Fall Foliage: Gatineau Park

The weekend before Thanksgiving, my Dad and I took a drive into the autumn colours of Gatineau Park. The conservation grounds span the northwest border of Gatineau, Quebec, the city which rests across the river from Ottawa, Ontario. Extending about 360 square kilometres, the park offers a plethora of scenic trails, lakes and beaches for endless summer activities such as biking, swimming and rock climbing.

We originally planned to explore two of the park’s most spectacular trails: Pink Lake and the Lauriault Trail. However, our visit didn’t go quite as planned.

Being the first beautiful Saturday of October with the leaves’ bright hues taking form, I came prepared for the horde. But we never anticipated a park with no parking, as every single lot for all hiking trails were full to capacity.

After spending an hour and a half trying to enter the park, then driving aimlessly for parking, we decided anything goes at this point. Eventually we found some prime real estate in an unmarked lot, nowhere near any of the trails we had hoped except for the famous Champlain Lookout. But even that was an hour walk from here without a shuttle bus, and a caged fence from ongoing restoration had partially blocked everyone’s view. Our luck sank further when we were ready to explore by 3:30 p.m. only to find out the last shuttles were in half an hour.

Fortunately, the two of us made the best out of what we could see. This time I brought my DSLR and captured some shots of the premature fall colours during my favourite month of the year.

Funnily enough, I lived in Ottawa for nearly seven years, right across the river. Yet never once did I step foot in Gatineau Park. Until now. I hoped to use up my remaining vacation days and more importantly, enjoy a last-minute adventure with my Dad.

I still yearn for the faraway experiences, but amidst planning and saving money I also value the places closer to home.

Here is the second series of my autumn photography, and with a better camera this time around!

Also note – I decided to leave these photos unedited for this post. I like to view their raw format first, then edit at a later time. I’ll likely share some edited versions on Instagram soon!

Peeking at the colours through the parking lot
A creek leading to Bourgeois Lake
Waded through a rough trail and mud to find Bourgeois Lake. I was standing in waist-high tall grass while taking this picture.
Taken from Huron Lookout, the first of two that we found. Facing west, the Ottawa River snakes past, with Ontario on the other side.
Colours forming at Huron Lookout
Practicing my focus shots!
Found this little fellow also enjoying the view
An image from our second spot called Étienne Brûlé Lookout. At this point, it was 5 p.m. and approaching dusk. The river’s glare was incredibly bright from the setting sun.
My Dad and I spent an hour here at Étienne Brûlé, sitting on a wall overlooking the road, figuring out dinner and watching the sunset
A serene moment taken at O’Brien Beach at the south point of Meech Lake. In addition to its beauty, Meech Lake was a place of great political significance during Canada’s final stages of independence from the UK. During the Meech Lake Accord in 1987, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney hoped to win Quebec’s approval of a new Constitution. On the heels of the Quebec separatist movement of the 1990s, the Accord’s terms were never materialized.
I’m envious of those who enjoy these peaceful summertime retreats
Sunset over Meech Lake
The next day, we drove west of Gatineau and crossed back into Ontario through a quaint (but slow) barge across the Ottawa River in a small-town named Quyon. I had the chance to step out of the car while en route to the other side. Can you spot the fishermen in the middle?

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