Pink Lake

Photo of Pink Lake surrounded by forests
Pink Lake

Pink Lake is Gatineau Park’s most unique lake because it is “meromictic.” Of rare beauty, the site offers the opportunity to relax while learning about its ecology. Despite its name, the lake is green. It is named after the Pink family which settled the land in 1826.

A Meromictic Lake

The lake is meromictic, meaning that, unlike a normal lake, its upper and lower water levels never mix. Normally a lake’s water mixes completely each year during the spring and fall and because of water density, water and air temperature, and the wind. The mixing of lake waters distributes nutrients and oxygen evenly throughout the lake.

Pink Lake’s waters do not mix because it has a small surface and bowl-like shape and is surrounded by steep cliffs that protect it from the wind. This is why it is called “meromictic.” There is no oxygen in the deepest seven metres of the lake.

Life in Pink Lake

With no oxygen at the bottom of Pink Lake, there is only one organism that lives in its depths — an anaerobic prehistoric organism. It is a pink photosynthetic bacterium that uses sulphur instead of oxygen when it transforms sunlight into energy.

Pink Lake is also home to the three-spined stickleback fish, a salt water fish left behind by the Champlain Sea that used to cover the region. This little saltwater fish adapted to the lake’s gradual desalination and today lives in the lake’s fresh water.

Why is Pink Lake Green?

The magnificent greenish tint to the waters of Pink Lake is caused by the growth of microscopic algae. Even though it’s spectacularly beautiful, it is very harmful. The vegetation gradually takes over the oxygen, suffocating the lake. This natural process called “eutrophication” can stretch out to many thousands of years.

Unfortunately, the popularity of Pink Lake with Park visitors over the years sped up this process. The algae grew to the extent that eutrophication would have taken only a few decades. To preserve the lake for future generations, we have rehabilitated the site by building some platforms and a trail to limit the damage caused by erosion. Volunteers also helped plant 10,000 small trees.

You can do your part to preserve Pink Lake by staying on the trail and by not picking flowers or capturing animals. Dogs and pets are not permitted on the Pink Lake trail.

Help us protect Gatineau Park and leave no trace.

Washrooms There are dry toilets by the Pink Lake Trail.
Parking There is free parking by the Pink Lake lookout and by the trail.
Universal Accessibility The Pink Lake lookout is universally accessible, as is a short section at the beginning of the Pink Lake Trail.

For more information see Gatineau Park’s visitor information.