Gatineau Snow Shoe Trail #74

Snowshoes at Renaud hut
Snowshoes at Renaud hut

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.

Lac Renaud

These might be some victims of the storm of September 2018
These might be some victims of the storm of September 2018
You will cross several ski trails. Be mindful of the tracks.
You will cross several ski trails. Be mindful of the tracks and the skiers
There is an abundance of snow in the park and currently in perfect condition
There is an abundance of snow in the park and currently in perfect condition

Some blue sky breaking through the dreary cloud cover
Some blue sky breaking through the dreary cloud cover

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.

Our happy family
Our happy family
Although the snow was packed, walking with snow shoes is still not a bad idea because of the crampons underneath the snow shoes.
Although the snow was packed, walking with snowshoes is still not a bad idea. The crampons underneath give you a much better grip
Renaud hut
Renaud hut seats about 50 people
Wood stove meets solar power at Renaud hut. the power is used for the emergency phone. It is still good to remember the trail numbers at all times though.
Wood stove meets solar power at Renaud hut. The power is used for the emergency phone. It is still good to remember the trail numbers at all times though

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

The camp site tables are tilted in winter, often resting on the BBQ at one end. I assume for melt water run off.
The Lac Philippe campsite tables are tilted in winter, often resting on a BBQ at one end. I assume for melt water run off

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.

Lac Philippe before the snow set in
Lac Philippe before the snow started

Fork in the road

Lac Philippe after it started snowing again. I am not sure if we were walking on the beach or the frozen lake
Lac Philippe after it started snowing again. I am not sure if we were walking on the beach or the frozen lake

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.

The snow was pretty serious at some point. I don't even know how those sleigh type chariots are called
The snow was pretty serious at some point. I don’t even know how those sleigh type chariots are called but you see them fairly regularly on this parkway

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.

Snowshoe rental

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.

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