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That's an Excellent Question: Where to ski at night in Ottawa-Gatineau
By:  Craig Storey   (2007/01/23)

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I've recently moved here and am wondering where are the good places to classical ski at night? There doesn't seem to be any lit trails aside from one at Mooney's Bay. Any advice would be helpful.

Thank you,
R. H.

Mooney's Bay is pretty good for night skiing, but it can get icy sometimes and really cold due to windchill other times since since the skiing there is so exposed.

Nakkertok which is in Cantley, and is the same distance as P10 from downtown, has 5km of lit trails. There's more terrain change and variation than on the parkway so for a short night ski it's a great option. Skiing there is reserved for members, but membership isn't expensive.

By far the most popular destination for a moonlight ski is none other than Gatineau Park! You can classic or skate in a large part of the park at night. It's best on nights were it's snowing, because then the reflected light from the city really makes it brightest. The moon does a great job of lighting up the trails when it's out at full strength and generally there is enough moonlight or reflected light from the city for good visibility. A head lamp is sometimes needed on those moonless or cloudless nights. A headlamp, ~$25 at MEC for an LED version, is always a good idea for when you need to find your keys or apply some wax to your skis. They also help you see oncoming skiers. One tip on how to avoid being yelled at - Don't shine your light in the eyes of oncoming skiers!

Burma, Ridge Road and other smaller trails are sometimes an option on nights were there's low clouds or snow. But they aren't always so inviting at night if you are unfamiliar with the terrain. Even with a headlamp, a 90 turn or bump isn't always obvious quickly enough at night when I find your senses are a bit dulled. It's for that reason that night skiers tend to stick to the wide open parkways. These can be a bit cold and windy, so bundle up a bit more than usual.

To combat the cold and hunger of a night ski many people stop into one of cabins the park has to offer (Keogan, Shilly Shally, Western or Huron) and stay for supper or drinks that they carry in before skiing out later in the night. I highly recommend this for a cheap romantic evening getaway.

The Gatineau Parkway (near P1) at Dusk.  Photo: Jo-Ann Holden
The Gatineau Parkway (near P1) at Dusk. Photo: Jo-Ann Holden

Clear sky at night skiing in Gatineau Park.  Photo: Jo-Ann Holden
Clear sky night skiing in Gatineau Park. Photo: Jo-Ann Holden

Comments...

Great article on night skiing. Hope it doesn't mean I'll have to fight for a parking spot when I go up in the evenings from now on. Thought I would send a couple of pictures you could append to the article to help illustrate the ambient light that we get from the city. One bonus from the poor ski season we've had is its allowed me to take some time and work on some long exposure photos. I think they nicely capture the orange glow that fills the park when skiing at night. The first is at Wattsford lookout after the first big dump of snow we had (was it only 10 days ago!) and the second is on the Champlain parkway just below the T with Fortune lake. - Ken

Ottawa as seen at night from the Wattsford Lookout in Gatineau Park.  Photo: Ken TrischukOttawa as seen at night from the Wattsford Lookout in Gatineau Park. Photo: Ken Trischuk

Fortune Parkway on an overcast night has lots of reflected light!  Photo: Ken TrischukFortune Parkway on an overcast night has lots of reflected light! Photo: Ken Trischuk
 
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