Chutes-de-Denholm baffles me. It is gorgeous, well maintained, and yet there’s hardly ever more than 2 cars in the parking lot. It’s certainly not a busy spot, even during the typical ‘busy’ times. When I think of parc des chutes-de-Denholm I think of words like peaceful and m-a-g-i-c-a-l. How the H-E-double-hockey-sticks does no one know about this fantastic little hidden trail?!
If you’re looking to avoid the bustle of the city and the crowds at Gatineau park, and have a craving for zen like moments – this trail is for you. Did I mention waterfalls?!?! Sigh. Love.
One of my favourite things is to share a hiking day with my nursing school buddies. It a wonderful way to relax, ground ourselves, and talk about what’s going on with school/future aspirations. Most of the girls have graduated this year and already securing jobs as RNs. Woohoo! (I took a year off because, ya know – mortgages. #adultingishard). Logically, having no school means having more time to hike so I picked up Jasmine and Marlena to hit up one of my favourite local (ish) trails.
Mother nature seemed to agree with the plan because it was an absolutely beautiful day for a hike at chutes-de-Denholm.
So about this little known waterfalls trail…
The low down
- Distance from Ottawa: 61 kms (roughly 1hr) via the McDonald Cartier bridge and highways 5N/50E/307.
- Best route: Take the McDonald Cartier bridge from Ottawa over to Quebec which turns into the AUT-5N. Exit ramp for RTE 148E/ 50E and keep straight onto 50E. Take exit 141 for Boulevard de la Vérendrye and turn left onto Boulevard de la Verendrye. Turn right on RTE-307 / Rue St-Louis and stay on the 307 for approx. 37 kms. Eventually you’ll cross a green bridge and you’ll need to turn left on Ch Paugan not far afterwards but before reaching Denholm itself. Continue on Ch Paugan until you reach the four way stop and turn left. This road is paved/dirt. The parking for chutes-de-Denholm is less than a km down the road on the right.
- Alternatively plug in Denholm, Quebec into your GPS but remember to turn Left on Ch Paugan prior to hitting Denholm.
- Suggested stops: If you’re looking for a spot to relax after the hike, you can return to the green bridge on the 307 and stop at the beach for a picnic. The only downfall is that we didn’t see any washrooms onsite but there were picnic tables and fire grills.
- More information: Visit the municipality of Denholm website.
La parc des chutes-de-Denholm has five different trail suggestions ranging from 130m to 3.7 kms in length. To give you a better idea, we hiked the outer loop and completed 6kms. The map is located at the parking lot and again at a few different points on the trail.
The trails are fairly easy with mild rolling elevation and dips. The only heart raising elevation is the 300m up to the first look out, after that it’s easy peasy.
- Highlights: Those waterfalls! Especially in the spring, although I have to say that I’ve gone in the early fall and it’s still been rushing. There is one large waterfalls, one small river/waterfalls/bridgecrossing, two lookouts, well displayed art, and quotes along the trail. The trails are very clearly marked. Cell reception throughout the trail.
- Entrance fee: Free.
- Dogs: Unsure, check with the municipality.
- Washrooms: Outhouses (clean!) onsite near the parking lot.
- Season: Open year round with the exception of during the fall hunting season.
Just like when we went to Mt Gosford, we were thrilled that there weren’t many people on the trails! There were however a lot of flies (no mosquitoes or ticks though!) near the water sources (especially when hiking down in the ravine) which is kinda to be expected in the spring non? **shrugs shoulders**
Side note: Since we’re in the tick/blackfly/mosquito areas (Oh Ontario!) I’ve been loading up on repellent on hikes recently. No one I know is a big fan of DEET but when you weigh the pros and cons (Lyme Disease anyone?!?) you just have to make the right choice for you. Personally I’ll use DEET on my boots/socks/pants and then use a mixture of rose geranium and cedar wood oils on exposed skin. Whatever works right?
I really enjoy interpretive trails and chutes-de-Denholm does it like but highlighting local artists, thoughtful quotes, and tidbits of information about the flora.
Also fun, the diverse terrain! The trail starts in the forest with evergreens to the first look out then breaks into birch trees with bright green leaves followed by open areas, more forest, rivers, and a ravine.
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ~ John Muir
Oh that waterfalls though
Not only is this waterfalls stunning but it’s also highly accessible. It is only a few metres from the parking lot so not matter what your fitness level, all can enjoy a picnic by the falls. For those with mobility issues requiring aids however, this might be a challenge as there are steps to get down to the falls. There’s a picnic table at the base and if you’re brave enough there are plenty of nice flat rocks to sit on while dipping your toes in the water.
Truthfully, I’ve even gone straight in the water and under the falls after a hike! It about chest deep and definitely slippery so not recommended for safety’s sake (or do so on your own accord).
There is also a second ‘waterfalls’ just after you pass the second lookout. Really, it’s a beautiful stream with a bridge but I’ve since this hike listed as having two waterfalls and this is what they mean by the second one.
There a two lookouts on the trail, both of which look out over treed hills. A sight that is understandably most beautiful in the fall. At the first lookout there is a picnic table to rest and be sure to look further at the artistic rock craving.We even managed to spot a pileated woodpecker.
The second lookout is an adorable little porch like lookout over the valley.
Life’s a beach
There were far too many flies at the falls to enjoy our lunch so we decided to take it down the road to the small beach by the green bridge on the 307. The perfect spot for a relaxing lunch with full view of the lac St-Pierre.
“Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.” ~ Lao Tzu
Lunch was filled with stories and laughter and dipping our toes in the lake. Not sure how much you believe in ‘grounding’ and ‘forest bathing’ but there’s something to be said for being barefoot and connecting with the earth. An instant peace from within kind of something.
And if you’re a foodie…
…then definitely stop at one of the grocery stores along the 307 because the reality is that the Quebec stores have a variety and a larger selection of local artisan foods. Think exotic meat selections (bison, boar, kangaroo), large organic produce sections, and maple everything. Oh, and we even saw pre-made poutine in the frozen section – just sayin’.
Wrapping it up
If you’re looking for an easier family hike or a romantic escape, a trip out to chutes-de-denholm works. I would have never of known about this spot if it weren’t for a photography friend that found it during a country drive, you just never know what gems you’ll find near home! Alright, time to wrap it up and get packing for the next mountain adventure…