Katie’s Top 5 picks for best ski trails in the Gatineau Park...
One of the main attractions of skiing in the Gatineau park is the around 27kms of groomed parkway it has to offer. Skiing the parkway “loop” is great, but for those of us that do it all summer on our roller skis and bikes, the wide gradual ups and downs can become rather uninspiring. Living and skiing in the Gatineau Park my whole life, I have had the opportunity of discovering tons of fantastic trails that are not only beautiful and thrilling but they also better simulate some of the courses we race on throughout the winter. Here, in no particular order are my top 5 picks for best ski trails in the Gatineau Park;
1. Burma (trail #3)Closest parking lot = p10.
Ski it from top to bottom or bottom to top, either way you will be treated to a roller coaster of enjoyment. Great for both classic and skate skiing, this around 5km trail rolls through frozen swamps and woods, giving the skier a sense of speed without exerting too much effort. Over before you know it, this intermediate level route will leave you wanting to ski back up and do it again.
Burma is the blue square number 3
2. Ridge road to the fire tower (trail #1).
Closest parking lot = p7 or p12
Ever wonder how far ridge road will take you? Well if you start at p7 and stay on it, 20 or so kilometres later, you will find yourself at the top of Luskville falls, at the old fire tower. This trail, good for both classic and skate, is quite the trek but totally worth it. Bring a lot of food and water, this “expedition” can be done as a day trip our just a very long ski. Depending on the conditions, the climbs on the way there can get pretty tough, but the feeling of accomplishment of completing the full 40km there and back ski can leave skiers extremely satisfied.
The corner on blue square trail #1 just after McKinstry cabin is the fire tower
3. Camp Fortune Race Trails.
Closest parking lot = chalet des erables (camp fortune), p7 or p10.
Looking for a challenge? Well these black diamond race trails are made for you! Recently used for races such as the Ontario Biathlon championships, these trails are one of the Park’s best kept secrets. With steep climbs and descents that will send your stomach into your throat, you’ll want to do several loops! Mostly just groomed for skate skiing, I recommend these trails to intermediate/expert skiers who want to work on their cornering, descent and cardio skills.
The red dashed trails around camp fortune are the xc race trails
4. P17 to Lac Philippe. (Trail #50)
Closest parking lot = p17.
This trail starts off with a huge climb; however once you get that over with the route continues pleasantly rolling all the way to Lac Philippe. I love this trail because it is one of the last places to lose its snow in the spring, making it the perfect place to ski in a t-shirt under the sun either in classic or skate. Once you make it to Lac Philippe, you actually get to ski right alongside the gorgeous frozen lake and through the camp ground, which I always find a little strange. It is a there and back route that will not bore you and offers the superb Heridge cabin about one third of the way through.
Trail 50 is the green trail that passes by Heridge and hugs the side of Lac Philippe
5. Trail 36.
Closest parking lot = p11.
A classic only trail, it is easily accessible as it commences right out of O’Brian beach parking lot. Fairly rolling with only a few steep climbs, the ski tracks will lead you around one side of Meech Lake and eventually connect with trail 50. Depending on how long you wish to go, you can connect this route with the above #4 or turn around ski back on what seems like a totally different, but equally fun trail.
Trail 36 is the blue square that is beside Lac Meech
With the smell of snow in the air, it is only a matter of time before we get out skiing on any one of these trails. I hope these suggestions will help fill your ski season with tons of exciting adventures, and lively memories.
Happy trails :)