The National Capital Commission (NCC) just announced that Gatineau Park’s winter trail network opened today, Wednesday, December 15!
While Gatineau Park is beautiful in any season, it’s especially enticing in winter. Best of all, it’s only 15 minutes’ drive north of Parliament Hill, meaning that enjoying this wilderness setting is an integral part of many Ottawans’ lives.
There are more than 250km (155 miles) of trails available in the park, allowing hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in a variety of settings. Some are gentle, flat trails — including the popular and universally accessible Sugarbush Trail adjacent to the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre in Chelsea, Québec.
The Park boasts 10 daytime shelters where skiers or snowshoers can warm up at wood stoves and enjoy a snack or lunch that they may have brought with them. It’s also possible to spend the night in one of Gatineau Park’s four cabins, three yurts or by winter camping under the stars at Philippe Lake. Reservations are required for these activities.
Cross-country skiers need to purchase a ski pass — you can purchase a season pass online or at the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre. Daily passes are also available at the Visitor Centre or at any of the park’s parking areas that provide direct access to the open trails. Daily rates are $13 for adults, $9 for youths (13-17 years old), $9 for students (18-24) and seniors (60+), and free for children 12 and under. A family pass (2 adults and 3 youths) is $27.
There are no fees to snowshoe on the park’s 45km (28-mile) snowshoe trail network, accessible from parking lots 6, 13, 15, 17, 19 and the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre in Chelsea.
There are no fees to use the 10-kilometre winter walking trail network, accessible from parking lots 3, 6 and the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre. Domestic animals are permitted on leash on winter walking trails only.
You can find up-to-date ski conditions and trail statuses online or by calling the trail conditions hotline at 819-827-2020, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
What are your favourite trails? I’ve snowshoed the Wolf Trail near Meech Lake a few times and while it’s a gruelling uphill hike, the views are definitely worth it!
Get out there and enjoy!