Saturday, November 28, 2009

Free Winter Trail Map

Free Copy of 2009-2010 Winter Trail Map for Gatineau Park

Click on the following link for free download.
This version shows the new snowshoe trails described in my earlier post.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Details of New Snowshoe Trails in Gatineau Park

Based on discussions with Gatineau Park representatives, here are details of the new snowshoe trails shown on this year's 2009-10 Winter Trail map (now available):

Lac Phillippe
  • New trail #74 begins at P19, crosses trail #51 and reaches Renaud sheleter at Lac Renaud. It then forks back to the Phillipe and Des Pins cabins, crosses trail #50 to connect to existing trail #73 at the Breton pay phone.
Lacs Brown-Carman-des Sources
  • Trail #71 now extends past the rest area and reaches Lac Carman before looping back to P15. The portion from the rest area to Lac Carman already existed but was no longer operational until being re-opened for this year. The portion back to P15 is new. A short (~500m) interconnection now links trail #71 with existing trail #72

MacKenzie King

  • Trail #63 is a short (~1km) loop between P6 and the Champlain parkway.

If I've missed any other changes to the snowshoe trails, please let me know.

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New Winter Trail Map - Gatineau Park

FYI - The new winter trail map is now on sale at the Gatineau Park Vistor's Centre in Chelsea. It shows the new snowshoeing trails opening up this year. I'll post additional details later this weekend.

Also, had some interesting discussions with representatives from the Gatineau Park at their open house today. Stay tuned for details!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Trail Restoration Report - Wolf/Blanchet Loop (Gatineau Park)

The National Capital Commission has recently completed restoration of part of the Wolf/Blanchet loop, one of the most popular hiking and snowshoeing trail in the Gatineau Park.

For almost any trail the causes of erosion are varied, but oftentimes drainage issues and steep slopes are
contributing factors.

In the example below (click on any picture to enlarge), proximity to a beaver dam leads to drainage issues and frequent muddy conditions.

The side effect of this problem is that many hikers walk around the mud, effectively widening the trail and increasing erosion in the area as shown below.

An example where the slope is a contributing factor is shown below. The soil that initially covered the root system of this tree was likely loosened by footsteps and surface water from rain/snow gradually exposed the root system.

Clearly this is a popular trail as can be seen in the pictures above. Restricting access (as a means of controlling erosion) isn't a reasonable solution and would go against the mandate of the NCC to "promote such public activities and events in the National Capital Region".

Instead, trail restoration offers a means of dealing with drainage and erosion problems. Bridges and steps can be built over sensitive areas. Drainage channels (or pipes under trails) can alleviate muddy conditions. Trails can be built-up with a stone base in humid areas.

The downside of these interventions is that the trail loses it's natural ruggedness and beauty. Seeing an ABS pipe under a trail or a smooth stone-based trail surface seems out of place in the middle of nature reserve such as the Gatineau Park.

The challenge in all of this is striking the right balance. Regardless of the approach taken, it is impossible to please everyone & to address all concerns.

The pictures below show the results of the NCC's efforts on this trail. The pictures were taken on the way down from the Tawadina lookout to Parking #13 by Meech Lake. Most of the restoration efforts are between the lookout and Trail #1. The remainder is from Trail #1 part-way towards Trail #38. Don't be misled by the appearance of the trail in these pictures. You're not seeing stone-dust, gravel or cement on the trails! Instead, the leaves covering the ground have been stepped on enough times by muddy soles that they've taken on a dull grey colour. You can see the same effect on some of the wooden bridges also.

The last picture shows what I mean by a stone-based trail restoration. You may notice an ABS pipe under the trail to allow water to flow from one side of the trail to the other.

As a result of these restoration efforts, the Tawadina lookout is now more accessible than ever to the general public. More people will get to see the breathtaking view and at the same time there will be fewer opportunities to have lookout all to yourself.

For those longing for the "untouched" natural beauty of this trail, the good news is that western half of the loop remains as rugged and challenging as always.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Preview of New Snowshoeing Trails in Gatineau Park

As mentioned in an earlier post, the Gatineau Park is opening (a?) new snowshoe trail(s?) this year. I'm told the new Winter Trails map won't be available until early December.

If you're interested in getting a preview, there will be a "Come and meet with our team!" event this weekend (click on link for details) in the Gatineau Park. Visitors are encouraged to " Take advantage of this opportunity to ....get information regarding upcoming features including: ... new snowshoe trails ..."

The event will take place on Saturday, November 14th, 2009 from 10 am to 4:00 pm at the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre, located on 33 Scott Rd. Chelsea, Quebec.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Index of Individual Trip Reports

In collaboration with Canadian Canoe Routes, I've created an index of individual trip reports, sorted alphabetically first by province then by location. Later I'll post the reciprocal links back to Canadian Canoe Routes once their site has been updated with links to my trip reports.

I hope you find this index useful. Let me know if you have any suggested improvements!

British Columbia
Georgian Bay

Philip Edwards Island Area
Ottawa River
Blue Sea Lake
Gatineau River
Paugan Dam to Lac Ste-Marie (partial route) May 2007
Lac Ste-Marie to Paugan Dam (partial route) July 2007
Hautes-Gorges de la Malbaie
Acropole des Draveurs Hiking/Lookout Aug 2007
Lac Lapèche (Gatineau Park)
Day Trip May 2007
Meech Lake (Gatineau Park)
Meech Lake Oct 2009
Saguenay Fjord
Guided Multi-Day Trip Aug 2007
Thirty-One Mile Lake
Day Trip Sept. 2008

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

New Snowshoeing Trails in Gatineau Park

According to a reliable source, new snowshoeing trails will be added to the existing network in the Gatineau Park. The existing winter map currently shows only 5 snowshoe trails (totaling 20 kilometers or approximately 12.5 miles):
  • #60/61 (near Gatineau Park Visitor's Centre in Chelsea)
  • #62 also known as Blanchet & Wolf's Trails (from Parking #13 near Meech Lake)
  • #70/71 (from Parking #15 on Cross Loop road)
  • #72 (from Parking #17 near Wakefield)
  • #73 (from Parking #19 near Lac Philippe)
The additional trails will be a welcomed given the exploding popularity of snowshoeing.

The new winter map showing the new trails should be available in early December.

Stay tuned for details!

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