Travel

Driving from Toronto to Ottawa - Best Route?

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  • Sep 9th, 2011 9:55 am
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Sr. Member
Nov 9, 2004
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Driving from Toronto to Ottawa - Best Route?

going to be leaving Saturday morning to drive to Ottawa.
Wondering if anyone has ever taken Hwy 7 the entire way there to the 417 as a way to avoid 401 traffic.

Thoughts?
17 replies
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Sep 30, 2003
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definitely not the fastest route whatsoever! most of the small towns you pass through have 50km/h speed limits, and cops love catching ppl doing 80-100 on them. (especially on long weekends). you WILL take longer, not even counting the lights you will hit, other traffic and bad roads.

but if you want a nice, relaxing cruise route, then definitely a good option.
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Dec 3, 2003
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Hiway 7 route is more interesting. 401 to 416 is dull.
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May 10, 2005
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mlc2000 wrote:Hiway 7 route is more interesting. 401 to 416 is dull.
You may be right but at least you are moving and not stuck behind boat trailers, campers, buses, milk trucks, tractors...you get it.
Jr. Member
Mar 16, 2006
135 posts
I spent 4 months once commuting between Toronto and Ottawa (drive down Sunday night, drive back Wednesday night.) I started by going 401 to 416 to 417 and then back again, but it was really boring and even late at night you had to fight with trucks for every inch of road, especially between Kingston and the 416 near the border crossings.

After a couple of weeks, I went Hwy 7 and never went back to the 401. It is peaceful and beautiful, even if you do have to go a bit slower (there is no real time penalty, it'll take you 5 hours on Hwy7 and 5 hours on the 401 since you fight traffic and have to double back on the 416.)

The best part is a stretch once you get past Madoc where for about an hour or two there is nothing and no one. In the middle of the night, with all the stars shining unmolested in the empty darkness and not a single other vehicle anywhere for miles and miles its one of the most enjoyable drives in the world. During the day, you're still driving through some excellent Upper Canada wilderness, so its pretty nice too.

If your car is a clunker, stick to the 401. If your car is decent and you want to see a bit more of this beautiful country, by all means take Hwy 7.

My advice is to take the 401 to Newcastle, then head north on the 115 to Peterborough, and then 7 from there.
Sr. Member
Feb 3, 2006
887 posts
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Good posts

What about from Barrie to Ottawa?

I remember hearing that a few friends from this part of Ontario woul travel directly across.
Sr. Member
Feb 3, 2006
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Has anyone ever travelled to Ottawa from Barrie alon this route:

Hwy 11, to Hwy 60 through Algoquin Park, then up Highway 17 to Ottawa.


Any suggestions, recommendations, warnings, etc.?

Much appreciated
Jr. Member
Mar 16, 2006
135 posts
fogo wrote:Has anyone ever travelled to Ottawa from Barrie alon this route:

Hwy 11, to Hwy 60 through Algoquin Park, then up Highway 17 to Ottawa.

Any suggestions, recommendations, warnings, etc.?

Much appreciated
I've done that once, only in reverse. Lots of fun to drive, but I stopped in Barry's Bay at a friend's cottage, and in Huntsville to visit some other friends along the way. However, driving through the park can be a bit of a pain in that:

1. You really, really, really have to follow the speed limit all the time. Not only will you get nailed very hard by the cops if they catch you speeding in the park, but with deer and moose and other animals crossing the road in greater abundance than anywhere else in Ontario the last thing you want is to plow into one of them at 150kph (or even at 50kph, for that matter.) If you survive the colision with a moose, you're not going to like what the police will likely charge you with afterwards.

2. The above animals cause a lot of rubbernecking and people stopping on the side of the road to take photos. This can catch you off guard and cause an accident or delay you for a long time in traffic jams.

3. It isn't a straight line or clear route from start to finish, and it isn't always very well marked. You really have to have a map and know exactly where you are going beforehand. To get from 60 to 17 can be a little complex.

4. Logging trucks. Everywhere. This part of Ontario was built and still relies very heavily on the lumber industry. You will get stuck behind many logging trucks, often going up and down big hills.

5. Service stations are few and far between. You need to hit the park with as full a tank of gas as you can, if you can.

The point is, if you are not in a hurry at all, and want to see animals and spectacular scenery and drive slowly to enjoy it all, then this route is fantastic. If you want to make it in less than a full day's worth of driving, then take 7 or the 401.

Another excellent route is to go north to North Bay, and then take 17 straight across to Ottawa. You follow the Ottawa River most of the way, and you get to go through very pretty scenery. Aside from the longer duration, the biggest pain is having to drive through CFB Petawawa. You won't see much of the base, and that part is actually quite boring, but the likelihood of getting stopped behind a military convoy doing 40kph is very high (and no, you can't go around them.)
Sr. Member
Feb 3, 2006
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Awesome post

Much appreciated!

Maybe highway 7 is the best way to go?
Sr. Member
Dec 25, 2004
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Personally I think anyone who takes Hwy 7 is insane. If I'm going somewhere I'm going for a reason and don't have an extra 2 hours to spend driving. Sure the drive would be prettier...but would you rather spend your time driving or have an extra few hours in Ottawa?

I've done the drive often and rarely have issues on the 401. Leave before or after the Toronto rush and the drive is fast and easy. Only issues I've had is weather in the winter but thats life in Canada.
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Dec 13, 2006
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Burlington
Wow... old thread. I'm doing this trip on Friday night and it looks like 7 is the way to go. Google Maps at least says it only adds 30 minutes to the trip.

That isn't bad at all. The actual distance travelled looks about 50KM less... I guess the speed limit on the 7 is only 80?
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Oct 19, 2003
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I just did this trip Last week when I went to Tremblant. The 401 route only takes 3 1/2 - 4 hours. Not sure where the 5 hours comes from.
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Feb 20, 2006
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bibowski wrote:
Sep 6th, 2011 10:37 am
Wow... old thread. I'm doing this trip on Friday night and it looks like 7 is the way to go. Google Maps at least says it only adds 30 minutes to the trip.

That isn't bad at all. The actual distance travelled looks about 50KM less... I guess the speed limit on the 7 is only 80?

Speed limit drops down to 50 when you enter into the small towns, which also have a lot of lights which really eats into your time. And the limit is 80 for the most part with just 1 lane.
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Sep 25, 2005
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Try to avoid Highway 7 if driving during night time. You may end up hitting a deer or even wolf.
For me, I'd much rather take the 401, but then be careful if speeding cause there are tons of cops between Kingston and Brockville.
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Mar 30, 2004
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I prefer 401-416 but if you want an alternate route, take the 401 to hwy 37 to hwy 7. Shortest mileage route by far and doesn't take noticeably longer than the 401-416
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