13 Best Gatineau Park Hiking Trails for Summer

Gatineau Park is home to some of the best hiking trails in the Ottawa area.

While it’s actually located in the Outaouais region of Quebec, Gatineau Park is just a short drive from downtown Ottawa.

With over 100km of trails to explore, ranging from easy to challenging, it can be hard to decide which ones to hike.

Whether you’re an avid hiker or you’re looking for an easy hike to take in the scenery, there’s a trail in Gatineau Park for you. If you want an easy, but scenic hike, Pink Lake Trail is a great choice. But if you want a more challenging trail, choose Wolf Trail.

Here are 13 of the best Gatineau Park hiking trails to explore this summer.

Hiking Gatineau Park Tips

Park Passes: At Gatineau Park, the hiking and walking trails are free at all times so there is no need for a park pass, but there is a fee to park at some parking lots.

Parking: There are many parking lots in Gatineau Park, and they can get busy on weekends during the summer. There is a fee per vehicle to park at some of the parking lots from June to September, which is noted below in the hike description. Fees range from $10-13 per day, and can be paid at the toll booths or exit gates. Note that only credit cards are accepted at the exit gates.

Washrooms: Washrooms are available at each of the picnic areas, as well as the designated parking lots in Gatineau Park. (There are no washroom facilities at the Yellow Box Trail, Tomato Hill trail, Grandview Loop or Huron Trail.)

Water: The visitor centre at the entrance to Gatineau Park has a fountain where you can refill water bottles.

Leave Only Footprints: Please help keep Gatineau Park clean by packing out your garbage unless you see designated garbage cans. Help protect the park and ecosystems by staying on the marked trails.

Camping: It’s possible to camp at Gatineau Park in the summer, and both private campsites or group sites are available. You can bring your own equipment or rent equipment there. Reservations are recommended. Camping is open from mid-May to mid-October.

Dog Policies: Many of the trails in Gatineau Park do not permit dogs, in order to protect the unique and delicate ecosystems. But there are trails that are dog-friendly. These are listed below.

What to Pack

Snacks – Snacks are important! You need to stay fuelled while hiking, and these bars are a great, healthy way to keep your energy up!

Hiking Boots – Hiking boots are a must! Some of the trails have uneven ground and hiking boots will be helpful! 

Bug Spray – Bug spray is a necessity in Canadian forests, especially with the water around the trails in Gatineau Park.

Sunscreen – When you’re hiking Gatineau Park for a few hours, sunscreen is important. This brand is a good eco-friendly option that’s natural and works well.

Water Bottle – It’s always a good idea to have a reusable water bottle! One like this is great to pack, as it holds enough water to last you all day.

Towel –  Some of the trails in Gatineau Park pass by a lake or beach where you can cool off, so it’s a good idea to bring a towel.

13 Best Gatineau Park Hiking Trails

1. Mackenzie King Estate Trail

Distance: 3.9km

Difficulty: Easy

Note: Parking is found at P6 but the trail can also be accessed from the Lauriault parking lot or the Waterfall Trail parking lot. There is a fee of $13 per vehicle to park during the summer season, from mid-May to mid-September. Parking is free on Tuesdays.

Washrooms are located at the trailhead.

The Mackenzie King Estate was the summer home of Canada’s longest serving Prime Minister and is now managed by the National Capital Commission.

Throughout the estate, you’ll find historical ruins, gorgeous gardens as well as several hiking trails. The hiking opportunities on the estate range from short, easy trails to longer, more challenging trails.

The former prime minister enjoyed walking throughout his estate and his favourite trail is what is now known as the Lauriault Trail.

The Lauriault trail can be combined with the Waterfall trail to make a 3.9km loop. It’s a well-maintained and popular trail, which has a lookout and passes by Bridal Veil Falls.

2. Pink Lake

Distance: 2.5km

Time: 60 mins

Difficulty: Moderate

Note: The Pink Lake parking lot at the trailhead follows the Gatineau Park Parkway schedule, and is not accessible when the Gatineau Parkway is reserved for inline skating, cycling and walking.

In the summer months, access to the parking lot is only available Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays after 1pm.

Parking is also available at the Gatineau Visitor Centre or Mackenzie King but parking there will add a bit to your hike.

Washrooms are located at the trailhead.

Pink Lake is one of the most popular Gatineau Park trails. It’s a relatively short hike, although there are stairs in a few areas.  While it’s an easy hike, the highlight of the trail is the beautiful turquoise colour of the lake that the trail circles around.

Named after the Pink family who settled there in the 1800’s, the lake is actually not pink, but a deep green colour, due to the algae growing in it. It’s one of the few meromictic lakes in the world, which is a lake where the layers of water do not mix. This creates an abundance of algae, which turns the water a unique shade of green in the summer months.

The trail loops around Pink Lake, with plenty of lookouts and info panels along the way that tell you more about its unique ecosystem.

