On your marks, get set, ski … through the heart of town!

Published on February 11 2016

Cross-country skiers, have you ever skied in Gatineau? If not, I highly recommend making Gatineau the destination for your next outdoor excursion. Why, you ask? Because Gatineau is close to everything, including lots of outdoor fun! There aren’t many places where you can step into your skis as you leave a Hilton hotel, and set off to explore a 361 km2 natural playground right on the city’s doorstep. Gatineau is one of those places! On January 13, at the official launch of the winter tourist season in the Outaouais, Gatineau mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin proclaimed Gatineau “the capital of urban outdoor recreation in Quebec,” and rightly so. For her part, Outaouais Tourism general manager France Bélisle pointed out, “Here, the outdoors isn’t just close to the city, it’s right in the city!” That’s what makes Gatineau such a favourite with cross-country skiers. Here are a few places you can put on your cross-country skis and explore some spectacular landscapes. You’ll find it hard to believe you’re actually skiing in Quebec’s fourth largest city!

Direct Access to Gatineau Park

Carte Gatineau


rpa 2

Three parking lots with access to ski trails in Gatineau Park are located within Gatineau city limits: P1 (Asticou), P2 (Relais plein air, paid parking), and P3 (Gamelin).

From here, you can access, among others, trails 5, 26, 27 and 29, as well as the Gatineau Parkway, which is closed to vehicular traffic in winter and covered in snow for cross-country skiing. Did you know that the park’s beautiful parkways are among its most distinctive features? Classic and skate skiers are equally welcome on these shared trails, all rated “easy.”

Centre de plein air du Lac-Leamy

Located a few minutes from downtown, the Centre de plein air du Lac-Leamy (Leamy Lake Outdoor Centre) is a year-round haven for outdoor enthusiasts. From the centre’s trail network, you can access the Ottawa River with its spectacular views, the Casino du Lac-Leamy complex (including a five-star Hilton hotel) and Le Saint-Éloi restaurant. It’s an ideal way to combine outdoor exercise with some fine food and entertainment! So strap on your skis and set out along the Lac-Leamy Trail winding around the lake (2.5 km, easy); the Ruisseau-Leamy Trail leading to the Relais plein air du parc de la Gatineau (7.2 km, intermediate); the Voyageurs Trail, which follows the shore of the Ottawa River to Jacques-Cartier Park (5.9 km, easy); and the Ruisseau Trail in the heart of downtown Gatineau (7 km, easy).

Lac-Beauchamp Park

Lac Beauchamp

Lac-Beauchamp Park, a beautiful green (or white) space a few minutes east of downtown, is ideal for novice skiers: the trails aren’t too long and the slopes aren’t too steep! Discover the park along five trails with a total length of 10 km.

Equipment Rental

No skis? No problem: you can rent equipment at very reasonable rates at the Centre de plein air du Lac-Leamy and Lac-Beauchamp Park. That’s it, no more excuses: it’s time to go for a ski in Gatineau! Photo header credit: City of Gatineau

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