Hiking the Gatineau Hills: Ruvini checks out a sunrise, the changing leaves and a former PM’s estate

The view when hiking in the Gatineau Hills

Ruvini Godakandae is a long-time Ottawa resident with a background in broadcast journalism and e-publishing. She loves to find ways to express herself and stay active, primarily through dance, photography and alternative fitness. You’ll often find her out and about discovering Ottawa’s many hidden gems and meeting some interesting and talented folks along the way. Some of her other passions include food, fashion and community involvement.

Ruvini's 4 am wake-up didn't dampen her spirits!

Although the end of summer can seem like a turn for the worst with the end of T-shirts, shorts and good weather, the fall can bring some wonderful sights with the changing of leaf colours. One of the best places to spot this is while hiking in Gatineau Park.

I was recently asked to try something a little different and check out a sunrise at Lusk Falls in Gatineau.  Initially, I jumped at the chance to go hiking but realizing that I would have to be up at 4 am to trek up the hill in the darkness made me a little hesitant. Despite this, the hike was definitely worth it.

So out I went with my flashlight in hand and bell strapped onto my hiking partner. The thought of having a bell strapped as though we were reindeers seemed a bit silly, but they apparently help bears know that you’re coming so you don’t end up creeping up on them.  However, it wasn’t something that made me more confident to hike in the dark.

Since we were venturing out as early as we did, the temperature was a little cool but the hike upward caused us to warm up quickly and even work up a sweat. The trail we followed was 2.5 kilometres one way to the highest point– the Fire Tower lookout. If you’re not a regular hiker, you might find that some points can become a little challenging with the various shaped rocks, steep step-like formations and lack of light if you go as early as I did.

Heading into the Hills

Unfortunately, we were surprised to find out the view wasn’t the greatest to check out a sunrise due to the heights of the trees around us, but the sounds of the birds and stillness around us made for a cool experience.

Word to the wise, if you ever do make the trek up, it’s always good to pack flashlights and some snacks to munch on at the top. Some hot chocolate also helps in the cooler weather. And you can’t forget, some sturdy hiking shoes or runners. It’s also best to stick to the track ‘cause if you’re like me and don’t fare well with directions, you might find yourself scaling a rock (which I did unintentionally). This makes it even more important to have a good pair shoes with proper traction.

If you’re not into a moderate hike at Lusk Falls, you’ll probably enjoy a leisurely stroll at the Mackenzie King Estate, the summer house to William Lyon Mackenze, Canada’s 10th prime minister. The house is surrounding by a lovely garden with a few ruins. The Estate includes a trail called the Lauriault – Waterfall Trail Loop which was a favourite trail for William Lyon Mackenzie while he was prime minister. It was actually King’s government that established Gatineau Park and upon his death it was left as a “gift” to be used as a public park for fellow Canadians. The Bridal Veil Waterfall at the end of the trail is said to be quite nice but we unfortunately visited during a time which hadn’t had much rainfall prior so there really wasn’t much of a waterfall. Now, with all the rain we’ve been having, there’s sure to be a steady flow.

The Mackenzie King Estate

Ruvini at the ruins near the Mackenzie King Estate

There really is no shortage of outdoor activities to take in during the fall season. I’d encourage anyone wanting to take in some beautiful colours and nature to strap on some shoes and go on an adventure.  And when the snow hits, you can continue by going snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.

Wow, Ruvini! Stunning photos! Do you have a favourite hiking spot in the Ottawa area? Tell us about it by leaving a comment below.