September 2007: Gatineau Park


Hull, Quebec

MacKenzie King, longest governing Prime Minister in Canada, first visited the Gatineau Hills in 1900 and bought a small piece of land on Kingsmere Lake. Here he would entertain guests such as Winston Churchill and Charles Lindbergh, showing off antiquities he placed in his magnificent gardens. King left the property to Canada after his death in 1950 and it spurred
additional acquisitions that built the park to more than 200 square miles.

Much of the more than 100 miles of canine hiking is easily reached in the point of this giant wedge of a park near Ottawa. A good place to start is the MacKenzie King Estate where bucolic paths dip into mature woodlands to visit a small waterfall. Also in the southern part of the park is Lauriault Falls and a pleasant access trail less than two miles long.

Another easy exploration is on Champkin Mountain where a short, heavily-wooded trail bursts out to an observation platform at the edge of the Eardley Escarpment overlooking the Ottawa River Valley. The cliffs are more than 1000 feet above the valley floor and a hot, dry micro-climate hosts 61 endangered plants in the thick understory of the woods. The stands of red
cedar are Quebec's finest. More spirited canine hiking can be found on the Escarpment, including the challenging 5-mile Wolf Trail. Glaciers gripped this land 10,000 years
ago and shaped the rocky landscape.

All canine hiking at Gatineau must be day-hiking - dogs are not allowed in the campgrounds. This makes expeditions deep into the Laurentian Mountains problematic. Dogs are also prohibited atbeaches, picnic areas and Pink Lake, King Mountain or Luskville trails.

The park blankets the area north of Hull and Highways 5, 105, 148 and 366 all lead to Gatineau.