3. Wolf Trail

Distance: 8.3km

Time: 2.5 – 3 hours

Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

Note: Wolf Trail begins at Blanchet Beach, at P13 parking lot. There is a fee of $13 per vehicle to park during the summer season, from mid-June until Labour Day.

Washrooms are located at the trailhead.

Wolf Trail is a challenging trail but one that’s worth it. It’s a popular trail and well-marked, but one that you will definitely want to have bug spray for.

The beginning of the trail has a steep 220 metre climb, but the reward is a great view of the Ottawa Valley from the Tawadina Lookout at the top.

It’s also a great spot to watch the sunset. 

You’ll pass through forest areas on the way and there’s a beautiful lake at the top of the mountain with a picnic area. Dogs are permitted on the trail but not at the picnic area.

Stop for a rest and admire the view.

Then it’s an easy downhill hike back to the parking lot.

This is one of the more popular trails in Gatineau Park, so the parking lots may be crowded, especially on weekends.

4. Champlain Trail and Champlain Lookout

Distance: 1.1 km

Time: 30 – 45 mins

Difficulty: Moderate

Note: The trail begins at the Champlain Lookout parking lot. There is no fee at this parking lot, however the Champlain Lookout parking lot follows the Gatineau Park Parkway schedule, and is not accessible when the Gatineau Parkway is reserved for inline skating, cycling and walking.

In the summer months, access to the parking lot is only available Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays after 1pm.

Washrooms are located at the trailhead.

The Champlain Trail is a popular hike along the top of the Eardley Escarpment.

It’s a well-marked and fairly flat trail, where you’ll learn about the unique plants that grow along the escarpment.

There are plenty of places to stop along the way and admire the view but the Champlain Lookout is one of the best lookouts in Gatineau Park. It’s also a great spot to watch the sunset.

5. King Mountain Trail

Distance: 1.8km

Time: 1 hour

Difficulty: Difficult

Note: This trail starts at the King Mountain parking lot. There is no fee at this parking lot, however the King Mountain parking lot follows the Gatineau Park Parkway schedule, and is not accessible when the Gatineau Parkway is reserved for inline skating, cycling and walking.

In the summer months, access to the parking lot is only available Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays after 1pm.

Washrooms are located at the trailhead.

King Mountain is one of the most scenic Gatineau Park hiking trails. There are 10 lookouts along the trail with stunning views of the region, including views of Gatineau and Ottawa.

At 344 metres, King Mountain is the highest point on the Eardley Escarpment and in Gatineau Park. This means there’s a bit of a climb involved on the trail but once you’re at the top, you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view of the Ottawa River Valley.

It may be a short trail, but it’s a challenging one.

6. Carbide Willson Ruins and Meech Lake

Distance: 3km / 4km

Time: 2 hours

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Note: This trail begins at P11, but you can also park at P9 if the parking lot is full. There is a fee of $13 per vehicle to park at P11 during the summer months. Parking fees are in effect from mid-June until Labour Day. 

Washrooms are located at the trailhead.

This is a nice, short trail that is part of the Great Trail, which stretches from the coast of Canada to the West. The trail is well-marked and maintained, and is one of the best Gatineau Park trails. 

Passing through thick deciduous forest sections and by a pretty lake, the trail leads to the Carbide ruins, which was a fertilizer plant that was built in 1911.

The ruins have not been preserved, but you can see the remains of the former fertilizer plant, with its windows still visible, as well as the foundations of a tower that was destroyed by fire.

It’s not permitted to climb on the ruins but it is a great spot for photos. Beside the ruins of the plant, there’s also a small waterfall, which adds to the beauty of the spot.

As you hike back, there are quite a few spots along the trail to stop for a break, have a picnic lunch, or simply relax in nature.

7. Luskville Falls Trail

Distance: 4.2 km

Time: 2 – 2.5 hours

Difficulty: Difficult

Note: The trail begins at Luskville Falls Parking lot. This parking lot is open daily and there is no fee to park.

Washrooms are located at the trailhead.

The Luskville Falls Trail is considered to be one of the best Gatineau Park hiking trails, both for the challenge of the hike and the views you’ll see along the way.

There’s a steep 290m climb up the Eardley Escarpment, but at the top you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic view of the Ottawa River Valley. 

There’s a fire tower at the top as well, but the views are much better from the trail, especially on the descent.

Take the descent slow and easy and it’s best to do this trail counterclockwise, as the descent will be a bit easier.

Along the trail, you’ll pass by a few waterfalls, as the name of the trail suggests, but the falls are best viewed in the spring or after a few rainy days.

8. Skyline Trail

Distance: 5.3km

Time: 2 hours

Difficulty: Difficult

Note: Begins at P7 parking lot. As a popular trail, parking can be hard to find during the day. Washrooms are located at the trailhead.

The Skyline Trail is one of the original Gatineau Park hiking trails. It runs along the eastern edge of the Gatineau hills, which makes it a great trail if you’re looking for a sunrise hike. 

