Have you been to Gatineau Gatineau Park lately? Just a short drive from Ottawa, this natural wonder offers incredible views and plenty of family friendly fun. Summer is the ideal time to visit Gatineau Park when outdoor activities like horseback riding, boating and hiking are possible. Admission is free, making it an affordable vacation for your family. Get away from the stress of the city and immerse yourself in the beauty of the great outdoors.
Combine your love of animals with your admiration for nature with horseback riding. Gatineau Park’s 10 km horseback riding trail is open every year from June 1 to October 31. This activity is best suited for families with older children who have ridden horses in the past. To ride through this majestic park you’ll need to become a member of the Pontiac Equestrian Association, as well as bring your own horse as horse rentals are not offered at Gatineau Park.
If all that boating has got you wanting to go for a swim, you’ll be glad to hear Gatineau Park has five public beaches and one private beach for campers: O’Brien Beach (Meech Lake), Blanchet Beach (Meech Lake), Breton Beach (Philippe Lake), Parent Beach (Philippe Lake), La Pêche Beach (La Pêche Lake) and Smith Beach (Phillipe Lake, for campers only). Your family will love taking a dip in the cool refreshing lake water to escape the summer heat. According to the official Gatineau Park website, beaches will open on Friday, June 13, 2014 and lifeguards are on duty daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Gatineau Park’s beautiful lakes make boating an unforgettable experience. Choose between Meech Lake, Philippe Lake and La Pêche Lake. Boat rentals are available on both Phillipe Lake (canoes, rowboats, kayaks and pedal boats) and La Pêche Lake (canoes, rowboats and kayaks). Before you embark, take an online boating safety course to educate your children about staying safe in the water, as knowing what to do in case of an emergency can make a boating trip more enjoyable for the entire family. Also, be aware that beach fishing is not permitted on the lakes of Gatineau Park, so if you are hoping to make a catch, you’ll have to rent a boat.
Staying overnight is encouraged at Gatineau Park because it’s impossible to enjoy the true beauty of this natural wonderland in one day. Four-season tents, yurts and cabins are located at Philippe Lake (family campground), Taylor Lake (semi-wilderness family campground) and La Pêche Lake (canoe camping) and accommodate four adults or two adults with four children, with the exception of cabins which can fit up to 17 people. The summer rental period is from mid-May to mid-October. This traditional family activity is perfect for parents who want their children to experience a vacation away from technology.
Hiking & Biking
With 90,000 acres to explore, hiking is a natural choice for families visiting Gatineau Park. The amazing network of trails will allow a close up view of the park’s immense variety of wildlife and fauna. Over 165 miles of hiking trails are available for both beginner and advanced hikers. Trails ideal for small children and novice hikers include the Des Fées Lake Trail (great for birdwatching) and the Pioneer Trail. If you’ve brought bikes along, consider visiting one of the four lookouts (Champlain, Eardely Escarpment, the Canadian Shield or St. Lawrence Lowlands) to take in a spectacular view.