The Responsible Trail Management project aims to reduce the environmental impact of unofficial trails, and at the same time enhance Gatineau Park’s recreational offering.
Gatineau Park offers some 200 km of official trails for recreational activities. There is also a network of unofficial trails that is larger than the official network, and continues to expand. Unofficial trails have a major environmental impact: they fragment habitats, and reduce their number and quality, and, in this way, they threaten species at risk. They also present a risk to public safety.
At the NCC, we take responsible trail management seriously, and we need your help to succeed. You can help by using only the network of official trails, and obeying all signage.
Recent news on the project
Phases 1 and 2 of the project are completed. The NCC has now integrated over 30 km of trails, which are now part of the official network.
The project would not have been possible without the valued support of volunteers, who have contributed 3,380 hours of their time since 2018. The NCC is seeking volunteers to carry out Phase 3, which will begin in spring 2021.
About the project
The Responsible Trail Management project aims to integrate close to 100 km of unofficial trails into the network of Gatineau Park’s official trails. It will also naturalize almost 200 km of unofficial trails, which will no longer be accessible.
Volunteers are helping to make this project happen.
Before the selected unofficial trails can be integrated into the official trail network, rehabilitation and maintenance work will be done. Once they become part of the official network, these trails will offer a different experience from what exists in the Park’s current trail network.
- Narrower trails with several types of technical challenges, varied terrain and an off-the-beaten-path type of experience
- Trails forming interesting loops, and with different trail options linking to various parts of the Park
Restoring a trail means allowing nature to take over. It’s a process that takes place naturally when a trail is no longer used, but it takes time. Camouflaging trail entrances and planting trees accelerate the process, but these methods are effective only if people comply with the trail closures.
Process and timeline
From 2014 to 2017, the NCC consulted the public, and undertook environmental and recreational assessments. Comments were received, and then analyzed by staff, which then led to recommendations for the Responsible Trail Management project.
This four-phase project has been ongoing since 2018, and is expected to be completed in 2022.
Phase 1 (completed)
- Integration of 14.43 km of trails in the Gatineau and Chelsea sectors
- Result: Trails 41, 42, 43, 66, 67, 68, 76, 77, 79 and 80 are now official
Phase 2 (completed)
- Integration of 16.5 km of trails in the Wakefield sector
- Result: Trails 53B, 58, 59 and 72B are now official
Phase 3 (ongoing: fall 2020 / spring 2022)
- Integration of 25.1 km of trails in the Old Chelsea and Meech Creek Valley sectors
- Update: Work will resume in spring 2021
Phase 4 (upcoming: spring 2022 / fall 2022)
- Integration of 58.3 km of trails in the Eardley Escarpment sector
The project’s interactive map provides an overview of the trails that will become part of the official network under the project, as well as a view of each phase.
From 2014 to 2017, the NCC broadly consulted with Park users and major stakeholders. These consultations were aimed at finding satisfactory common ground from both a recreational and a conservation perspective.
Biologists studied the unofficial trails and walked along them to be able to assess the environmental impact of a potential change in use. The assessment of the trails also considered the recreational perspective: type of use, frequency and connectivity with the rest of the network.
Then, for integration into the official network, the NCC selected the trails with the least environmental impact and the best recreational potential. The other trails will be restored to their natural state.
- Responsible Trail Management Project (468.04 KB)
- Conservation Status of Gatineau Park (3.07 MB)
- Responsible Trail Management - Consultation Report April 16 2015 (202.33 KB)
- Responsible Trail Management - Consultation Report March 8 2017 (343.78 KB)
- Responsible Trail Management - Consultation Report April 27 2017 (1.08 MB)
- Responsible Trail Management - Public Consultation April 27 2017 (5.87 MB)