If you’re visiting Ottawa, add some Gatineau Park hiking trails to your itinerary. Only 30 minutes from the city, Wolf Trail in Gatineau Park is the perfect place for an afternoon hike. You’ll share this forested path with wildlife and enjoy several scenic lookouts. Gatineau Park has plenty of hiking, biking, and swimming options for all to enjoy.
Gatineau Park is managed by the National Capital Commission of the National Capital Region. Ottawa boasts about the 361-km2 gem of a park, but it’s actually across the Ottawa River in the Outaouais region of Quebec. With over 183 kilometres to explore, Gatineau Park trails offer something for everyone.
When I lived in Ottawa (several years ago!), we used to go canoeing and swimming at Meech Lake in Gatineau Park, but hadn’t done much hiking in the area. After my work trip last week, I decided to head out for a Gatineau Park hike after a wholehearted recommendation from a friend. I was pleasantly surprised to find a quiet trail on a sunny Friday afternoon.
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About Wolf Trail #62
Location: Gatineau Park, Quebec
Distance: 8.5 km loop
Elevation: 290 m elevation gain
Time: 2.5 – 3 hours
Dog-friendly: Yes, but dogs must remain on a leash.
Features: Wolf Trail (#62) is a forested loop in the Gatineau Hills, with the beautiful Tawadina Lookout over the Ottawa River Valley. Plus, the Mahingan Lookout over the Gatineau Hills is noteworthy, with benches along the way for a rest. In case you’re wondering, Wolf Trail is also known as Trail 62 or Blanchet Trail. Whatever name you use, you’re sure to find one of the best Gatineau Park hikes around!
Gatineau Park Parking
Compared to some, Gatineau Park parking is fairly straightforward. Finding the Wolf Trail (#62) trailhead at the P13 parking lot shouldn’t be difficult. From Ottawa, cross into Gatineau (city) and take Autoroute 5 north until reaching Exit 12 for Chemin Old Chelsea (Old Chelsea Road). Turn left and continue on Chemin du Lac Meech (Lake Meech Rd) for about 9 km. Then find P13 on your left.
There’s no entrance fee for Gatineau Park. However, be prepared to pay for parking during the summer months. Visitors can either purchase a season pass or pay daily parking rates.
Note: From mid-June to Labour Day, expect to pay parking fees in Gatineau Park. A season parking pass for summer 2022 is $86.23 and daily parking pass is $13 per vehicle. Find parking information and rates on the NCC website.
Wolf Trail Hike—Popular Gatineau Park Trail
You never know what spring will bring in Canada. I visited Ottawa last week and decided to head over to Gatineau Park for an afternoon. Turns out, it was one of the hottest days yet at over 30 degrees! I had the gear and supplies to stay comfortable on the trail—even though I was hot and sweaty….
Wolf Trail (#62) begins in the P13 parking area near Blanchet Beach. From the parking lot, head up the hill past the information sign and continue along the shaded forest trail. After about 500 metres, you’ll approach a fork in the path. I kept left and chose to hike clockwise around the loop, which was less steep than the counterclockwise route.
After about 3 km through the forest, you should notice a side trail to the left. Take the short detour up to the spectacular Tawadina Lookout over the Ottawa River Valley. This is a great spot for a rest or picnic lunch on the flat rock. Once you’ve taken in the views, continue hiking uphill for another 1.5 km. After Mahingan Lookout, follow the rest of the trail mostly downhill with some steep sections. The entire Wolf Trail loop is about 8.5 km and takes 2.5 – 3 hours for most hikers. If you enjoy an adventure with a view, don’t miss this Gatineau Park hike!
Note: If you’d like to extend your stay, summer and winter camping is available in Gatineau Park. You must make a reservation to camp in the park.
Read more: The Grotto Hike in Bruce Peninsula National Park
Know Before You Go
Parking: Parking is available at P13. There is no fee for parking during the off-season. However, paid parking is required from mid-June to Labour Day.
Map: Visitors can download the PDF trail map for Gatineau Park.
Signage: There are plenty of trail markers. Just don’t expect to see “Wolf Trail”—follow Blanchet Trail or Trail 62 instead.
Toilet: I didn’t see toilets at the trailhead or along the trail. Though there are outhouses in other parking lots nearby.
Steep hills: Be prepared to hike up and down steep terrain. Trekking poles might be helpful for some hikers. Wolf Trail also has some boardwalk and hopscotch creek crossings.
Emergency: In an emergency situation within Gatineau Park, call 613-239-5353 for emergency response.
What To Bring on a Gatineau Park Hike
After hiking in different parks across Canada, I have a broad view of trail difficulty levels. While the NCC officially designates Wolf Trail as difficult, I’d say it fits more into the moderate category. Even so, it’s not an easy trail. Hikers should be prepared for a decent challenge.
Bring a daypack with enough water and snacks for the distance. On a 30-degree day, you may want more water than usual to stay hydrated. I typically carry this 2-litre bladder bag.
I didn’t have sunscreen but wore a long-sleeve shirt for sun protection. That worked well in the shaded forest, and I didn’t linger in direct sunlight. I should’ve also brought bug spray, as the blackflies and mosquitoes were out. Trekking poles might come in handy for the steeper sections. Before heading out, plan to bring day hiking gear essentials with you.
Read more: 10 Day Hiking Essentials: What to Bring on a Hike
Gatineau Park Wildlife
Gatineau Park conservation area is a haven for wildlife. Therefore, it’s also paradise for wildlife photographers, bird watchers, and nature enthusiasts alike! On the trail, you could cross paths with white-tailed deer, beaver, black bear, and more. In the wetlands areas, it’s not unusual to spot amphibians and reptiles. Visitors on Gatineau Park trails are expected to respect wildlife and this rich biodiversity.
Did you know there are about 230 bird species in Gatineau Park? During my 2.5-hour hike, I saw a blue jay, robin, woodpecker, a few turkey vulture, and some unfamiliar bird species.
Since Gatineau Park is bear country, consider bringing bear spray and an animal deterrent horn along. Black bears tend to be timid around humans, but you should be familiar with bear safety. Report wildlife sightings by calling 613-239-5353.
Wolf Trail Gatineau Park Map
Have you visited Gatineau Park in Quebec? Did you hike the Wolf Trail or another trail in the park? Tell me about your experience below.
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