The YellowBox summit had been our loop's highpoint, and as we hiked west, we gradually descended. We also began to see more people, but no hikers: instead, this area seemed to be the domain of trail runners, and there were quite a lot of them, sometimes in fairly large groupings.
The "crest" type terrain gradually faded and gave way to straight forest, although at times we hiked through very beautiful open glades of trees. There was the occasional stream crossing at the outlet of an escarpment-top marsh or pond. We also began to encounter quite a few herd path junctions, and it took some careful consulting of our pre-trail notes to determine which way to go in order to stay on our desired loop path. I've documented each junction with a picture, a location on my interactive track map, and a few words about whether to turn left or right.
As we walked along the soft forest floor, I could see why this area was popular with runners. the trail was essentially un-eroded, mostly free of mud and boulders, and was in large part quite smooth and free of roots and such. It makes for an ideal low-impact running surface.
After many twists and turns (and a neat beaver dam and some very cool trailside rock seats), we arrived at another section of escarpment edge. The best spot along this section is a spot known as Panorama Point, and it truly is an excellent spot. The escarpment drops away particularly steeply here, creating an especially airy viewpoint with an excellent 270-degree span of view. Panorama Point is very fitting, and this is the best viewpoint along this loop.
Rustic trailside rest spot
Superb Ottawa Valley View
A bit of final crest-walking
After taking in the views at Panorama Point, it was time for the final hike to the end of the loop. A bit more escarpment edge walking soon gave way to a descent through shady forest, and perhaps twenty-five minutes later, we emerged at the parking lot and the car. Five and a half hours and about fourteen kilometres in total, making for a solid medium-length hike.
Final descent through trees
My assessment, in summary? This loop is a really nice way to get away from the main Gatineau Park hiking crowds. While it doesn't have a ton of lookouts, it does have enough to keep you occupied, and there's one that is particularly great (Panorama Point). There's some nice variety, from field walking along the edge of broad fields at the base of the escarpment, to the steep and continuous climb up to the YellowBox summit, and the pleasant crest walking back west. You do have to pay attention to all of the various turns you need to make at many un-marked junctions, so if you like navigation, that part is fun.
A worthwhile addition to the roster of Gatineau Park hikes.
Interactive trackmap with photo points - YellowBox Loop - click map to view
YellowBox Trail Loop - Hike Data
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain:
Total Elevation Loss:
* : +/- 75 feet