If there's one thing Ottawans love, it's looking outdoorsy. Gatineau Park, just north of the Ottawa River, provides some of the most accessible trails to go explore nature in the region. You'll hardly think you're even close to a city.
With the changing colours of the fall season, the trails give you access to some of Ottawa's most beautiful and tranquil sites.
The best part is that you don't need to be an Olympian to go explore the trails. The trails are well-marked and not too steep. All you need is a positive attitude, a pair of good shoes and your phone ('cause your pics are going to be unreal).
Here are the 10 best trails in Gatineau that you need to explore with your squad:
1. King Mountain Trail
One of the most popular trails in Gatineau Park and appropriately so. King Mountain, the highest hill in Gatineau, rises to a modest height of 345 metres. It's a tall point to reach, but nothing too intimidating for intermediate walkers. Once you get to the top, the view is breathtaking.
Time: 1 hour
2. Pink Lake Trail
Arguably the most popular trail in Gatineau Park. The turquoise (not pink) colour of the lake is a one-of-a-kind in Gatineau. There's actually only a few lakes of its kind in North America. The trail itself is fairly flat and well-kept.
Time: 1 hour.
3. Huron Trail
This scenic route has very few ups and downs and is more of a long walk. This is a preferable hike for those who want to cover as much ground as possible in a day. It's one of Gatineau Park's less travelled trails and is sort of a gem in that respect. The trail leads up to another nice vantage point: Étienne Brûlé Lookout.
Time: 4 hours.
4. Wilson Carbide Ruins
Starting from beautiful Lac Meech, this sort of "unofficial" trail takes you to some of the best-kept ruins in Gatineau. The structure itself is actually a little over 100 years old (built in 1911). The trail is a bit muddy and hilly, but no competition for good footwear.
Time: 2 hours.
5. Luskville Falls Trail
As mentioned in the title, there's a waterfall. You'll be following up the waterfall for most of the trail, but the hike itself is not so steep. Although, Luskville Falls Trail is one of the more strenuous of the Gatineau Park Trails. Nonetheless, the 290 metre walk brings you up to another Gatineau Park vantage point. Expect this trail to be busy.
Time: 2.5 hours.
6. Lauriault Trail
This loop trail was Prime Minister Mackenzie King's personal favourite in Gatineau Park. After all, the trail was right in the backyard of his own estate, which you can visit before or after you're doing your short and easy hike.
Time: 1.5 hours.
7. Lusk Caves Trail
The elevation gain on this trail is low and brings you to the Lusk Caves, which were formed 11, 000 years ago. You could swim in the cave during the summer and it's more of a popular destination in the summer when the creek that runs through the cave isn't as cold. But, it's always worth a peak and you're bound to get some interesting photos.
Distance: 12 km.
Time: 5 hours.
8. Champlain Trail
This trail is at the most classic of Ottawa views: Champlain lookout. The trail itself is a short one and starts at the Eardley Escarpment. King Mountain Trail leads to this point, so you might as well combine the two trips into one.
Time: 30 minutes.
9. Sugar Bush Trail
This trail near Chelsea is perfect year-round and is popular more so as a winter trail. Nonetheless, this short, flat trek takes you into classic Gatineau wilderness. Plus, it's near beautiful Chelsea, which is worth a visit just on its own. The trail starts right beside the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre in the town.
Time: 45 minutes.
10. Hendrick Park Trail
An easy, short loop that starts at the famous red Wakefield Covered Bridge. The trail takes you up stone steps and along a creek and shouldn't take more than an hour. This one's a personal favourite if I'm walking my dog while I'm visiting Wakefield.
Time: 1 hour.