In Gatineau Park, fewer trails are open to dogs in the winter. Why is this?
Winter hiking trails that permit dogs in the winter are: Sugarbush Trail (Chelsea, Gatineau Park Visitor Centre); Lauriault Trail (Mackenzie King Estate, P6); Pioneers Trail (Hull sector of Gatineau, P3); and Capital Pathway (Hull sector of Gatineau, P1/P3). And you do not need a day pass when visiting these sites. Why are dogs not allowed elsewhere?
There is a big difference between summer and winter in terms of the number of trails where you can walk your leashed dog in Gatineau Park. There are two main reasons why: wildlife and trail quality.
Even when leashed, dogs are a source of stress for wildlife. In winter, the colder temperatures, difficulty moving through snow and scarcity of food make survival difficult for wild animals. To help protect them, the National Capital Commission (NCC) limits the number of places where dogs are allowed during the cold winter months. Regarding trail quality and safety for humans, dogs are not permitted on cross-country ski, snowshoe or snow bike trails because they compromise trail safety and quality and leave their waste on the trails. Their tracks in the snow also create dangerous conditions for skiing.
Bordering the Gatineau Park are Sentiers Wakefield Trails. Wakefield Trails are open year round for walkers with their dogs, as long as the dog is always on a leash and owners pick up their poop. We have added poop buckets at trailheads to make it easy!
For the trail map, see: https://www.sentierswakefieldtrails.ca/.
Ken Bouchard, president, Sentiers Wakefield Trails