Bike Loop Through Gatineau Park to Old Chelsea

The village of Old Chelsea is a popular destination for visitors to Gatineau Park. They have a great information centre, some short hiking trails, and a favourite ice cream parlour, amongst other amenities and attractions. The following is a loop starting from parking lot 3 (P3 on all the maps) at the southern end of the park that mostly follows the Gatineau Park Pathway towards Old Chelsea. On the way back the route goes along the Gatineau Parkway. A separate route from Ottawa to P3 can be found by clicking here.


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Southern entrance to Gatineau Park at P3
Southern entrance to Gatineau Park at P3

I hopped onto the Gatineau Park Pathway at the northern end of P3 and followed it all the way to Chemin de la Mine. The pathway was a smooth pleasant ride with just a couple of small hills to climb.

Gatineau Park Pathway
Gatineau Park Pathway

I accessed Chemin de la Mine from the pathway and continued north.

Access to Chemin de la Mine from the Gatineau Park Pathway
Access to Chemin de la Mine from the Gatineau Park Pathway

Chemin de la Mine is a two lane winding road with speedy traffic and little or no shoulder.

Chemin de la Mine
Chemin de la Mine

It eventually intersects Notch Road. I continued north along Notch Road which becomes a two lane straight-away with packed dirt/gravel shoulders.

Notch Road
Notch Road

UPDATE Spring 2018 : Chemin de la Mine and Notch Road are the poorest sections of this route. The good news is that there are plans to put in bike lanes along Chemin de la Mine and Notch Road into Old Chelsea some time this summer or fall.

Notch road ends at Chemin de Kingsmere which has a fine semi-protected bike lane leading in to Old Chelsea.

Kingsmere
Kingsmere

A short distance north along Chemin Scott took me to La Cigale, popular for it’s yummy ice cream.

La Cigale
La Cigale!

AND they have the funkiest go-hut around!

La bécosse!
La bécosse!

A short distance north sits the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre.

Gatineau Park Visitor Centre
Gatineau Park Visitor Centre

Within the visitor centre is a great little exhibit describing the park, but ask the front counter because it isn’t obvious when you walk in.

Exhibit within the visitor centre
Exhibit within the visitor centre

From the Visitor Info staff I discovered that on Saturday mornings the Gatineau Parkway is closed to vehicular traffic between Chemin de lac-Meech and Promenade Champlain. Not wanting to re-visit the road conditions along Notch Road and Chemin de la Mine, I chose this option, fully cognizant of the serious climb I was in for.

Meech Lake Road has a fine bike lane that led me to the Parkway.

Bike lane along Meech lake Road
Bike lane along Meech lake Road

I must say, nothing approaches heavenly biking than the Gatineau Parkway sans cars. Apart from the freedom of not worrying about getting run over, the Parkways surface is in spectacular condition. It isn’t cleared or salted in the winter, keeping it from becoming the bumpier roads we northerners accept as standard. I switched into low-low gear and floated up the steady incline.

Riding along the carless Gatineau Parkway
Riding along the carless Gatineau Parkway

Traffic re-appeared where the parkway meets Promenade Champlain, however even drivers with lead feet gave ample space to the great number of cyclists along the parkway.

Cars passing cyclists along Gatineau Parkway
Cars passing cyclists along Gatineau Parkway

There is a nice resting spot at Pink Lake.

Pink Lake resting spot
Pink Lake resting spot

Then it’s down the long hill back to P3.

P3
Back at P3

Et Voila!

On Sunday mornings the Gatineau Parkway starting from P3 is closed to traffic, as is Promenade Champlain.

Ride down Leitrim Road in memory of Andy Nevin

While cycling along Leitrim Road on the morning of Sunday June 28th, Andy Nevin was struck and killed by someone driving a white pick-up truck. The driver fled the scene of the collision and has yet to be apprehended. Andy was a father of two young boys. He was on his way to fix up a house his family were moving into just down the road from their previous home. Update – July 8 – 39 year old man arrested in hit & run death of Andy Nevin.

This past Sunday morning Patrick and I rode along Leitrim Road in an attempt to try to come to terms with this senselessness tragedy. For many there is an overwhelming feeling of apprehension that follow such horrible events. I know people who have given up riding after a friend or loved one was killed or injured while cycling, even though it remains one of the healthiest ways to get around. But when something like this occurs, facts and stats often seem meaningless.

This ride is in memory of Andy Nevin who should never have lost his life on that early Sunday morning.

Blue line is the route we followed to get there. Red is the stretch we rode along Leitrim Road. Purple line is how we got back.

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We joined Leitrim where it crosses Bowesville Road on the south side of the airport and headed east as far as Albion Road.

Leitrim & Bowesville
Leitrim & Bowesville

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Here’s our ride down Leitrim

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Most cars passed us at speeds well above the posted limits. Drivers seem to have a propensity to speed along popular commuter routes such as Leitrim. In such cases relying on signs alone to get drivers to maintain safe speeds is not effective. As Leitrim is a popular commuter route for drivers, so should it be made safe enough for who wish to do so by bike. Leitrim is also the only way to access the northern trailhead of the Osgoode Multi-Use Pathway.

Visiting the Strutt House by Bike

James Strutt was an Ottawa based Modernist architect and professor at Carleton University. He designed a number of local jewels, including the Trinity United Church, and the Westboro Beach pavilions. My sister was one of his students and has fond memories of how everyone loved his class because of the passion he had for his subject and the support he gave to all his undergraduates.

This summer I rode to the house he designed for his family along Chemin de la Montagne on the western edge of Gatineau Park, popularly known as The Strutt House. A day after my ride the National Capital Commission, in partnership with the Strutt Foundation, announced their intentions to preserve the building and have it open to visitors in time for Canada’s 150th birthday celebration in 2017.

UPDATE 2017: I re-visited the Strutt House with friends and was given a great tour by the Strutt Foundation. An account of that ride, and the huge improvements to accessing the site since this post, can be found here.

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This route begins on the Quebec side of the Portage Bridge and follows multi-use-paths all the way along the Ottawa River up through Gatineau Park as far as the info kiosk indicated by the red marker on the above map.

Multi-Use Path heading up through Gatineau Park
Multi-Use Path heading up through Gatineau Park

On Sunday morning the parkway is closed to motorized vehicles beyond this point. It’s in great condition for riding because they close the parkway in late fall, saving it from the freezing and thawing cycles that wreak havoc on all other roads plowed and salted throughout the winter.

The Gatineau Parkway
The Gatineau Parkway

After a healthy climb one arrives at the Notch Road overpass. There’s a short dirt path off to the right just before the overpass that I followed down to access Notch Road.

Path from the Gatineau Parkway down to Notch Road
Path from the Gatineau Parkway …. to Notch Road

Notch Road is a steep narrow incline down to Chemin de la Montagne.

Looking up Notch Road
Notch Road

Unfortunately Chemin de la Montagne is an unavoidable road with little or no shoulder room to ride along and lots of reckless speeding traffic.

Chemin de la Montagne
Chemin de la Montagne

A short distance along Chemin De la Montagne is a gravel driveway with a corrugated metal canopy structure off to the left.

Short driveway to the right off Chemin de la Montagne
Short driveway to the right off Chemin de la Montagne

A long set of wooden stairs to the right of this structure takes you up to The Strutt House.

Stairs up to the Strutt House
Stairs up to the Strutt House

The exterior of The house is in need of major restoration, so the recent announcement from the NCC and the Strutt Foundation to do just that is very timely. In the process of restoring this valuable work of architecture I hope efforts will be made to provide safe bike access to the site.

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The Strutt House
The Strutt House