The Outaouais is a large region of western Quebec. This journal is limited to the area a couple hours drive of Montreal, or a "daytripping" distance from the city.
Preliminaries & Discovery:
Outaouais, the word, is the French name for the Ottawa River. It's a weird word in English and nearly impossible to spell.
I've lived in Montreal for 6 years and have mainly explored the Lanaudiere, Laurentides, and Canton D'Est regions around the city because of my interest in hiking as a primary outdoor activity. Those regions have the best "mountains" close to Montreal.
After doing a decent amount of hiking in those areas and summiting most of the tallest peaks available, we found ourselves unsatisfied (nothing in this area compares with New England or the Gaspe Peninsula - both previous places we've lived).
Realizing that hiking in this area will never satisfy our desires for the challenges and vistas we seek, we turned out sights to paddling and bought a canoe in June 2020. Now that we are seeking water adventures I turned my attention to the Outaouais, an area defined by beautiful and historic river waterways, populated with untold numbers of lakes, including some significant reservoirs where a person could be canoeing for days.
(Of note: rivers, waterways, and lakes where one can canoe for days and weeks at time cover most of Quebec's landmass.)
The water brought me to the Outaouais but it's charms extend beyond canoeing.
And those charms and treasures are what you'll find in this journal.
Purpose of this Journal:
As I explore the region I will be adding interesting outdoor places and destinations.
Each picture in this journal has a map to show you exactly where you can find that place.
These Outaouais destinations will all be day-trippable from Montreal. (And easily accessible from Gatineau/Ottawa.) Or you could stay in the region and string together a tour of them and other places.
Other journal entries related to canoeing, camping, etc. in the area can be found by clicking here -> #outaouais
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Parc des chutes de Denholm
I had been hoping to visit these falls someday and I was delighted that our somewhat random backroads tour brought us right past them.
Before visiting the falls I took a quick hike up the Sentiers des arts to the look out. Well worth the short hike up.
At this time of year, spring, the bugs are bad so bring bug net and bug spray. (Good to keep in your “grab ‘n go” gear all summer.)
Swimming at the covered bridge in Wakefield.
This is a popular spot. I took a quick swim, water was very chilly this time of year.
Watched a group of young adults jump off the bridge into the water.
There’s a small historic park near here with old buildings, interpretive signs, and parking. In high season I imagine that fills up quickly. There is also road parking up the hill.
According to locals I chatted with, the “swimming rock” where I lounged in the sun is sometimes nearly covered with water if the Paugan Dam, upriver, is opened.
Wakefield itself is a beautiful little village, artsy & touristy with all the usual necessities/attractions - brulerie, boulangerie, patisserie....
For our long weekend trip we stayed at an Airbnb in Chelsea.
Chelsea is a cute place with good access to Gatineau Park. It also feels like the gateway to the Gatineau River valley region with all its outdoor recreation.
Or, you can head south into Ottawa for all the historic and cultural sites.
Lots of possibilities.
Gatineau park is a large park just north of Ottawa & Gatineau.
Close to the nation’s capital this is a popular park. We visited during Covid when non-essential travel was banned between Ontario and Quebec, which meant we encountered way less people than would normally be found in the park on a long weekend.
In normal times this would not be a destination for us on a long weekend with all the crowds.
There are a multitude of 4 season activities to do in the Park including hiking, x-county skiing, snowshoeing, swimming, paddling, cycling, camping etc.
The Gatineau Park website itself warns of busy weekend experiences and recommends weekday visits. Keep that in mind if you go.
On our inaugural trip to the park we took a little hike to the cascades at Carbide Willson Ruins, accessed via Trail 36 at parking lot P11. Trail is a 3.25 km round trip.
Easy walking, some elevation change, and a lovely destination - combination of history and nature.
If you click on the map with the photo you'll see lots of trails in the area.
See also: https://ncc-ccn.gc.ca/places/carbide-willson-ruins
This was an attempt to go car camping at #reservefauniquedepapineaulabelle
I packed the car and drove west from the city with the hopes of camping in the woods for the night.
Unfortunately, the roads in the reserve were still snowy and wet from winter and impassable and so no stealth camping was possible.
I cooked my supper and enjoyed this river view instead. No bugs yet this early in the season.
Made sure to get back home to the city for the 9:30 curfew.