Before you hit Gatineau Park winter trails, get familiar with trail etiquette. The Park is a very popular destination — the second-most visited park in Canada — so all actions, even small ones, can have a snowball effect (pun intended).

With a little consideration and respect, all users can have fun and enjoy the trails.

Wear your pass in plain view

Season pass holder showing its pass to the camera

A daily or a season pass is required to access the cross-country ski, snowshoe and snow biking trails in Gatineau Park. Access to the winter walking and hiking trails is free.

Stay on the trails designated for your activity

In Gatineau Park, some trails are designated for only one type of activity, while others are shared. Use our interactive map to find trails that are suited to the activity of your choice.

Ski trails are for skiers only.

Walking on the ski trails is never allowed. Our team works very hard at setting and maintaining the tracks for skiing. Walking makes the surface uneven and hardens the trail base, creating conditions that can be dangerous for skiers.

Ski tracks damaged by footprints

The wide, middle section of a ski trail between the classic cross-country tracks — better known as the corduroy — is for skate skiing. It is not a walking trail.

If you are skate skiing, try to avoid the classic tracks.

At designated crossings, hikers, snowshoers and snow bikers may cross a cross-country ski trail, but they must yield to skiers, and avoid the classic tracks.

All snow biking trails are snowshoe trails, but not all snowshoe trails are snow biking trails.

About half of the snowshoe trails are shared with snow bikers. The other half are for snowshoers only.

Snow biker in the woods

To snow bikers: Do not use the trails if you have trouble steering in a straight line, or if snow conditions are such that you have to walk your bike up small, easy hills. This means that the snow is too soft and you are probably damaging the trail base. To protect the trails, it is also important that your bike tires are the proper width and inflated to the proper pressure, and that you avoid locking your rear wheel on downhill runs.

When a snowshoe or snow biking trail follows a ski trail, keep to the side of the trail to avoid damaging the tracks.

To hikers: Stay on hiking trails.

Gatineau Park has four winter walking and hiking trails.

With a season or daily pass, walking is permitted on snowshoe trails, but only when the surface is hard-packed. In soft snow, boots make holes that damage the trail, spoiling the experience and making the trail unsafe for other users when the snow hardens.

Be courteous and considerate

Remember: everyone out there is trying to have a good time, just like you.

Slower users must yield to faster users.

Keep to the right-hand side of the trail at all times. If you want to pass, clearly and politely communicate your plans to other users so that they have time to react. 

Know who has the right of way.

  • Skiers climbing uphill must yield to skiers coming downhill.
  • Snow bikers coming downhill must yield to those climbing uphill.
  • Control your speed when going downhill. Allow yourself time to react for whatever might arise.
  • Snow bikers must yield to snowshoers.

Get out of the way.

If you stop to take in the view or to rest, move out of the way so the trail is free for others. Avoid stopping directly at intersections: stop before or after.

Take care of your pet.

Pets are not allowed on cross-country ski, snowshoe and snow biking trails. They are allowed on the winter walking and hiking trails, but must be kept on a leash.

Remember to pick up after your pet, and take the bag with you. If your dog poops, you must scoop — even if no one is looking!

Leave no trace

Deer in winter

Gatineau Park is home to important ecosystems and habitats, including species at risk protected by law. To protect the Park for future generations, it is vital that all users play by the rules.

Follow these seven principles of outdoor ethics, and be as unobtrusive as possible, so that all users can enjoy a safe and pleasant experience.

It is your responsibility to know and follow the rules and guidelines pertaining to Gatineau Park, and to act prudently.

Check the web page for your activity to find out more about the ethics code, rules and other useful information for your outing.