There is a dreamy state between the end of summer when the breeze begins to cool, but just before winter’s frost lightly sprinkles the ground. It’s a season that leads me beyond the western borders of Ottawa, where just across the Québec-Ontario border, an expansive park displays a tantalizing palate of fall hues.
In an effort to sneak in one more camping trip before the temperature dips, I headed to Gatineau for a rejuvenating getaway amongst the colourful autumn canopy.
With the crisp evening air, we were grateful we chose to rent one of the parks four-season tents where we spent the evening comfortably nestled by the rustic wood stove playing cards by candlelight. We woke the next morning in our snug cabin and emerged into the woods to cook breakfast by the fire as auburn and yellow leaves floated down from the lofty trees above.
The park spans nearly 400 square kilometres and is a four-seasons haven for outdoor adventurers. Most captivating to visitors this time of year are the rolling hills covered with splashes of deep oranges and pale yellows and the numerous quaint villages that offer spots to indulge along your journey.
The trails around Pink Lake take hikers down a loop trail that offers numerous lookout points for competing views of the lake. From all vantage points, Pink Lake’s murky teal surface and vivid fall foliage create a quintessential autumn landscape.
An even more dramatic view can be admired from Champlain Lookout. From atop the stone walls, we gazed across the Ottawa Valley where the junction of cascading hills trail off into the valley floor.
For an extra indulgence, we headed to the quaint town of Old Chelsea, home to Nordic Spa. There, we admired the stunning views of fall foliage while bathing in the restorative Scandinavian pools, which was a truly gratifying experience.
From there, we headed to one of Old Chelsea’s eclectic coffee shops, Biscotti & Cie. An array of seasonal sandwiches and quiches filled the menu while the shop tables were brimming with customers. We picked a spot beneath the arboured porch and wasted away the rest of the afternoon with steaming coffee and pumpkin pie while enjoying the last few rays of sunshine before the dawn of a new season.