P7 to Keogan (via more difficult trails).
Trails # 30 (blue), # 6 (red), # 34 (blue), # 4, (blue), # 14 (green) and # 1 (green) in the Gatineau Park. Most of this route consists of back-country trails for classic cross-country skiing. Trails # 30, # 14, and # 1 are shared trails. Total distance (there and back) is about 12 to 13 kilometres.
Trail # 1 provides for the easiest and most direct route between P7 and Keogan Cabin. But if you are ready for some of the more difficult back-country trails, this area offers a number of interesting alternatives for skiing between these two points.
Here is one example. Immediately at the top of a large hill where trail # 30 meets trail # 1, turn right onto trail # 6. There are a number of trails that begin and end at this point, so make sure you are on the eastern leg of trail # 6.
This is a back-country trail, meaning it receives a minimum of grooming. It is also classified as a red (black diamond) trail, which are the most difficult in the Park. And it is difficult. You will be either climbing or going downhill for most of it. It's also a narrow trail, meaning that some areas aren't really wide enough to effectively use the herringbone technique for hill climbing, or to control your speed when going down by snow plowing. And to add to the challenge, there are lots of twists and turns, and even some moguls on some of the hills. If you are not used to this type of skiing, you may end up sitting more often that you would like.
Assuming you started on the right leg of trail # 6, you soon find that it follows the top of a ridge (a small cliff). This route will bring you to a lookout (complete with a bench) that offers a commanding view of Gatineau and Orleans.
Trail # 6 loops back to its starting point on trail # 1. But rather than doing this loop, turn off onto trail # 34. This is classified as a blue back-country trail, meaning that it's supposed to be touch easier than the # 6. Large parts of trail # 34 are very similar to the # 6, only slightly flatter (but there are still plenty of hills). Other parts of the # 34 pass through open areas and are not all that difficult.
Trail # 34 ends at trail # 4, where you'll turn right. The # 4 is a groomed blue trail, and after all that back-county skiing, it will seem easy. You only have to stay on the # 4 for a couple hundred metres to reach the turnoff for trail # 14. You will turn left onto the # 14, which is a green groomed trail. Stay on it until you reach trail # 1. This will be the final leg to the Keogan Cabin, where you'll be able to take a well-deserved break. If all that back-country skiing has tuckered-you-out, you will have the option of staying on trail # 1 for your return trip to P 7.
An easier alternative.
There is an alternative for people who haven't done too much cross-country skiing, and want to try some back-country skiing without having to commit themselves to the more difficult blue and red trails. Trail # 19 starts at the same point where people turn off trail # 1 to get to the # 6. The # 19 is a green back-country trail. It's a bit harder and more work than a regular groomed green trail, but it's many times easier than trail # 6. Another nice feature of trail # 19 is that after about half a kilometre, it passes within a few meters of trail # 1. If, at this point, you decide that back-country skiing isn't your cup of tea, simply cross over to trail # 1.
(Note that the maps on this web site do not show all the back-country trails in this area. of the Park.)
(Click on the map for a larger view of the surrounding area of the park.)
(Photos from this trail - click on the images for larger pictures )
Photo(s) and web page, © Michael McGoldrick, 2006.
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