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Cross-country Skiing In Gatineau Park, Quebec

Cross-country Skiing in Gatineau Park, Quebec

Growing up in Ottawa, I was very lucky to live within spitting distance of Gatineau Park. As a kid I didn’t take advantage of the cross-country ski trails very often but if I lived in the area now, I would be a frequent visitor.

Here’s why. Gatineau Park is only 20 minutes from downtown Ottawa. In the winter, it offers fabulous cross-country skiing on over 50 trails stretching from Gatineau to Wakefield. There are trails for every level of skier – and loads of them; 200 kilometres for classic skiers, about 100 kilometres for skate skiers and 45 kilometres of backcountry trails for people who like to explore.

The start of trail #36 in Gatineau Park

The start of trail #36 in Gatineau Park

Perhaps nudism has been a problem in Gatineau Park

Perhaps nudism has been a problem in Gatineau Park

Across Gatineau Park, there are 15 starting points. It can be a bit confusing for someone new to the area so I’d definitely recommend a stop at the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre to get advice on local conditions; also, this is where you can pick up a map.

We were there on a couple of cold days towards the end of last February. We wanted a good workout so we would stay warm, so chose to do trail #36. As you can see from the sign, dogs aren’t allowed – and either is nudism.

The trail was pure delight, especially as our turnaround point was the rustic Herridge Shelter. It’s now a Federal Heritage Building but originally it was home to a family from Ireland, and then William Duncan Herridge, a politician after whom it has been named.

There are plenty of rolling hills in Gatineau Park

There are plenty of rolling hills in Gatineau Park

Total peacefulness on a weekday in Gatineau Park

Total peacefulness on a weekday in Gatineau Park

Skiing across the lake

Skiing across the lake

Signage is excellent in Gatineau Park

Signage is excellent in Gatineau Park

Historic Herridge Shelter

Historic Herridge Shelter

Delightful sections of trail through the trees

Delightful sections of trail through the trees

For a short side -trip, we decided to check out Healy House, another of the warming lodges, that was equally beautiful and in an even better location with sun pouring into the shelter on a cold winter afternoon.

Healy House - another of the historic warming lodges

Healy House – another of the historic warming lodges

Gatineau Park is dotted with lakes

Gatineau Park is dotted with lakes

Skiing in Gatineau Park

One of the bigger climbs of the day

Gatineau Park trails

Beautiful trails

On our second day of skiing we opted to try out some of the trails in the Wakefield area. As we were staying at the beautiful and historic Wakefield Mill, these were particularly easy to access. One trailhead in particular was no more than a hundred metres from the front door. I found the trails in this area to be very open with lots of meadows and fields.

Skiing out of Wakefield

Skiing out of Wakefield

Beautiful open skiing on the trails in the Wakefield area

Beautiful open skiing on the trails in the Wakefield area

Gatineau Park is one of my favourite places in Canada for cross-country skiing. I would love to participate in the Gatineau Loppet – the biggest cross-country skiing event in Canada one February.

The Gatineau Park Visitor Centre is located at 33 Scott Street in Chelsea. Trail passes are $15 per adult per day. You can buy the passes at the Visitor Centre or at kiosks by the trailheads. A real bonus for residents of the region is that they can ski for free by borrowing a park pass with a library card from libraries in Ottawa, Gatineau and the Outaouais region.

The Outaouais region can be very cold in winter so dress appropriately and bring a thermos of something hot to drink.

Cross-country Skiing in Gatineau Park, Quebec

Thank you to Outaouais Tourism for helping with this exceptional trip.

Leigh McAdam

 

 

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 57,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. Well there goes my nudist cross-country Gatineau post. Thanks for letting me know, so I will be sure to pack clothes. I hope to get up there this winter. Thanks for the continued inspiration.

    1. @Ted I will say that once when spring skiing in Colorado I came across a man skiing in what looked like a Speedo that left nothing to the imagination. But nude skiing in a Quebec winter – no thank you – how to really freeze your butt off.

  2. Looking like you have a awesome time their. You enjoyed a lot while skiing. Gatineau park is like a heaven for skiing lovers. There is not too much rush their. you can enjoy your time very silently.

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