Luskville Falls, Quebec
With a maximum elevation of about 1352 feet, this isn't exactly "mountain climbing", but for me this is the closest thing to it in my neck of the woods.
Located in the Gatineau Hills of South-Western Quebec, near the small town of Luskville, it's a short 15 minute drive for me to hit the trails. It is the most popular and accessible of the many trails in these hills along highway 148.
I've been hiking, bushwhacking and camping in these hills for over 20 years. These rocks and trees have seen me at the best of times and at the worst. However, regardless of my state of mind, those hills have always had a soothing and calming effect on me.
As busy as the main trail to the fire tower has become in the last few years, the hills are still a place I escape to. Nowhere in the world have I spent as much time exploring than in this area. There are many unmarked trails unknown to most visitors (which the NCC is desperately trying to keep that way). There are hikes that will bring you to beautiful waterfalls, sheer rock cliffs, and hidden beaver ponds. The more you explore, the more beauty you find in these hills.
Though I won't be ascending any major summits in this park, it is still a special and magical place for me.
As amazing as it may seem, after all these many years of hiking in this area, it was only in April 2007 that Alice, Luna and I finally made a journey to the highest point in the Gatineau Hills (45° 33' 27"N, 75° 58' 03"W). A geocache had been placed some years back in that spot and we used the co-ordinates to find our way through the wet snow and forest (there is no trail to the location and the NCC does not advertise where it is). We reached the cache after a few hours and I checked the altimeter on my GPS in disbelief... sure enough we were there (1352 feet), though by our forest covered surroundings you would never guess you were at the high point. No peak bagging log book to sign there, that's for sure... but it's the indistinct nature of the location that gives it a hidden and unique feel. It is so unobvious that you would never find the spot without a GPS... and if you did happen on to it, you wouldn't even realize it. Despite this, it was still a special moment for me considering how much these hills have played a part in my life.
Points of Interest
- Old Fire Tower. Located at the western end of the number "1" trail and at the top of the Luskville Falls trail. Once begging to be climbed, this rickety looking tower now has razor wire fencing and a security camera to keep you out! An NCC addition, I'm sure.
- Waterfalls. There are many located throughout the park (A couple in Luskville, one on the Lauriault Trail #7, and others off the beaten path).
- Rock Cliffs. Most of the southern facing side of the hills have exposed cliffs of syenite rock. I believe the NCC has banned rock climbing clubs from some spots on the Eardley Escarpment (which had become quite popular, unfortunately).
- Wildlife. Besides the usual birds, squirrels and chipmunks, I've seen deer, beaver, porcupines (Luna and I were chased by one), hawks, snakes, raccoons, and even a bear cub! Word is there are even some timber wolves in the park.
- Ponds, bogs, streams and lakes. No matter where you go, you will inevitably come across one of these sources of the ever present water!
- Lusk Caves. Unlike western Canada, caves are small and rare here. This is one of the few publicly accessible caves in the region.
- More Adventures. Go to this page for more photos and info on my other adventures in the park.
For more detailed information about the activities, history, geology, and just about everything else the park has to offer, check out the NCC's official Gatineau Park web site: www.canadascapital.gc.ca/places-to-visit/gatineau-park
But if you want to just jump straight in to it, here is an excellent downloadable map of all the marked trails available during the summer: Gatineau Park Trails [PDF 4.2 MB].
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