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Shane

Snowshoeing - Mont Cascades

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It was a beautiful Sunday morning at Mont Cascades. After several days that brought some fresh snow, the trails were all covered nicely with fresh powder and a soft but firm base.

The trails at Mont Cascades are suitable for all skill levels and difficulties and are free to access. There is a parking lot located right at the trail entrance.

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Almost all trails lead you to the summit via the backside of the mountain. The #5 trail is the most direct route but is the steepest to travel. For today's visit, we took a combination of the #2-3 trails, and then the #4 trail to the summit area. This route is on average easy to intermediate but provides a nice scenic trek through the forest. As you near the summit, you are treated to views of the Gatineau River and the surrounding region.

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The trip up to near the summit and back to the parking is approximately 3.5 kilometres, with a vertical of 90 metres. We did not venture to the absolute top on this visit due to coming poor weather (freezing rain). To give you an idea, continuing to the top would add an additional 40 metres of vertical to the trip for an approximate total of 130 metres.

Mont Cascades is a great location to hike and enjoy. The trails are easy to follow and are quite enjoyable to explore. The views along the way make you want to press forward and continue on.

There are two trails (the yellow and grey) that start from the World Cup side of the mountain and head towards the summit. Something we will try on our next visit...

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We thought it would be a relatively cold day to go snowshoeing as the temperature was being advertised as -16'c with the windchill. Yes, in the open area of the parking you could feel the fridged wind, but once you enter into the forest and as you ascend the mountain, you no longer feel the cold, and actually end up removing some layers, notably the neck warmer. Don't let cold weather fool you into not going out to snowshoe, you'd be missing out on a great experience.

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The quiet sounds of nature and snow. Surprisingly there was an area filled with birds up above in the trees, as you will hear in the below video clips.

 

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Nice I've always wanted to check out those trails.  It seems the trails are in the area of the planned expansion of the ski slope on the backside of the mountain.  Though I haven't heard much about expansion plans in a while.

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Hi Gordo, yes it is quite nice. The easier trails are quite enjoyable, and the steeper ones (that we had done in the past, like the #5) are a good challenge. Overall a great place to hike and discover. The parking being ample and right at the trail entrance, as well as the ski lodge nearby for a break or lunch are also appreciated. The trail start is located to the right of the Magic Carpet beginner area, just follow the parking lot all the way to the back right corner. Enjoy and happy trails!

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    • By Shane


      Many people of Ottawa/Gatineau know Mont Cascades, as a nice, family friendly ski mountain. With trails on three distinct sectors, the mountain offers skiers and snowboarders a little bit of everything.
       
       

      What very few people know is that Mont Cascades also features some of the most fun, the best views, and most challenging snowshoeing trails in the region, and that's exactly what Ana and I went today to experience ourselves. If you have snowshoes already, then you are all set to start, but the mountain also rents them for a reasonable cost if you don't.
       
       


      When you arrive at Mont Cascades, park at the far end of the parking where the lot goes in towards the right side of the magic carpet beginner slope. Go to the end, and the snowshoe trail entrance is to the right.
       
      The trails are well planned out, and well indicated, with small maps posted at key locations and junctions, to help you get your bearings and position. There is a total of 6 trails, ranging from easy to intermediate, to difficult, and to expert.

      Trails 1-3 are easy trails, staying mainly around the base of the mountain, with not much vertical to ascend or descend. Perfect for your first time out or just a relaxing exercise. Trail 4 is an intermediate trail, and no doubt offers the best views on the second half of it's length, showcasing the Gatineau river, and the surrounding region. Trail 5 is just a steep wall to the top, which is to be expected as it is the most direct of the trails to the summit and the shortest. Trail 6 is the longest trail as well as among the steepest, following the contours of the mountain, and having lots of steeps to ascend, then descend, then ascend again before reaching the summit.
       

      Either way you choose, you are in for a great experience. And the views at the lookout points at the summit, or near the top of Trail 4 are worth the time and effort.
       

      Our recommendation would be to have some good snowshoes and accompany that with poles, to help you be more stable and solid with your footing, if you plan on tackling Trails 5 and 6. We were going to attempt Trail 5 to go back down the mountain, but it was above our skill level to descend, so make sure you only try it if you are an expert snowshoer.
       


      At a reasonable pace, plan for about an hour and a half per direction, allowing for time to rest and enjoy the magnificent views of the mountain and region. Don't forget to bring a camera as the views at and near the summit are worthy of a souvenir picture. On our visit, we started with the Trail 3, up till Trail 6. Trail 6 proved to be a challenge due to the many steep sections. Once at the summit, we decided on taking Trail 4 (and discovered its great views and vistas, that were absent from Trail 6) to return to the base.

      We highly recommend you give Mont Cascades a try on your next snowshoeing adventure.
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