© Moulin Wakefield


by Maureen Littlejohn ??????????????????? Ottawa has a dream backyard. Gatineau Park, a mere 15-minute drive northwest of downtown, is 361 sq. km of scenic forests, lakes, trails and lookout points. Canada?s 10th prime minister, Mackenzie King, played here in the 1930s and built a number of cottages that are open to the public. Most people, though, visit the area to get physical, not political ? in spring and summer it draws hikers, trail bikers, campers and paddlers. $8/car for day pass, $9 for ?????????????????????????????????????????? ? ??? After a day of cycling or hiking through hilly terrain, a restful stay at the luxurious Wakefield Mill Inn & Spa (?????????????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????????????????) is in order. The inn is in the quaint town of Wakefield, which borders the north end of the park. Originally built as a flour mill in 1838, it now offers 27 rooms furnished with fireplaces and Jacuzzi tubs, and a dining room with French and Québécois cuisine. Nestled next to a 28-ft waterfall, the inn?s five-room spa offers a signature Le Jardin body wrap (????????????) with seawater and essential oils to revitalize the skin. ? ???? Park guests typically stop at the Mackenzie King Tearoom (?????????????????? ?????????????????????????????????????) at Moorside, one of King?s former cottages. After scones and sandwiches you can stroll through the estate?s gardens, which feature ruins that King collected from Westminster Abbey. If Earl Grey isn?t your cuppa tea, there are a number of nearby restaurants. Café Pot-au-Feu (??????????? ??????????????????) is a riverside establishment in a former train station. They serve delicious stick-to-the-ribs fare such as tourtière and stroganoff. In the evening, the pub at the Black Sheep Inn (???????????????????????????????????) is the place to go for libations and first-rate performers. ? ????? CYCLING ? There are 90 km of glorious trails, and during the summer the main road is closed to cars on Sundays until 11 a.m., so cyclists rule. Mountain bikes can be rented at the Philippe Lake campground general store (????????????????? ?????????????????). HIKING ? Explore 165 km of trails, some multi-purpose for cyclists, as well. The short but scenic 2.5-km King Mountain Trail has a spectacular view of the Ottawa River Valley 300 m below, and the 2.5-km Pink Lake Trail skirts an emerald-green lake. Despite its colour (from algae that live near the surface), it takes its name from the Pink family who used to own property in the area. SPELUNKING ? Otherwise known as ?cave exploring.? Flashlights and water shoes are needed along the 12-km Lusk Cave Trail. PADDLING ? Canoe, row or kayak on La Pêche Lake, Philippe Lake and Meech Lake (the famous spot where the country?s 10 premiers played constitutional tugof-war in 1987). The first two offer rentals (???????) SWIMMING ? Philippe Lake has four good beaches. When the three at the north end get crowded, head to the south end where there?s a quieter spot. © Pretty River Inn


by Maureen Littlejohn ?????????????? Planking down snowy slopes may be the first image that comes to mind when you think of Collingwood. But the area known as the Georgian Triangle, including the towns of Creemore and Stayner, offers plenty to do in the summer, too. There?s hiking, biking, sailing, swimming, treetop walking and spelunking. Added highlights include an annual Elvis festival, acclaimed brewery and outdoor, Scandinavian-style spa. ????????????? ?? ??????????????????????????????? ? ??? On the edge of Pretty River Provincial Park, near Stayner, awaits the Pretty River Valley Country Inn (?????? ????? ???? ? ????????????? ?? ??????????????????). Fireplaces ? for those cool nights ? grace each of the 11 guest rooms, suites and two-storey ?crofts? (honeymoon-style hideaways with Jacuzzis and balconies). Mingle with other guests in the Great Room, float in the saltwater pool or soak in the hot tub that overlooks an outdoor terrace. Here, you can also hang out with the locals since the inn is home to reindeer as well as Percheron and miniature Icelandic horses. An environmentally friendly property, the inn?s garden and apple orchard use no pesticides. And don?t sleep in too late: Delicious country breakfasts are included in the price of a room. To refresh, revitalize and detox, head to Scandinave Spa (???????????????? ?????????????????????????????????). The steam bath and sauna, followed by plunges in outdoor cold and hot water pools, take care of aches and pains and get the blood moving. ? ??? Collingwood?s Stuffed Peasant (?????? ????? ???? ?? ????????????? ?? ??????????????????) is a little 28-seater that?s been hopping since it opened last November. The interior décor is sleek and modern and the menu features comfort foods such as cassoulet (lamb shank, sausage, pancetta and white beans), steak frites, roasted chicken breast and lasagna. On weekends, it?s best to call for a reservation. In Stayner, the Fud Main Street Bistro (?????? ?????????????????????????????????????????????????) is also less than a year old but is steadily building a reputation for its delicious homemade soups, massive half-pound burgers, steaks and cheesecake. ? ???? BIKING ? 60 km of multi-use trails lace through Collingwood on the Collingwood Trail Network (???????????????????????????????????), and bikes for all terrains can be rented at Little Ed?s Ski & Bike Shop (?????? ????? ?? ??????????????????????????????????????) at Cranberry Resort. HIKING ? Pretty River Valley Provincial Park (???????????????????????????? com) is 1,032 hectares in size and is one of the highest points on the Niagara Escarpment. Marked trails include the Bruce Trail, which passes through the park. KAYAKING ? Paddle the picturesque coastline of lower Georgian Bay to beaches, islands and shipwrecks. The Mary Ward lies at the bottom of Nottawasaga Bay, northeast of Collingwood. For rentals, try Gyles Sails & Marine (???????? ?? ????????????? ?? ??????????????) in Thornbury, about 20 km east of Collingwood. BEER TASTING ? Creemore Springs Brewery (???????????????????? ?? ????????????) offers daily free tours and tasting sessions. Fans are called Frothquaffers. ????????????????????????????????????????????????15

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