I’ve noticed that sometimes in life we can drive ourselves crazy making elaborate plans for a brief escape from the daily grind. And yet the simplest ideas are often the best! That was certainly my experience two weeks ago, right here in the Outaouais, a mere 40 minutes from my house!


With a couple of friends and our respective babies, we booked a stay in a fantastic four-season tent at the Philippe Lake Campground in Gatineau Park. This was the first camping trip for three-month-old Charlie, the first time he and my son Thomas had slept in the same room (or tent!), and the first time any of us had tried this kind of camping. The verdict: Bliss with a capital B! Far from the house and our household tasks, with limited cell phone access, it was a great way to disconnect.


Ready-to-camp units

What’s great about this kind of setup is that most of the equipment is supplied, so you can travel fairly light. Our tent was equipped with mattresses, tables, chairs, kitchenware, a BBQ and a refrigerator; we brought our own sleeping bags, pillows, food and personal items.

When we opened the door of our tent, we were amazed at how big it was. It didn’t look like much from the outside, but it was really spacious inside. There was plenty of room for us to unload all our bags, plus the children’s play yards, without tripping over each other.




Another pleasant surprise was the adult-size beds. No prizes for guessing who snagged the highest one (I did!).

A few minutes after we got there, the guys lifted the bikes off the car and took off to explore the park’s mountain biking trails. Our plan for the next day was to visit nearby Lusk Cave, but unfortunately we were rained out.


Local beaches

We were officially on holiday time, so we delayed supper and made a late-afternoon visit to Smith Beach, reserved for campers at Philippe Lake. It’s a nice little beach, nothing fancy, just right, and within walking distance of our campsite. The water was clear and the perfect temperature. Even Thomas and Charlie went for a dip in the lake!

Photo credit: NCC
Photo credit: NCC

If it hadn’t rained the next morning, we would have packed a picnic and spent a pleasant day at Parent Beach. Here you can rent various non-motorized watercraft, including canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.

13082015-DSC_1599_SUP LR
Photo credit: NCC

The recipe for bliss

After our getaway, I can vouch for the fact that one of the Outaouais’ many recipes for bliss can be found in Gatineau Park! Loving families, happy friends, a clean, quiet campground, a fine supper of BBQ steak, sausages roasting over a bonfire, a bag of chips and a nice cold beer, two babies sleeping through the night, and breakfast of bacon and eggs on the BBQ—who could ask for more? We all had such a good time we wanted to stay an extra day!


For more information about Gatineau Park and its many features and activities, click here.



Family vacations and activities, Outdoor sports, Summer activities

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