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Gatineau Park

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Gatineau Park

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Gatineau Park [1] 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 fall colours when the leaves turn to bright yellow, red and orange and the hills seem to be on fire. The colours peak late October. Although they are spectacular throughout the park, one of the best views is from the base of of the Eardley Escarpment at the Lusk Falls parking lot.
  • Champlain Lookout offers breathtaking views onto the Ottawa River valley from the Eardley Escarpment. The lookout is accessible by car and is a popular spot for watching sunsets.
  • Kingsmere used to be the country estate of William Lyon Mackenzie King, the tenth Prime Minister of Canada. Upon his death, King donated the estate to the Canadian Government. The estate now allows the public to take a leisurely walk through gardens and "ruins" collected by King in a woodland setting. A small waterfall also runs down the escarpment near Moorside. After this walk, guests can stop at the tea house for light snacks and refreshments.
  • Pink Lake. Contrarily to what its name might imply, this lake takes on a vivid green colour in the summer months. Unlike glacier lakes from the West Coast whose colour is due to mineral suspension, the green hue of Pink Lake comes from tiny algae that thrive because of the lake's meromictic nature. The lake's name comes not from its colour, but from the name of the family who originally owned property in this area. The lake is accessible by car and there is a short hike that takes you around it.
  • The village of Wakefield, Quebec is technically not inside the Gatineau park, but it is this nearby and worth the visit. It is located by the shore of the Gatineau River and has neat little shops and cafés. It is also the terminal for the old-fashioned Hull-Wakefield Steam Train which goes through the village twice a day during the summer months.
  • Laflèche Caves are technically not in the park either but are also worth a visit. See the cave's Official Site for details.


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.


There are three 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.

  • Philippe Lake

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).

  • Taylor Lake

A small, quiet lake next to Lac Philippe, Taylor Lake has more private campsites, and offers a more peaceful and secluded camping experience.

  • Meech Lake
  • Carmen Lake
  • Brown Lake
  • Lapêche Lake

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).

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.

Mountain Biking

Skiing and Snowshoeing

Wildlife Watching


There are very few places inside the park that sell food. However, the villages of Wakefield and Chelsea close to the Philippe and Meech Lake areas of the park offers excellent dining options.



There are three places to camp in the park.

  • Philippe Lake has a broad range of sites going from walking (short walk) sites for tents only to full-service sites for RVs.
  • Taylor Lake a small and quiet campground for tents only. Most sites have access to the lake.
  • Lapêche Lake has a number of canoe camping sites.

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.


The nearby villages of Chelsea and Wakefield have a number of inns and bed and breakfasts which are reasonably priced.


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)

National Capital Commission Gatineau Park Website

Stay safe

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