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Some visitors also try their skills on the increasingly popular snowshoe trails. "If you know how to walk, you know how to snowshoe!" advised Gatineau Park spokesman, Louis-Rene Senechal. "All you have to do is grab your snowshoes, drive up to the park, step on the trails and go!"

Be on the lookout for white-tailed deer or a hare - or listen out for the hoot of an owl or the gentle persistent beat of a woodpecker. But do not worry - the bears will still be sleeping.

More information:

Winterlude guide: www.canadascapital.gc.ca/winterlude

Dow's Lake (www.dowslake.com): A rest and relaxation area with bars, restaurants and a place to rent skates and sleighs.

A winter sports mecca would not be the same without downhill skiing. Four well-established resorts - Camp Fortune (www.campfortune.com), Vorlage (www.skivorlage.com), Mont Cascades (www.montcascades.ca) and Edelweiss (www.edelweissvalley.com) - are nearby, featuring a good range of beginner, intermediate and expert machine-groomed slopes with hardpacked snow. Though the hills are relatively small, it is all about location, location, location: the resorts are just a 15-25 minute drive away from Parliament Hill.

 

 

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