Gatineau Park
This page is about the 60% of Gatineau Park within the
municipality of Pontiac, MRC des Collines de l’Outaouais, Québec, Canada.

Gatineau Park is 363 km2 in total, 60% (218 km2) of the park is in the municipality of Pontiac.
Gatineau Park makes up 49% of the municipality of Pontiac.

Gatineau Park is situated on the southern Canadian shield in southwest Quebec. Maps of Gatineau Park are available at the visitor centre for $4.95 including tax. There are separate maps showing winter trails and summer trails.
Gatineau Park Visitor Centre: 33 Scott Road, Chelsea. (819) 827-2020.
Open 7 days a week, 9 am to 5 pm.

Just a few minutes from the Capital, unspoiled forests and kilometres of trails provide the perfect setting for hiking, biking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing or taking in the historical sites and beautiful scenery. Services and accommodation are available in the municipality of Pontiac as well as Old Chelsea, Wakefield, Masham, Aylmer and Ottawa-Hull.

For anyone interested in walking or skiing in Gatineau Park, Katharine Fletcher’s book Historical Walks: the Gatineau Park Story, Chesley House Publications, Quyon, is an absolute must.

Eardley Escarpment. The steep, south facing slopes of the Eardley Escarpment have an unusual micro-climate. The southern exposure and lack of moisture produce the growth of atypical plants for this area. There are stunning views of the Ottawa River from the Champlain Lookout and Western lodge (both in the municipality of Pontiac), see Champlain trail.

Lac Philippe. Most of the lake itself is in the municipality of Pontiac, including Parent Beach and Smith Beach, as well as many of the camping areas in this sector. There is a family campground at Lac Philippe with 246 sites. (Camping reservations: (819) 456-3016). Boat and mountain bike rentals are available. There is a snack bar and convenience store. In July and August there is an interpretive program. Winter camping is available at the group campsite (south of Lac Renaud), for those who want to challenge the cold. White-tailed deer, porcupine and raccoons are often seen in the surrounding forest, even from the park roads.

Lac Mousseau (“Harrington” Lake, named after the Hetherington family) and the Prime Minister’s official retreat are in the municipality of Pontiac. Access to the public is not allowed.

Named trails wholly or partly in the municipality of Pontiac (see Katharine Fletcher’s book for more detailed information:

The section of the National trail in Gatineau Park was opened in summer 1992. It runs between Wakefield and Ottawa and passes within 1 km of Lac Mousseau/Harrington Lake (trails 50 and 52, Herridge shelter). About 8 km of the National Trail is in the municipality. It is a shared trail for hiking and mountain biking, or cross country skiing. The idea for the creation of a trail to run all the way across Canada came from a group of avid hikers in the early 1970s. This section, with the Rideau Trail, allows hikers to walk from Wakefield to Kingston.
The Trans Canada Trail follows the same route through the Park. In other areas, but not in Gatineau Park, activities such as snowmobiling are allowed on the Trans Canada Trail, but the National Trail is designated for hiking.

Wolf trail. This circular trail climbs from Meech Lake (Blanchet parking lot (fee), P13) to the Tawadina Lookout over the Ottawa valley and has great views of the Park itself from Mahingan (= wolf) Lookout.

Champlain trail. This leaves from the Champlain Lookout, where the view of the Ottawa valley and Luskville’s agricultural plain is worth seeing. The walking trail forms a loop, 1.3 km long on hilly terrain, elevation 15 m, approximate time 35 minutes. An NCC brochure is available. The Eardley Escarpment has warm dry conditions that favour red oak, ironwood, eastern red cedar, and plants that are absent or rare elsewhere in Canada. In the park’s interior, away from the south facing escarpment, maple forest is found, which needs cool, moist conditions. The Champlain trail demonstrates both these microclimates.

Lusk Cave trail. Lusk Cave and the cave trails from Parent Beach are in the municipality of Pontiac, as is the Lusk shelter near Lac Lusk.
The hiking trail, from Parent Beach (parking fee) on Lac Philippe, via Lusk cave, and returning by Lusk Lake, (50, 54), is 12 km long, elevation 80 m, approximate time 2.5 to 5 hours. A shorter hike (or bike) is from Parent Beach along the shore of Lake Philippe, passing the Smith Beach parking lot in the campground, to the foot of the lake (leave your bike here). Then turn right following the signs, up a steep trail to the caves (about 15 minutes), returning the same way. Take spare shoes and a flashlight if you intend to explore the cave — the water is about a metre deep in one place.

Luskville Falls trail. Walking trail, 1 km, elevation 20 m, 25 minutes. Luskville Falls trail starts from the entrance to Gatineau Park close to Pontiac’s Town Hall in Luskville, on chemin Hôtel-de-ville. A short, steep scramble leads to the Falls, and Lusk lookout. The waterfall is spectacular in the spring. Continuing on up the steep trail, there is a second lookout (Pontiac) and the fire tower, which is the beginning of trail number 1, Ridge Road, which leads to Chelsea. The fire tower, near Luskville Falls, is also a great destination for skiers leaving from Meech Lake. From here you can see a wide expanse of the Ottawa valley. The fire tower is a reminder of the forest fire detection methods used in the early 20th century.

Ridge Road. Champlain lookout to the fire tower is a very long hike.

A horse-riding trail also starts off chemin Hôtel-de-ville, and leads west along the edge of Gatineau Park and the escarpment to Eardley-Masham Road.

The Eardley-Masham Road leads to a picnic site at Church Hill Falls off the Eardley-Masham Road, about 3 km north of highway 148 (free parking). BBQs, picnic tables and outhouses are provided. About 3.5 km further north is Ramsay Lake, where rare bog asters can be seen in profusion along the bog mat in fall. Across the road from Ramsay Lake is the start of the shared biking/hiking trial to Lac Philippe. This trail passes close to Kidder Lake and Taylor Lake.

Shared trails, for hiking and mountain biking are all trails with a solid base suited to both hiking and mountain biking. Trails in this category link many sites in the Park between Hull and Lac Philippe.

Five of the seven year-round shelters or lodges in Gatineau Park are in the municipality of Pontiac:
Lusk (on Lac Lusk), McKinstry, Herridge and Healey Farm (on and near 50), and Western.

Herridge Shelter, built in 1880, was the Cafferty family’s farmhouse. These Irish immigrants struggled to survive farming the poor soil until 1906. It was later owned by William Herridge who used it as a winter retreat for years.

Healey Farm. This farmhouse was established about 1863 by Irish immigrants Edward and Bridget Healey, who farmed about 200 acres (81 hectares) of this poor agricultural land. The house was renovated and opened as a year-round shelter in November 2007.

Western Lodge may be reached by the McCloskey trail from Ridge Rd or from the Champlain Lookout (see Katharine Fletcher’s book or Gatineau Park summer trails map).

Lac la Pêche is part of a vast wilderness area within Gatineau Park, that takes up most of the northwestern part of the municipality (North Onslow). The access road turns off the Eardley-Masham road about 12 km north of highway 148. There is a beach at Lac la Pêche. Canoes and row boats may be rented. In summer there are 35 sites on 12 campgrounds for canoe-camping. (Camping reservations: (819) 456-3494).
In winter, this wilderness area is accessible only to the well prepared snowshoer and back-country skier. For those who take the time, the beauty and the solitude are unmatched.
To ensure your safety, carry a compass, a topographical map of the area, a change of clothes and an ample supply of food and drink. A GPS receiver, or cellphone with charged battery may be useful too, but cellphone coverage is spotty.

Last updated 08/4/6