Beginning on gravel, the trail is wide and well groomed, but it does become a bit rocky and there are forested sections as well, which can be a bit muddy. 

The loop section of the trail is quite hilly with an elevation gain of 100m, but there are plenty of lookout spots to stop for a rest.

While not as scenic as some of the other trails in Gatineau Park, there are several lookouts with views out over the Outaouais. Two of these viewpoints are marked, and well-signed, but there are a few other spots you’ll pass with great views as well.

9. Lusk Cave Trail

Distance: 8.5km

Time:  4.5 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Note: The trail starts at P20 Parking Lot, and there is a fee to park during the summer months.

The Lusk Cave Trail is a relatively easy hike that follows the shores of Philippe Lake and Lusk Lake, before reaching the Lusk Cave system. This is the highlight of the hike, as you can explore inside the cave system.

There is often water in the cave, sometimes just a stream of water, but towards the last part of the cave, the water can be as high as one meter.

To safely explore the cave, you’ll need an extra pair of shoes – sandals are not recommended – a bathing suit, and a helmet if possible.

You can also complete this hike without exploring inside the caves. The trail along the lake is often busy but the rest of the trail is less popular and quieter. 

10. Yellow Box Trail

Distance: 15km

Time: 6-7hours

Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

Note: As this is not an official trail in Gatineau Park, there is no designated parking, however there is parking available on Chemin Eardley-Masham.

Washrooms are not available at this trailhead. 

The Yellow Box Trail isn’t an official trail in Gatineau Park (yet!), but it has some of the best views in the entire park.

Be aware, as it’s not an official trail, it isn’t maintained or marked as other trails in the park are.

The Yellow Box Trail is actually two loops, and at the midpoint of the hike, you’ll find the yellow box with a hikers log that the trail is named for. Stop to fill in the log or leave a message, before continuing on to hike the next loop.

This trail is rated moderate to difficult, as there are some steep climbs up the Eardley Escarpment. You will pass through forested sections with some beautiful lookouts along the escarpment.

While you can hike the trail in either direction, going counterclockwise is best for the climbs.

11. Tomato Hill via Eardley Escarpment

Distance: 8.2km

Time: 2 – 2.5 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Note: As this is not an official trail in Gatineau Park, there is no designated parking, however there is parking available on Chemin Eardley-Masham.

Washrooms are not available at this trailhead.

This is a great trail along the Eardley Escarpment that’s not too difficult, but still offers some great views of the area.

The trail actually passes by Tomato Hill, but you can take a short 200 meter side trail that climbs to the top of the hill. While there’s a good view from the top, if you would rather stay on the trail, there are still plenty of lookouts along the way where you’ll have fantastic views of the Outaouais River and surrounding area. 

12. Grandview Loop

Distance: 6.3km

Time: 2 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Note: As this is not an official trail in Gatineau Park, there is no designated parking, however there is parking available on Chemin Eardley-Masham.

Washrooms are not available at this trailhead. 

Grandview Loop is actually the first loop of the Yellow Box Trail. Details on that hike can be found above, however the Grandview Loop is worth mentioning separately, as it’s a good hike in its own right.

The Grandview Loop is a short hike but one with incredible views. It’s a great hike to do in the evening for an excellent sunset view.

13. Huron Trail and Étienne Brûlé Lookout

Distance: 9km (out and back)

Time: 4 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Note: Parking isn’t in a designated lot, but on a wide shoulder off Promenade du Lac-Fortune. Park near the Lac Fortune sign. The trailhead is about 300 metres up the road.

Washrooms are not available at this trailhead.

The Huron Trail is a scenic hike through the forest, which is shaded and cool in the summer. There are a few hills on the trail but it’s not too challenging of a hike.

The trail passes several small ponds, where there is a bench to rest, before reaching the Étienne Brûlé Lookout.

Here you’ll have a stunning view out over the escarpment, where you can see the Ottawa River as well as Promenade Champlain below.

The lookout is a popular picnic spot in the summer. There are plenty of picnic tables and a large grassy area, which makes for a good rest stop while admiring the view before heading back down the trail the way you came.

Gatineau Park Dog Trails

The following trails are dog-friendly, although dogs must be leashed:

  • Mackenzie King Estate
  • Lusk Cave
  • Wolf Trail
  • Carbide Willson Ruins
  • Huron Trail
  • Skyline Trail
  • Champlain Trail
  • Carbide Willson Ruins
  • Yellow Box Trail
  • Tomato Hill
  • Huron Trail

Conclusion: Best Gatineau Park Trails for Summer Hiking

There are plenty of great hiking trails in Gatineau Park, whether you’re looking for an easy hike or something a bit more challenging.

Pink Lake is a popular, short hike that’s not too difficult. Wolf Trail is a good option for those looking for a more challenging hike.

If you’re looking for an easy hike with unique sights along the way, the Carbide Willson Ruins is be a great trail to hike. 

So lace up your boots and get ready to explore some of the best views that Gatineau Park has to offer!

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