For the Ottawa/Hull region, this would be considered a '10' for hiking options. Other than driving to Mt. Ste. Marie an hour North, or, 3 hours South to the 5,000 foot peaks near Lake Placid, the Gatineau Park just north of Ottawa has a few bottom-to-top hikes worth checking into. This is one of the best.
On this NCC (National Capital Commission) maintained hike along a set of waterfalls to the Firetower high up in the Gatineau park, you will experience large pine, rushing falls, wildlife, exposed rock, and grear views. You will also work hard!
At first, the hike is steep, you are taken close to the rushing "Chutes de Lusk" many times to view worn Canadian shield that tumbles water along various rock walls, and into deep pools. The water has worn the rock smooth over millions of years.
You will in fact find lots of rock, exposed in many places to give you great views, and opportunities to stop for lunch, or just laze in sun as you stare out onto the expansive Ottawa river. Our GPS told us the altitude gain was roughly 900 feet, but as you explore across each side of the falls, with the peak elevation being about 1,250 feet above sea level. Not bad, and the steepness of it definatley gives you a cardio push, it feels like a real mountain hike.
Once up top, you can explore the ridge line and rock, enjoying great views back on the Ottawa valley, or, continue along the well worn trail to the firetower. There are signs in place. Past the firetower, you can reach a nice cabin for lunch about 2 km away. All told, you will have hiked 9-10 km up and down if go to the cabin, whose approach is on a flat maintenance road, a nice break after your steep climb to the firetower. We saw beaver dams, woodpeckers, and, someone said they saw a bear, perhaps groggy from their winter nap. We didn't see mosquitoes or black flies, since it was just April 24! A perfect time to go.
This hike is a delight, if somewhat busy. Climbers and other intrepid hikers hike up the next "falls" over, past the NCC laneway where most people walk to the start of the Lusk falls hike.
Certainly you don't need the attached GPS waypoints, but you may find them useful to know you are approaching the trailhead on the highway, or, for practising GPS since the firetower, cabin, and various forks in the trail are marked.
Cross the river from Ottawa at Champlain bridge, or, from Hull, get on hwy #148 going West towards Luskville and Quyon, passing through the village of Aylmer. Before you get to the hamlet (village) of Lusk along 148 (closer to 15km from Aylmer), maybe a few hundred meters before the turnoff to Lusk, you'll see a sign on the right hand side of the road, a brown NCC sign indicating "Gatineau Park" access. It's a simple Cul de Sac laneway that also leads to the "Ranche Chutes" which has horse rides and a sign that says camping, $120 (we hope that includes horse rides for a couple of days - or perhaps the owners are tired of people asking to camp). All told about a half hour drive once you are on the Quebec side.
About 500m down that gravel NCC road, just before you reach 'le ranch', you'll see a gated laneway leading to the parking area for the hike.
Some go to the end of the Cul De Sac and take the path less travelled, straight past the cul de Sac where you will see another waterfalls and some rock scrambling to be had.
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Posted By: trailpeak
- Tue Oct 10 20:01:03 EDT 2006
Comment.. thanks Abigail, corrected the directions, and distance. A great hike if you extend by continuing on the fire road above or looking for ridge walks along the top.
Posted By: abigail
- Thu Jul 27 09:18:05 EDT 2006
UpsideThe trail has a very good mix of steep climbing (sometimes scrambling) and more leisurly walking although it is never flat!
DownsideIt isn't long enough!
CommentI loved this trail, although I thought it would take longer. Also it is important to note re: the directions that one must go EAST on highway 148, not West (as stated) and that it is more like 15 km from Aylmer than 10 ... don't give up, you will get there!