The Best Places to Hike in Gatineau Park, Near Ottawa
One of the best things about Ottawa, is its proximity to nature. It is easy to get out of the hustle and bustle of downtown and truly escape. Whether it’s visiting a cottage for a weekend, or going for an afternoon walk, you’re covered. Gatineau park is a 361-square kilometer conservation area, just outside of Ottawa. It is a popular hiking spot, with many trails of varying difficulties and lengths.
Bienvenue à Québec!
- A short and easy trail, about 2KM, passing lake Meech.
- There is an uphill slope at one point, yet the hike is a simple, clear pathway directly past Meech lake to the Carbide Willson Ruins. A great hike to bring your kids or the dog!
- The ruins are the remains of the paranoid inventor Thomas Willson, who essentially created the process in which we create the chemical calcium carbide. This was his summer home and laboratory, a lavish building for the 1890’s.
- Tips: Park at P11 for O’Brien beach. Make sure you walk around the ruins once there, for a view of the other side!
- Rated as a moderate hike, this almost 8KM hike is accessible year round.
- There are beautiful views, especially of the fall colours, overlooking the Gatineau Hills and Ottawa Valley. Turn right to hit the trail counter clockwise for the best scenery!
- This trail is not recommended for a first-time hiker. There are a lot of uphill portions so you will get your sweat on! Takes about 4 hours depending on your activity level and any photo/lunch stops.
- Tips: Parking lot shared with the beach so busy during the summer/weekends! Park at P13. If it has been rainy your shoes will get muddy.
- A 2.1 KM easy hike, around the perimeter of Pink Lake.
- There are two starting points with parking lots; the lookout point or just up the street.
- Pink lake is in fact green, but named after the Pink family who settled in the 1830s. It is a meromictic lake meaning that the water does not mix as it typically should in a lake, resulting in lack of oxygen near the bottom, and a unique ecology.
- Tips: It will take longer than anticipated due to all the photo spots! There is an option to add this trail to a longer more moderate hike via trail 15 (6.3 KM).
- A short 1.8KM trail with gorgeous views, some trail sites rate as easy but it is more moderate level.
- If you go clockwise at the fork it will give you a bit more of a challenge, saving the lookout closer to the end.
- The trail connects to trail 8 if you wish to make it a longer hike, just be mindful where you park (i.e you can park at Kingsmere and follow several attached trails).
- Tips: If you feel like a lot of hiking, there are multiple nearby ones to explore beforehand! Bring your camera – you’ll regret it if you don’t get a snapshot of this view.
- A 4.0 KM, easy hike near Gatineau, Quebec, with a lookout point and modest waterfall.
- The trail leads you to the Mackenzie King Estate, which is a fun surprise. You can plan ahead and join a group taking tours on the estate, or opt to wander and read some of the information boards. There is a beautiful garden area, tearoom and café, as well as museum portion inside.
- Tips: Give yourself time to check out the estate and maybe even book a tour! The full tea service is delicious and fun!
- A 4.2 KM hike near Pontiac, Quebec, the overall hike takes about 2 hours, including a snack stop at the fire tower (which ends the trail).
- This trail is definitely a workout! The first stretch of the trail is mostly uphill and requires some navigating up the rocks. There are nice views of the Ottawa River valley along the way, but no view at the fire tower. It’s definitely easier, but you’ll still be sweating, on the way down.
- Don’t go in the summer if your heart is set on seeing the waterfall! The falls were completely dry in early August.
- Tips: Don’t forget water & proper footwear. I would also recommend an inhaler for any asthmatics (you never know!)
If you need more information about the trails and area:
- The information centre has only a short, easy path, but has maps and information if you’re looking for more details about the park itself.
- The trees in the area are gorgeous, and there are picnic tables there to enjoy the sunshine.
- The visitor centre is actually located in Chelsea, Quebec; walking distance to shops and restaurants such as the historical Pub Chelsea, and the Doozy Candle shop.
Let us know in the comments if we’re missing any awesome hikes and we’ll check them out!