Explore Ottawa - Pinhey Sand Dunes

White Sandy Oasis in the Middle of Ottawa

By National Capital Commission and SL Levine July 2, 2020

Did you know that in the West end of Ottawa, there is an amazing 10,000-year-old sand dune ecosystem?

It's kind of fabulous to walk through a traditional forest in the City and emerge onto an open space filled with white sandy dunes.

The Pinhey sand dune complex extends from Woodroffe Avenue just south of the Nepean Sportsplex to the intersection of Grenfell Crescent and Burnbank Street. 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.

The Pinhey Sand Dunes represent one of the most unique ecosystems in the Capital Region. The dunes provide habitat for a number of plant and animal species that can live only in sunny, exposed areas. The summer surface temperatures of the dunes range from 60°C to 72°C, and the dry, fine-grained sand measures three to five metres deep. Biodiversity Conservancy International (BCI) has been working with the NCC for close to a decade to restore this rare, threatened ecosystem in Canada’s Capital Greenbelt.

The National Capital Commission manages and preserves this ecosystem and works to ensure it is maintained and cared for. It is open to the public and visiting and picnicking is encouraged. 

If you are looking for new and unique places to visit in Ottawa, check out the Pinhey Dunes. Have a tip for where we should explore and share? Email me at

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