With family over from outside of Ottawa, we decided to do a snowshoe walk in Gatineau Park. This year we went a bit further north after having walked to Healey hut last year. It is a bit of a drive but we wanted to do trail #74 which starts in the northern end of Gatineau Park past Wakefield at P19.
Snow squalls along the way
The weather wasn’t cooperative and somehow I had missed the snowfall warning. We set out in a bit of sun though, which was nice, but by the time we were following the lake on the #73, we were walking in some serious snowsqualls as you can see in the pictures below.
The first stretch of Trail #74 is about 3 km long and drops you near Lac Renaud. It is a nice and easy hike through stands of tall white pine (I think, I ain’t no tree expert) and a lost looking cedar here and there. Once at the Renaud hut, you can continue on the #75 towards Taylor Lake, but since we usually ski along Taylor Lake, we skipped that stretch.
We love Renaud hut with its south west exposed large windows. And wouldn’t you know, we bumped into @MrOneWheelDrive (aka @WastefreeJP) who was skiing the 24 km loop from Wakefield. We also saw Steve Fisher (“CBC Neeeeeeews, Ottawa”) at the hut; he retired last year and now runs a successful BnB.
Snowshoeing the #73
From the hut we backtracked a bit to a T-intersection where the #74 turns east towards Lac Philippe. The trail crosses a campsite and ends after about 700 meter at the entrance of the camp site. At Lac Philippe we connected with the #73 trail which runs around Lac Philippe, but we turned north towards P19 again following the shore line of Lac Philippe, a 2 kilometer stretch which I suspect runs over the lake surface here and there. The snowshoes proved particularly useful in this stretch.
Fork in the road
At some point we arrived at a fork in the road. On the left there was a somewhat homemade looking sign saying “P19”. This is the shortcut back to the (closed for cars in winter) parkway and back to the parking lot.
In hindsight we should have taken the right leg, which follows the lake a wee longer and leads to an intersection. Turn left and this gets you back to the parking lot too. Our total distance was exactly 6 km, with a moving time of 1:45. Our average was 17 minutes to cover a kilometer. Snowshoeing is a pretty slow but pleasant activity.
Cafe Les Saisons
On the way back to Ottawa or Gatineau, stop in Old Chelsea for coffee or hot chocolate at Cafe Les Saisons on Chemin Old Chelsea and Chemin Padden.
You can rent snowshoes at the Gatineau Park info centre: $9/hr for adults ($28 for a day) and $7/hr for kids ($19 for a day). You also have to buy access to the park. The passes can be bought for a day. There are 8 different pricing options, but you likely pay $10 for a day pass; seniors, youth and students pay $7, children free and there is family and group pricing). Look for the snowshoe rental here and for the passes here. (The passes overview is confusing as the header of he first table is not correct, I think. I notified the NCC). For some more impressions of Gatineau Park look here (Mapillary) and here for a fall hike in the park.