A national capital region park, located in Quebec just north of Ottawa-Hull, Gatineau Park is a must-see. There is a fine, well-paved, twisty parkway running through the park with many stops for hiking trails and scenic lookouts. In Autumn the ride is particularly spectacular, as 90% of the trees are maples and the colours are superb.
There are several routes through the park and it will require some exploration. My favourite is to follow the twisty road up to Champlain Lookout, a high spot overlooking the Ottawa Valley. Both the road and the view are worth the ride.
The parkway is speed-controlled, 40 and 60 Km/H throughout. It is very busy, especially on weekends, with hikers and bicycle riders, and speed is closely enforced. Go to enjoy the peace and scenery, but don’t plan to speed. Too many people have been hurt by fools on bikes and fast cars, and if it continues some kind of ban may result.
My normal route from the West of Ottawa is
- Take the Ottawa River Parkway to the Champlain Bridge. (The parkway is closed to motor vehicles on Sundays in the summer, in which case find another route. Island Park Drive becomes the Champlain Bridge.)
- After crossing the bridge, turn right at the traffic lights onto the main highway, #148.
- Turn left at the well-marked park entrance, about 2.1 Km from the bridge.
- Enjoy the road in the park.
- I usually turn left, about 10 Km into the park, at the intersection marked “Champlain Lookout” and proceed up the hill to the lookout.