Gatineau Park  is the outdoor playground for Canada's National Capital Region (Ottawa and Gatineau). It offers amazing possibilities for outdoor recreation, within a 20 minutes drive of either city. This includes: skiing (cross-country and downhill), hiking, canoeing, camping, rock-climbing, mountain biking, roller-blading, wildlife watching and leisurely strolls.
The park offers a wide variety of outdoors activities. Two very good maps are available that show the network of trails for both summer activities (biking, hiking, beach access) and winter sports (cross-country skiing, snowshoeing). The maps can be bought at the Capital Infocentre at 90 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario, or the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre, at 33 Scott Road, Chelsea, Quebec. They are also available at the right time of year on the park website [link below]
There are many lakes in the park with beaches where you can go for a swim and a picnic. They tend to be crowded on hot weekend days.
There are 4 very good beaches at Lac Philippe. The 3 north beaches tend to get busy during peak summer weekends. You can also rent canoes on an hourly or daily basis to explore the lake. A good paddle, hike or bike ride to the south end of the lake will take you to a more secluded beach, and is also the trailhead for Lusk Caves (see below).
A small, quiet lake next to Lac Philippe, Taylor Lake has more private campsites, and offers a more peaceful and secluded camping experience.
There are beaches and swimming at Meech Lake, but the beaches are smaller and more crowded than those at Lac Phillipe.
A bit further than any of the other lakes from the city, but well worth the drive. Again there's a beautiful beach, with lots of sand, picnic tables, and rest rooms. Canoe rentals are also available and well worth it to explore the vast lake. You can easily spend days paddling around the whole lake, exploring nooks and crannies, streams and rivers. The lake is also home to the only canoe-camping in the park, and the sites offer the best in away-from-home camping. All sites are only accessible via canoe, and are far enough away from the beach to offer a very tranquil setting.
There's lots of great canoeing in Gatineau Park, on any of the lakes listed above, or some of the rivers surrounding the park (Ottawa River, Gatineau River). Canoes can be rented at Philippe Lake.
Hand Gliding and Para Gliding
The park is packed with excellent hiking trails. Everything from a 20 minutes leisurely stroll in the woods, to all day hikes through valleys, across streams and around lakes. A trail map is a great help to help you navigate the wealth of trails available. The classic guide to the trails is "Historical Walks - The Gatineau Park Story" by Katherine Fletcher. This book also contains historical information about early settlers and how the park developed.
Skiing and Snowshoeing
There are three places to camp in the park.
There used to be a Youth Hostel near the park on Carman Road (just off highway 105). It has been closed for a number of years, but is supposed to reopen some time in 2006. (Apr 2011 - Now permanently closed)
The Mill Inn in nearby Wakefield offers top-range accommodation.
Gatineau Park Information and Ski Conditions: (819) 827-2020 or 1 800 465-1867 (toll-free).