Time to get out your warm clothes and winter gear! The cross-country ski, snowshoe and snow biking season officially opens today in Gatineau Park, the Capital’s conservation park.
Gatineau Park boasts one of North America’s most beautiful—and largest—winter trail networks, located only 15 minutes from Parliament Hill. This impressive network includes over 200 kilometres of ski trails, 61 kilometres of snowshoe trails, 30.5 kilometres of snow biking trails (shared with snowshoers) and 10 kilometres of hiking trails, winding through the Park’s forests and along frozen lakes and valleys. The Park also has 11 day-use shelters.
Outdoor enthusiasts have access today to 39.7 kilometres of ski trails, 59.5 kilometres of snowshoeing trails, 29 kilometres of snow biking trails and 9.3 kilometres of hiking trails that are recommended. Check the Gatineau Park web page to find out which trails are recommended and from which starting points.
Cross-country ski, snowshoe and snow biking conditions are updated twice daily. Grooming is done by experts using five state-of-the-art grooming machines, and trails are patrolled daily by professional and volunteer patrollers.
Different trails for different activities
Some trails are designed for only one type of activity, while others are shared. Check the legend on the winter trail map, and choose the right trail. Users can also plan their outings using our interactive maps. Non-skiers are asked to stay off ski trails, except to cross them at the designated intersections. Our team works very hard at setting and maintaining the tracks for skiing. The NCC would like to remind users to stay on the designated trails and not to venture onto frozen water surfaces.
Pets are permitted on winter hiking trails only, and must be on leash. They are not permitted anywhere else, including in the shelters and cabins.
Access fees are charged for cross-country ski, snowshoe and snow biking trails. Purchase a daily pass, or save by buying a season pass. Be sure to wear your pass in plain view. Visit the web page for more details about winter passes.
Daily passes are available at trailhead parking lots (exact cash only), the Visitor Centre, and the Relais plein air, as well as at our partner locations. They are also available online. Users must select a date of visit when making the online transaction, then take a ticket at the trailhead upon their arrival. Because of intermittent cellphone reception in the Park, it is recommended that you purchase your pass before you arrive in the Park.
Those who have season passes at our partner outdoor centres, as well as guests staying at certain hotels in Ottawa–Gatineau, can also get a discount on the purchase of a daily pass.
Season passes can be purchased online and at the Visitor Centre. Season pass holders enjoy exclusive offers at more than 30 local retailers (sport shops, restaurants, accommodations, activities, events and ski centres) simply by showing your card.
Members of the following municipal libraries can borrow a daily pass for free, under certain terms and conditions:
- Ottawa Public Library
- Ville de Gatineau Municipal Library
- Réseau Biblio de l’Outaouais (in French only)
- Chelsea Library
- Cantley Library
- Carleton Place Public Library
Equipment rental and services
Rental equipment is also available for those who would like to get out and enjoy the trails. Snowshoes can be rented at the Visitor Centre, and the Relais plein air rents snowshoes, fat bikes and classic cross-country skis. The Relais plein air also offers a waxing room, café and free parking, and is accessible by public transit via the Société de transport de l’Outaouais bus service.
Winter enthusiasts can also add to their experience by spending the night in the Park in a ready-to-camp unit near the trails. Although many weekends are already booked, there are still availabilities on weekdays; rates are reduced for most weekday stays from Sunday to Thursday in a ready-to-camp unit. Water and baggage delivery service to the campsite is available.
For those who are more adventurous, there is winter camping at Philippe Lake.
Interpretation activities you won’t want to miss
Popular guided activities, such as “Animal Tracking on Snowshoes” and “Snowshoe Under the Stars” are offered from January to March. Come and find out how to identify animal tracks, and learn how animals survive in winter. Guided hikes are led by nature interpreters.
Each year, Gatineau Park hosts the Gatineau Loppet which, in 2020, will take place from February 14 to 16. The competition is part of the Worldloppet circuit, and hosts thousands of participants. This year is the 42nd edition of the Gatineau Loppet, which attests to the fact that the Park’s trail network is among the best in North America.
NCC Media Relations
613-239-5678 ext. 5709 (office)