Canada / Ottawa

Finding Ottawa’s Secret Pinhey Sand Dunes

Where is that? When I told my friends about Ottawa’s sand dunes, they were baffled. Like myself, most of them have lived for years and never knew they existed. But after finding out about them two years ago, I finally got around to checking out the secret Pinhey Sand Dunes.

Pinhey Sand Dunes

To get to them head to Pineland Ave. in Nepean. The entrance is marked by a wooden gate, near the corner of Pineland Avenue and Vaan Drive.

From there, it is only a few steps to the dunes themselves. Compared to the massive Dune of Pilat in France, Pinhey Sand Dunes sure is tiny. But that doesn’t take away from its charm. Part of the fun of the location is mixed in suburbia, where you least expect to find something like this.

When arriving, the first thing I was left wondering is, where did all the sand come from? There are no lakes or rivers nearby. The NCC states the sand came from the Champlain Sea and came here 10,000 years ago.

The dunes used to be much larger, but now less than 5% remains. Large sections of the sand are off-limits for conservation, which began in 2011. Now areas are roped off, but you can easily enjoy the sight past the rope barriers.

When visiting, you’ll be able to walk over some of the sandy areas. The entire loop will take 5-8 minutes, making it an easy walk. If you wish to explore further, trails continue into the surrounding forest too. Only a short distance from the entrance you’ll also find a sign with the trail paths, and a picnic table.

The Pinhey Sand Dunes are free to visit. There is also free parking at the Pinhey Forest P14 and P15 parking lots, along with street parking. The easiest way to find the location is by searching “Ottawa Sand Dunes” in Google Maps.