Meech Lake is one of the top beach destinations in Ottawa and has been since I was a kid. A huge lake with two main beaches, O’brien beach and Blanchet beach, a hidden nudie beach, the nearby Carbide Wilson Ruins and hiking trails, it’s no wonder it’s such a popular Ottawa swimming spot.
O’Brien Beach on Meech Lake
O’Brien Beach is a pretty small beach located in Alexander Bay on Meech Lake in Gatineau Park. The north shore of the bay features the Wilson House overlooking the lake and the O’Brien house a little deeper in the woods, both Government of Canada buildings that have been used for meetings and retreats in the past, including the infamous Meech Lake Accord.
Key services at O’Brien beach include:
- lifeguards on duty from 10 am to 6 pm during the summer,
- dry toilets
- change rooms
- paid parking is available ($11/day) at P11
Blanchet Beach at Meech Lake
Blanchet Beach is the second of two beaches on Meech Lake, located in the Municipality of Chelsea within the Gatineau Park.
Key services include lifeguards on duty from 10 am to 6 pm during the summer; and dry toilets and change rooms. Paid parking is available.
Two great hikes depart right from the parking lots of each beach – the gorgeous Carbide Wilson ruins and waterfall hike from P11 at O’Brien beach, and the more challenging but scenic Wolf Trail from P13 at Blanchet beach.
North along the shore from O’Brien beach is Lawless bay, which feeds through a berm into what is locally referred to as Little Meech Lake. That lake then drains down, forming the waterfalls at teh Carbide Wilson ruins and then into Meech Creek, which runs northwest for quite a while before splitting and emptying into various bodies of water.
Little Meech Lake is also popular with naturalists, so be prepared for some nudity (mostly men) on a hot summer day.
Things to note:
- Water quality at NCC beaches is tested every two weeks by the NCC. You can view the water quality results at the NCC website.
- Note that alcoholic beverages and pets are not permitted on the NCC beaches.
- Pets are not permitted
- There are no concessions nearby