Cross country skiers in the Outaouais are collectively holding their breath for snow, but for now, a walk in the woods in Gatineau Park will have to suffice.
It is the first season since I first started to buy a season’s pass to ski in Gatineau Park that I have not been out skiing before Christmas. With gorgeous blue skies and an icing sugar frosting of powdery snow on the ground, it was time to head out for a walk in the woods. The conditions were gorgeous and it was surprising to see so few people in the park. If it were ski season, we may not have even gotten a parking spot at P10 (parking lot) at the bottom of Fortune Hill. For today, we had the place to ourselves as we headed out and up the parkway. We followed what will soon be ski tracks, and went walking through the woods.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words – may I present to you, in all the splendour of the season – scenes from Gatineau Park.
We had Fortune Parkway to ourselves as we wandered up to the parkway end of Burma (Trail 3). Heading into the forest, we continued along the ski trails, enjoying the sights and sounds of nature. In the winter when skiing, I have often heard woodpeckers in the forest. No such luck today, however we saw a number of birds and came across a beaver dam and lodge that looked tucked in for the winter.
As we turned back on to Ridge Road, we ran in to a number of people out hiking and trail running. Great to see a few more people out enjoying all the Park has to offer. We took a brief break at Huron Cabin. Huron is a popular destination for families with winter skiing. A great spot to heat up by the fire or pot luck dinner on skis with friends. Friday night dinners in the park are one of my favourite things – Huron is just one of the cabins on offer. There is no electricity at the cabin, so be sure to pack candles with your dinner! Very cozy.
We turned back onto the Fortune Parkway and headed back down the hill to the car. I couldn’t help but capture one more view on the way down – an icy water cascade at Huron Trail and the Fortune Parkway.
We are very fortunate in the Outaouais to have Gatineau Park, known locally as The Gats. It is a Park for all seasons with a wealth of choice, from hiking, cycling and kayaking to ski and snowshoeing! There are plenty of places to get out and give your camera a workout too. (For more photos, click here.)
The walk was by no means strenuous, however care needed to be taken as there were some icy places. While we saw very few people, we could see frozen footsteps in the ground. Strategically placed wooden benches meant you could take a seat, soak up the sun and contemplate the beautiful surroundings. Gatineau Park is a great place to go with so much to offer – get out for a walk in the woods, enjoy the natural surroundings and fresh air.
Only 20 minutes from Ottawa, take Highway 5 to Chemin Old Chelsea. Follow to the base of Fortune Parkway, also know as Dunlop Road. Follow the fork in the road to the left. P10 parking is on the right with a walking access to the parkway at the far end of the parking lot.
Click here for more history about the Park.
Click here to link to post about kayak camping in Lac La Peche.