I have always loved the outdoors…thanks to some adventurous parents, nature became my happy place at an early age. I was so excited to move to Ottawa for university knowing that the outdoors was just a quick drive away. Ottawa is so close to some awesome hikes, ski hills, and trails. Over the past four (plus) years, I’ve grown to love exploring Gatineau Park all year round. I’m lucky to have some outdoorsy friends & family who jump at the opportunity to check out a new trail.
As social media has become more popular, the park has become busier and busier, but I’ve definitely found some ways around that. Hiking early in the AM or on weekdays makes for the best time to enjoy some quiet and serene trails and to get those shameless insta pics. I’ve rounded up some pictures from each trail I’ve explored and also included some of my favourite après-hike stops close to the park.
Trails to Brave the Winter.
Lauriault Trail, one of the few trails open in the winter months is connected to the Mackenzie King Estate. This trail features a beautiful waterfall (in the warmer months) and some good terrain up to a beautiful lookout over the valley. Not a tough hike, but a good length, this trail makes for a beautiful trail to hike bright and early on a winter morning.
More of a walk then a hike, but nonetheless, one of the beautiful features of Gatineau Park…the Mackenzie King Estate is a great “outdoor” museum. Some old ruins of Ottawa buildings brought to the grounds make for a beautiful juxtaposition in nature. In the summer, the estate has some beautiful gardens, a museum about Mackenzie King, and even a delicious tearoom restaurant to check out for lunch.
Definitely a bum burner, but a fun winter hike that I can’t wait to check out once the weather warms up (for an unfrozen waterfall). Girl Gone Good (my fellow Ottawa adventurer) and I geared up in our warm clothes and braved this hike in some beautiful snowfall. Thank goodness Vicki had lent me her micro-spikes cause this hike was steep and I may have had an “unintentional” bum-slide down the trail which made for some good laughs.Trails to Sweat Out the Summer.
Pink Lake Trail.
Pink Lake is absolutely gorgeous and quite a good workout with a lot of stairs to climb up and down. The trail is located around the lake offering beautiful views from all angles. Each time I’ve gone I’ve been blown away of the breath taking view of the lake but disappointed by how crowded the trail can be.
Brad and I hit this hike on our second date (I think he was trying to impress me), cause man this is a tough one. Well worth the sweat and sore muscles for the gorgeous landscape views from the top. A bonus of this hike is that the trail head is right beside Lac Meech to have a refreshing swim after a hike without having to move your car from the TINY parking lot that’s always full in the summer.
My mom and I checked out these two trails in the same day, just a short drive between the two. The Champlain Lookout trail features a beautiful view of the valley from the parking lot and is the longer one of the two (of which I don’t think we did the whole 11.3km). King Mountain, a quick 1.8km loop also features some beautiful views to explore and get some pretty photo ops.Trails to “Fall” For.
One of the first trails I ever hiked in the park, was one I randomly stumbled on because it was close to Old Chelsea and when my friends and I went in November we didn’t realize the Gatineau Parkway was closed to vehicles. The Sugarbush Trail is probably the closest to Old Chelsea and is a nice 1.8km loop through the woods, especially pretty in the fall with the fallen leaves covering the trail.
The Carbide Willson Ruins trail has it all, a beautiful lake to begin the trail, then some super cool ruins of an old mill with a waterfall to finish off the hike. I’ve done this hike in the summer and fall and both times the views were stunning. A great hike to do with family, some of the trail is flat and wide, other parts are a bit more steep and rocky.The Perfect Après-Hike Stops.
The Chelsea Pub.Chelsea Pub is always one of my go-to spots after I’ve been in Gatineau Park as it’s convenient (right on the route back to Ottawa) and the food never disappoints.
La Cigale is a cute spot to grab an ice cream or baked good on your way back to Ottawa. A perfect summer stop with lots of outdoor seating and a cute plant shop behind to check out while you enjoy a tasty treat.
Biscotti & Cie.
One of my absolute favourite coffee shops, located behind the Chelsea Pub, Biscotti & Cie is the perfect place to warm up after a chilly winter hike and has delicious matcha lattes and almond croissants. The upstairs loft is the coziest with colourful pillows on the floor and string lights lining the slanted ceilings. Such a comfy place to hang out and chat with friends and warm up your frozen toes.
Located in Aylmer, Café British is a cozy shop with delicious lattes and sandwiches to enjoy post hike. I love the aesthetic of the exposed brick and fireplace and the cafe has lots of seating to sit down with your hiking buddies.a free shuttle from downtown Ottawa to the park for students and people without cars to be able to enjoy the park and the beautiful fall colours.
My next hiking goal is to explore some more hikes (in Ontario) near Ottawa, so stay tuned for a future post about some more great trails to check out!