It's been a while since I have written up a hiking trip report, mostly because I haven't done a lot of hiking since the move, but I did manage to check out one of my old stomping grounds with an old friend, the Luskville Falls trail in Pontiac, Quebec, part of the Eardley Escarpment in the western sector of Gatineau Park.
Luskville Falls Trail Stats
Time: 1.5-2 hours
Net Elevation Gain: 303 metres
Season: Spring to fall
A Moderate Hike for Newbies and Experienced Hikers Alike
Having spent the last 19 years on the west coast, I was worried that coming back to hikes in Ontario and western Quebec might not be as interesting with so much less vertical. I was happy when my friend Ian suggested the Luskville Falls hike, mostly because it was one I had done several times in my teens and twenties, and thought that, at the very least, it would have nostalgic value. It had that and more.
The hike itself is short, quite short by BC standards, but it takes on a decent amount of vertical in just over 2km. Being on the Eardley Escarpment, there are a couple of unique rock features that capture your attention. The trail itself is easy to follow and its natural features not too hard to navigate for novice hikers, while the vertical gives more experienced hikers something more to chew on, especially if they take a faster pace.
Regardless of your hiking experience, you can expect to get a solid cardio workout. It's probably not the best choice of hike for people who have mobility issues, or aren't in good cardio shape. And if you find it a little outside your comfort zone, you can take comfort in the fact that it’s only around 2km to the top of the loop then it’s all downhill from there. There is also one spot where you can splash a little water from the stream on your face to cool off, even in the driest season, and take the edge of the heat.
Waterfall or Water Trickle?
Depending on the time of year you go, the Luskville Falls can be very different indeed. We went in mid-July, so there wasn’t much water left to fall, just the barest trickle. I wouldn’t have even know that that was the site of the waterfall if not for the placard denoting its presence. From what I’ve read, the spring is the nicest time to check out the waterfall, when they more than earn the right to be called that.
It certainly would also be nicer in terms of temperature, which occurred to us as we quickly drank up what we had carried in our water bottles, choosing to hike on one of the hottest days of the year at one of the hottest times of day. Lesson learned. Thankfully, most of the hike is under trees and the shade helped to alleviate the starting symptoms of heat exhaustion, that and the fact that it just isn’t that long a hike and as soon as you’re feeling just about cooked, you’re back at the car.
Awesome Views of the Ottawa Valley
The best rewards of this hike are the views of the Ottawa Valley. From two main openings along top part of the escarpment, the Lusk Lookout, named for Joseph Lusk, an Irish pioneer who came to Canada in 1820 and became a prosperous farmer in the region, and the Pontiac Lookout (named in honour of Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa Nation). From both of these places, you can see for miles. You can see rich clay plains, farms, rivers, fields and forests well into the distance. It helps that the valley is just so darn flat. And there is plenty of space where you can sit and take a load off, have a snack and admire the view.
The Anti-Climactic Fire Tower
The fire tower marks the end of the Luskville Falls trail. It is a “well-known heritage element” of Gatineau park. The surrounding area is quite dry and prone to forest fires. The tower was built in the 1940s so that forest rangers could be posted there to watch for signs of of them starting. It was used until other methods replaced it in the 70s. And that’s about all there is to its historical importance. The fire tower is fenced off so you can’t even go up if you wanted to. As far as heritage sites go, this fire tower is a far cry from the historic importance of places I visited on hikes in BC, like the Tikwalus Heritage trail that is steeped in First Nations history, along with the fascinating stories of the HBC’s attempt to use it as a route for fur trading. Read my trip report of the Tikwalus Heritage Trail, my final hike before Chris and I left BC to move back to Ottawa.
Regardless of the anti-climactic end to the trail, it is definitely a good one, one I'm glad we chose to revisit. The next time, I'll try to go when the falls are a little more active, perhaps late fall or early spring.
Now over to you. Have you hiked the Luskville Falls Trail? What did you think of it? Please share your thoughts in the comments so we can all benefit from them.