Pink Lake in the Fall, with bright orange and yellow leaves


Pink Lake is Gatineau Park’s most outstanding lake, because of its unusual makeup. Its rare beauty makes it one of the most popular sites in the Park. It has a three-season trail and a lookout.

Despite having the name “Pink,” the lake is actually green. It is named after the Pink family who settled the land in 1826.

Important

  • Pink Lake is very fragile, and it is important that visitors follow the principles of outdoor ethics.
  • Dogs and other pets are not allowed at Pink Lake.
  • Swimming is not permitted.
  • Boats and other watercraft are not permitted.

Visiting Pink Lake

Hours and how to get there

The most direct access is from the Pink Lake parking lot, accessible from the Gatineau Parkway.

  • In summer, the parkway is open to motor vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians according to a variable schedule.
  • In winter, the parkway becomes a cross-country ski trail, and is closed to motor vehicles.


How to get to Pink Lake when the parkway is closed to motor vehicles

Access to Pink Lake is also possible from parking lot P6 (Mackenzie King Estate), which requires more time and physical effort. To get to parking lot P6, take Kingsmere Road from Chelsea, turn left at Swamp Road, and then right at Barnes Road. The entrance is on the left.

Points of interest

Pink Lake Trail

The Pink Lake Trail is a 2.3-km loop around the lake, which has several sets of stairs and interpretation panels. It is closed during the winter.

Pink Lake Lookout

Pink Lake Lookout provides a unique view of the lake.

Facilities

  • Parking: There are two free parking lots, one at the lookout and one at the Pink Lake Trail.
  • Washrooms: There are outhouses at the parking lot for the Pink Lake Trail. 
  • Universal accessibility: Pink Lake Lookout is universally accessible, as is a small stretch of the Pink Lake Trail. One spot in each parking lot is designated for those who have an accessible parking permit.

About Pink Lake

A meromictic lake

Pink Lake is meromictic, meaning that its upper and lower layers of water never mix. Normally, a lake’s water layers mix completely each year during the spring and fall, because of water density, water and air temperature, and the wind. The mixing of lake waters distributes nutrients and oxygen evenly throughout the lake.

Pink Lake’s waters do not mix, because it has a small surface and bowl-like shape, and is surrounded by steep cliffs that protect it from the wind. There is no oxygen in the deepest seven metres of the lake.

Why is Pink Lake green?

The magnificent greenish tint to the waters of Pink Lake is caused by the growth of microscopic algae. Even though the algae are spectacularly beautiful, they are very harmful. This vegetation gradually takes over the oxygen, suffocating the lake. This natural process, called “eutrophication,” can take many thousands of years.

Unfortunately, Pink Lake’s popularity with Park visitors over the years sped up this process. The algae were growing so rapidly that eutrophication would have taken only a few decades. To preserve the lake for future generations, we have rehabilitated the site by building platforms and a trail to limit the damage caused by erosion. Volunteers also helped plant 10,000 small trees.

Life in Pink Lake

With no oxygen at the bottom of Pink Lake, there is only one organism that lives in its depths: a prehistoric anaerobic organism. It is a pink photosynthetic bacterium, which uses sulphur instead of oxygen to transform sunlight into energy.

Pink Lake is also home to the three-spined stickleback fish, a saltwater fish left behind from the Champlain Sea, which used to cover the region. This little saltwater fish adapted to the lake’s gradual desalination, and today lives in the lake’s fresh water.