Many people of Ottawa/Gatineau know Mont Cascades, as a nice, family friendly ski mountain. With trails on three distinct sectors, the mountain offers skiers and snowboarders a little bit of everything.
What very few people know is that Mont Cascades also features some of the most fun, the best views, and most challenging snowshoeing trails in the region, and that's exactly what Ana and I went today to experience ourselves. If you have snowshoes already, then you are all set to start, but the mountain also rents them for a reasonable cost if you don't.
When you arrive at Mont Cascades, park at the far end of the parking where the lot goes in towards the right side of the magic carpet beginner slope. Go to the end, and the snowshoe trail entrance is to the right.
The trails are well planned out, and well indicated, with small maps posted at key locations and junctions, to help you get your bearings and position. There is a total of 6 trails, ranging from easy to intermediate, to difficult, and to expert.
Trails 1-3 are easy trails, staying mainly around the base of the mountain, with not much vertical to ascend or descend. Perfect for your first time out or just a relaxing exercise. Trail 4 is an intermediate trail, and no doubt offers the best views on the second half of it's length, showcasing the Gatineau river, and the surrounding region. Trail 5 is just a steep wall to the top, which is to be expected as it is the most direct of the trails to the summit and the shortest. Trail 6 is the longest trail as well as among the steepest, following the contours of the mountain, and having lots of steeps to ascend, then descend, then ascend again before reaching the summit.
Either way you choose, you are in for a great experience. And the views at the lookout points at the summit, or near the top of Trail 4 are worth the time and effort.
Our recommendation would be to have some good snowshoes and accompany that with poles, to help you be more stable and solid with your footing, if you plan on tackling Trails 5 and 6. We were going to attempt Trail 5 to go back down the mountain, but it was above our skill level to descend, so make sure you only try it if you are an expert snowshoer.
At a reasonable pace, plan for about an hour and a half per direction, allowing for time to rest and enjoy the magnificent views of the mountain and region. Don't forget to bring a camera as the views at and near the summit are worthy of a souvenir picture. On our visit, we started with the Trail 3, up till Trail 6. Trail 6 proved to be a challenge due to the many steep sections. Once at the summit, we decided on taking Trail 4 (and discovered its great views and vistas, that were absent from Trail 6) to return to the base.
We highly recommend you give Mont Cascades a try on your next snowshoeing adventure.
A beautiful clear Saturday afternoon called for a visit to Gatineau Park to do some hiking. The park is famous for its endless trails and the multitude of choices of where to go and how to get there. This trip was to visit the Carbide Willson Ruins. Located to the North of Meech lake, the ruins can be found after the 3km hike. The trail is not very challenging to get to the ruins, however, there is a long hill halfway there.
Surprisingly, the trail is quite popular and well traveled. Definitely, one of the more popular locations to visit.
Starting from the P11 parking lot by Meech lake, the trail heads up the hill to the North. The forest canopy providing plenty of cover and shade as you make the trip.
Eventually, you reach a long downhill section, which culminates with a bridge over the lake. Looking South from here you can see Meech lake and the cottages that flank the shoreline.
Continuing along the path, you will eventually reach a directional sign post. Oddly enough, to get to the Ruins, you need to head in the Un-Marked direction (in other words, to the Right).
Very shortly after, you will arrive at the Ruins. With waterfalls and cascading streams, the building is something out of a movie. Tall and imposing over its domain, it is slowly being taken back by nature. Trees, vines and leaves shoot up from the inside of the building, which no longer has any windows, doors, floors or roof.
The site is spectacular. A small bridge crosses over the water to the other side.
A curious round building.
The Carbine Willson Ruins were originally constructed as a factory to produce Calcium Carbide fertilizer. The structures took approximately 1000 bags of cement and were built in the early 1910s.
No matter how you look at it, the site is immensely impressive.
Beyond the ruins, the trail continues North and eventually hits more junctions, heading off in all directions of Gatineau Park.
Definitely something unique and different to experience, the Carbide Willson Ruins are another treasure of Gatineau Park, waiting for you to discover. No doubt, the Ruins will be even more spectacular when surrounded by the coming fall colours.