Canada’s national capital region is home to the Gatineau Park, a fantastic city park that offers a variety of activities. The park is run by the National Capital Commission, a crown corporation of the Government of Canada.
The Gatineau Park is the place to go for cross-country skiing in the Ottawa-Gatineau region. It’s home to over 200 kilometers of well-groomed trails for classic skiing, over 100 kilometers of trails for skate skiing, and 45 kilometers of trails for backcountry skiing. The trails are well maintained and groomed at least four times a week, and conditions are updated regularly on the NCC’s website. With both flat and hilly trails, skiers will find what they’re looking for just minutes away from the city.
Fifteen parking areas allow access to over 50 trails, four of which are accessible by public transit. All but one parking area are free. The trails lead to viewpoints, lakes or shelters that are equipped with wood stoves, tables and outdoor facilities. There are also opportunities to turn a ski outing in a winter camping experience as several winter campsites are available.
This outing leaves from the P7 parking area in Kingsmere and leads to the Keogan Shelter. Take Trail 30, an intermediate trail that climbs rather steeply to Trail 19, a beginner trail. There are two nice viewpoints along the way. Once on Trail 19 (it later becomes Trail 1), the terrain flattens and passes through open woods and two lakes that are frozen and completely snow-covered in winter.
The Keogan shelter is reached after a little less than 3 miles. It has a wood stove (wood provided), a clothesline to dry gear, and a dozen picnic tables. There are outdoor facilities and a ski rack to leave skis and poles while enjoying warmth inside the shelter. The return to P7 is via the same trails.
The park does not rent equipment, but renting skis is available in Ottawa and Gatineau. Find more recommended ski routes here.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.