In the trees, Gatineau Park. Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen via the OttawaStart Flickr Pool.
Grab your boots and coats, winter is here! With the recent snowfall, the cross-country ski, snowshoe and snow biking season is officially open in Gatineau Park, the Capital’s conservation park. Outdoor enthusiasts have access to 47.9 kilometres of ski trails, 19.3 kilometres of snowshoe trails, 12.3 kilometres of snow biking trails and 1.9 kilometres of hiking trails. Please visit the Gatineau Park web page for recommended trails and starting points.
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, 60 kilometres of snowshoe trails, 29.5 kilometres of snow biking trails (shared with snowshoeing) and 10 kilometres of hiking trails, winding through the Park’s forests and along frozen lakes and river valleys. In addition, the network includes 10 day-use shelters. The Park also offers 30 kilometres of beautiful scenery for skiers on the parkways.
Cross-country ski, snowshoe and snow biking conditions are updated twice daily during the season on the Park’s web page. Primary trails are groomed at least four times a week, with six state-of-the-art grooming machines in operation during the season. Trails are patrolled by professional and volunteer patrollers.
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.
Plan your ski outing with one of the five recommended ski routes on our interactive map.
Different Trails for Different Activities
Some trails are designated for only one type of activity, while others are shared. Check the legend, and choose the right trail. Be sure to wear your pass in plain view.
Trail Access Passes
Daily passes are available at trailhead parking lots (exact cash only) and in person at the Visitor Centre. NEW this year: daily passes are also available for purchase 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.
Season passes are available online and in person at the Visitor Centre. Select local retailers and ski shops are currently offering the presale rate to their clientele for a limited time. See website for details.
Season pass holders also enjoy exclusive offers at more than 20 partner locations, retailers, ski centres and events, including the Gatineau Loppet, just by showing their pass.
Gatineau Park season pass holders receive a 50 percent discount on a daily pass at 12 ski centres: Craftsbury, Hardwood Ski, Mont Sainte-Anne, Mt. Van Hoevenberg and Sépaq ski centres (Camp Mercier, Duchesnay, Monts-Valin, Mont-Mégantic, Mont-Orford, Mont-Saint-Bruno, Mont-Tremblant and Oka). Simply show your season pass at the ticket office. Season pass holders from those ski centres also receive a 50 percent discount on a Gatineau Park daily pass.
Due to circumstances beyond our control, there are currently delays in the mail delivery service of the Winter Season Pass. In the meantime, please carry proof of purchase when using Gatineau Park Trails.
Borrow a pass from the library
With a municipal library card, users can borrow a daily pass from the following municipal libraries:
- Ottawa Public Library
- Ville de Gatineau Municipal Library
- Réseau Biblio de l’Outaouais (in French only)
- Chelsea Library
- Cantley Library
- Carleton Place Public Library
Snowshoes are available for rent at the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre:
- Monday to Friday, 9 am to 2:30 pm (last rental); must be returned by 3:30 pm.
- Saturday and Sunday, 9 am to 3:30 pm (last rental); must be returned by 4:30 pm.
Winter enthusiasts can also add to their experience by spending the night in the Park, which offers four cabins, four yurts and four 4-season tents. Although many weekends are booked, there are still availabilities on weekdays; rates are reduced on most weekday stays. For those who are more adventurous, there is winter camping at Philippe Lake. Water and baggage delivery service to the campsite is available.
Winter hours (November 2 to April 30)
- Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4 pm
- Saturday and Sunday, 9 am to 5 pm
- Closed December 25.
- Extended hours from December 26, 2018, to January 4, 2019, 9 am to 5 pm
- Other winter activities in the Park include hiking, overnight stays in ready-to-camp units and, for the more adventurous outdoor enthusiasts, winter camping.
- The grounds of the Mackenzie King Estate remain open all winter.
- Gatineau Park has one of the largest networks of winter trails in North America—located just minutes from downtown Ottawa and Gatineau. You can purchase a daily pass, or save with a season pass. Gatineau Park season pass holders also enjoy exclusive benefits at more than 20 partner locations and retailers.
- Popular guided snowshoe activities, such as “Animal Tracking” and “Snowshoe Under the Stars,” will be back from January to March. The schedule will be posted online.