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Wakefield in the fall. Photo: all4travel/Flickr.

613 Geotours: Alternatives to Gatineau Park for leafy views

By Bruce Burwell on September 15, 2020

In previous geotours we’ve focused on specific 613 locations to visit for your geographic education and edification. This week though, we’re doing the exact opposite: telling you where not to go. This geotour is all about viewing the fall colours and we’re suggesting you NOT go to Gatineau Park.

Yes, Gatineau Park is pretty in the fall. It’s also super crowded. Photo: Zhongmin Li/Flickr.

Fall is my favourite season in the 613. The leaves are changing, the bugs are gone, and sunscreen isn’t needed. The sound of dead leaves being crunched is one of my favourite sounds in the world. And this year when you take your fall hike, you can wear those shapeless hoodies and sweats that have become our collective pandemic wardrobe.

So why not go to Gatineau Park? Well, the colours will be pretty there, but you can see great colours all over the region. And the park is 100 per cent guaranteed to be crowded on weekends. So if you must go, do it on a weekday. Even the NCC agrees with me on that. They do, however, offer a shuttle to the park on weekends for those of you who really aren’t paying attention.

Where should you go on a fall weekend? Some of the places we’ve covered in our geotours are good choices: Mer Bleue is amazingly pretty in the fall. The larches there turn a stunning yellow. Petrie Island is lovely this time of year, too. And if you go to view the Erotic Erratic, you can sit on an outdoor patio in Wakefield afterwards and enjoy the colours all around you.

The yellow larches at Mer Bleue. Photo: Karen Chappelle/Flickr.

Where else? Well, a country drive anywhere in the region is likely to yield some great colours. Last year, I drove Highway 50 from Montebello to Gatineau during the peak of the colours and they were the brightest I’ve ever seen. So a day trip to Parc Omega or Chateau Montebello would be a nice choice.

You can also make new friends at Parc Omega. Photo: Tom Li/Flickr.

And here’s a life hack for you. This fall, why not go to a sugar bush? Sure, everyone else does it in the spring. But time has lost all meaning and the freaking Stanley Cup finals are happening in September, so why shouldn’t you be going to a sugar bush in the fall? They have a lot of maples, so you are guaranteed colour. One of my favourite sugar bushes, Wheeler’s, has recently reopened their pancake house. They have nice walking trails there too.

The maples at Wheeler’s sugar bush. Photo: @wheelersmaple/Twitter.