A sunny late summer Saturday always signals the perfect time to go exploring and hiking. Having been interested for some time to see what all the fuss over the Lusk Caves was about, Ana and I ventured out to the Philippe Lake area to hike the trail and check out this unique attraction in Gatineau Park.
The Lusk Caves were created some 12,500 years ago from melting glacial waters. This melting water was forced into cracks of the Marble rock, eroding them more quickly than the other type of rock present, which led to the creation of the unique tunnels that are explorable today. To this day, water continues to stream through the cave, continuing this erosion and gradually shaping the cave. Exploring the cave is an experience all on its own, clearly, a fact recognized by the number of people visiting.
The Lusk Stream flows through the cave and as a result, exploration consists of passages of water, some dry and shallow, others with water levels as high as a metre or more. There are brief sections that are visible from above, along the Lusk Cave trail, but the majority is in the dark, so flashlights are a must.
Starting from the Parent Beach area, we chose Trail 50, which passes along the beaches and shores of the Philippe Lake area. You can experience various micro climates, some areas cool and refreshing, while others hot and humid. This trail is relatively easy to cross, as it is mostly flat with some slight hills and rolls. For the final third of the trail to the cave, the terrain becomes more hilly but still easy to navigate.
A famous deer from Disney's Bambi movie made a brief appearance along the trail.
After walking for about an hour, over a distance of approximately 4km, you arrive at the exit of the Lusk Cave. The exit is notable as it is almost entirely submerged underwater. People exiting have just enough room to pass with their heads out of the water.
Continuing past this point, and ascending the stairs, we head towards the main entrance to the cave, located 150 metres away and higher up in the mountain. The trail now takes us past several points where the rock opens up, allowing a view from above into the cave and those passing through it.
With the sound of running water becoming ever louder, we finally arrive at the entrance to the Lusk Cave. Here, plenty of people have set up camp and are preparing to venture through.
Here is a map, prepared by the NCC, showing the layout of the Lusk Cave, and illustrating the water levels found within.
Whether the goal is to explore the Lusk Cave or to simply enjoy the hike along the trail, this area is definitely worth a visit. The hike from the Parent Beach parking to the cave and back is 8.6km and takes about 3 hours to complete. From the beautiful scenery to amazing geological features, you will return home relaxed by nature, and exercised by adventure.