Only 15 minutes from downtown Ottawa–Gatineau there is a sprawling natural playground that is a retreat for those living in the capital region. Gatineau Park boasts over 100 miles of hiking trails, 50+ miles of mountain biking routes, multiple lakes for swimming and kayaking, and much history. The many trails are diverse and have plenty of family friendly options – short easy hikes with great pay offs!
+Pink Lake Trail
This very popular 1.5 mile hike loops around a meromictic lake – that means that the top and bottom layers of the water do not mix and in the deepest portion there is no oxygen.
Walking the trail you will notice the water looks green in some areas and it’s not just the reflection from the trees.
It is positively mesmerizing green water, due to microscopic algae.
Don’t miss the short spur to see and read about the mica mine,
and watch out for beautiful spiders and all wildlife along the trail.
A two mile loop filled with interesting elements, it was a favorite of former Prime Minister – basically his back yard and he even helped develop the trail! From the parking lot head uphill and almost immediately you are blasted with an incredible view.
Take the detour to see the falls, they are small, but sweet.
Another fun side trip is visiting the Mackenzie King Estate to admire the summer home of the tenth Prime Minister of Canada.
Although the home is not open, the grounds are lovely. Don’t miss the Arc de Triomphe, actually from a bank building in the city that was demolished in 1936.
King was fascinated with classical architecture. Keep a keen out for turtles crossing the road.
When you reach Mulvihill Lake and see the parking lot, you must cross the street to return to the trailhead.
+King Mountain Trail
From the lovely picnic area head down towards a lake to journey the one mile loop around the highest peak in park.
It isn’t a difficult climb and the trail is very well maintained.
Once you leave the woods, the views just keep coming.
Vista after vista, from downtown Ottawa to the rural Valley – this is a truly spectacular trail.
There are many informational plaques along the way, and a monument to commemorate the first geodetic survey of Canada.
Simply enjoy the magnificent vista right from the parking lot,
or hop on the mile long loop and breath the fresh air of the woods. Along the way look for the rare juniper hairstreak butterfly – who prefer eastern red cedars. There is a view point along the trail, it is not very different from the one in the parking lot – looking over the Ottawa Valley, but it is a bit more calming away from the asphalt and hoards.