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.
A beautiful clear Saturday afternoon called for a visit to Gatineau Park to do some hiking. The park is famous for its endless trails and the multitude of choices of where to go and how to get there. This trip was to visit the Carbide Willson Ruins. Located to the North of Meech lake, the ruins can be found after the 3km hike. The trail is not very challenging to get to the ruins, however, there is a long hill halfway there.
Surprisingly, the trail is quite popular and well traveled. Definitely, one of the more popular locations to visit.
Starting from the P11 parking lot by Meech lake, the trail heads up the hill to the North. The forest canopy providing plenty of cover and shade as you make the trip.
Eventually, you reach a long downhill section, which culminates with a bridge over the lake. Looking South from here you can see Meech lake and the cottages that flank the shoreline.
Continuing along the path, you will eventually reach a directional sign post. Oddly enough, to get to the Ruins, you need to head in the Un-Marked direction (in other words, to the Right).
Very shortly after, you will arrive at the Ruins. With waterfalls and cascading streams, the building is something out of a movie. Tall and imposing over its domain, it is slowly being taken back by nature. Trees, vines and leaves shoot up from the inside of the building, which no longer has any windows, doors, floors or roof.
The site is spectacular. A small bridge crosses over the water to the other side.
A curious round building.
The Carbine Willson Ruins were originally constructed as a factory to produce Calcium Carbide fertilizer. The structures took approximately 1000 bags of cement and were built in the early 1910s.
No matter how you look at it, the site is immensely impressive.
Beyond the ruins, the trail continues North and eventually hits more junctions, heading off in all directions of Gatineau Park.
Definitely something unique and different to experience, the Carbide Willson Ruins are another treasure of Gatineau Park, waiting for you to discover. No doubt, the Ruins will be even more spectacular when surrounded by the coming fall colours.
A great day in nature on Gatineau Park's Pioneer trail. This hiking path is easily accessible from the Gatineau Park parkway entrance off of Boulevard des Allumetières near Hull. A large parking lot and information centre and map await upon your arrival.
The Pioneer trail is not the longest trail and doesn't present much challenge as it has a relatively flat profile, but it is a great place to enjoy nature without having to go very far from the city. With a length of approximately 1.5km, the trail in the form of a loop takes about 30-40 minutes to walk.
All along the path are interpretation panels, allowing you to learn about settlers in the Outaouais region and the Park’s forest diversity.
The love tree, carved with care by plenty of couples who have walked this path together.
The whistling wind and the brushing of the leaves, you really feel at peace and with nature in Gatineau Park. The ever expansive forests that seemingly never end bring out anyone's sense of curiosity and exploration.
The Luskville Falls are located about 30 minutes from downtown Gatineau. With easy access by car, simply take Boulevard des Allumetières, until it turns into route 148 and follow that. After about 15-20 minutes, the road will switch into a divided highway, and the exit will be one of the first gravel roads to the right shortly after. Follow the road and turn left and you will arrive at the falls trail. The area is peaceful yet quite busy with visitors, as the trail is fairly popular to hike.
A bit of forewarning, the trail is fairly steep, but nothing too challenging. Good footwear is recommended as most of the path is on rocks of various sizes and shapes.
Beginning the trail from the parking lot, you head slightly downwards, then begin your ascent. The full hike up is approximately 300+ vertical metres.
As you hike, the path follows a rocky path, almost in the form of stairs.
Not long after the beginning you see the base of the majestic falls up close. The flow of the water is greatest in the spring, as the melting snow can create an impressive rush of water passing down the rocky facade.
Continuing along the trail, some sections are steeper and windier than others, but you are often brought back close to the waterfall, making you appreciate this natural wonder and leave you wanting to continue onward.
At several spots, the water can be crossed over. There also seems to be a little dam created by some industrious forest dwellers.
At the time of our visit, due to the abundant rainfall of May, the upper half of the trail was closed. When it is open, you can continue along to a fire tower as you follow the water to its source.
This trail is one of the most scenic trails in Gatineau Park to experience. The challenge and variety of the terrain makes it very enjoyable to hike and discover. The action starts as soon as you leave the parking lot, with incredible views of Luskville as you hike and reach the summit.
A sunny late summer Saturday always signals the perfect time to go exploring and hiking. Having been interested for some time to see what all the fuss over the Lusk Caves was about, Ana and I ventured out to the Philippe Lake area to hike the trail and check out this unique attraction in Gatineau Park.
The Lusk Caves were created some 12,500 years ago from melting glacial waters. This melting water was forced into cracks of the Marble rock, eroding them more quickly than the other type of rock present, which led to the creation of the unique tunnels that are explorable today. To this day, water continues to stream through the cave, continuing this erosion and gradually shaping the cave. Exploring the cave is an experience all on its own, clearly a fact recognized by the amount of people visiting.
The Lusk Stream flows through the cave and as a result, exploration consists of passages of water, some dry and shallow, others with water levels as high as a metre or more. There are brief sections that are visible from above, along the Lusk Cave trail, but the majority is in the dark, so flashlights are a must.
Starting from the Parent Beach area, we chose the Trail 50, which passes along the beaches and shores of the Philippe Lake area. You can experience various micro climates, some areas cool and refreshing, while others hot and humid. This trail is relatively easy to cross, as it is mostly flat with some slight hills and rolls. For the final third of the trail to the cave, the terrain becomes more hilly but still easy to navigate.
A famous deer from Disney's Bambi movie made a brief appearance along the trail.
After walking for about an hour, over a distance of approximately 4km, you arrive at the exit of the Lusk Cave. The exit is notable as it is almost entirely submerged under water. People exiting have just enough room to pass with their heads out of the water.
Continuing past this point, and ascending the stairs, we head towards the main entrance to the cave, located 150 metres away and higher up in the mountain. The trail now takes us past several points where the rock opens up, allowing a view from above into the cave and those passing through it.
With the sound of running water becoming ever louder, we finally arrive at the entrance to the Lusk Cave. Here, plenty of people have set up camp and are preparing to venture through.
Here is a map, prepared by the NCC, showing the layout of the Lusk Cave, and illustrating the water levels found within.
Whether the goal is to explore the Lusk Cave, or to simply enjoy the hike along the trail, this area is definitely worth a visit. The hike from the Parent Beach parking to the cave and back is 8.6km and takes about 3 hours to complete. From beautiful scenery, to amazing geological features, you will return home relaxed by nature, and exercised by adventure.