal species that can live only in well-drained, open areas with exposed, fine-grained sand.”

According to Ottawa-Gatineau Geoheritage Project, the dunes have survived “with minor modification for over 10,000 years, developed on an old shoreline of the Champlain Sea that inundated the region during the waning stages of the last ice age.” How cool is that?

It’s important to note that since the Pinhey Sand Dunes are home to an extremely sensitive ecosystem, you must stay outside the enclosed parts.

Nearby parking may be subject to a fee but other than that, go out and explore the dunes and the beauty that the Greenbelt has to offer.

The Pinhey Dunes

Where: Slack Rd, Ottawa, ON