Take your pick: adrenaline packed or slow and contemplative?
We couldn’t wait to get started with this, our first long winter hike, which promised to be quite the challenge with a thermometer showing a frigid - 20 °C on December 19, 2019. But we didn’t mind. Every time we find ourselves inside Mont-Mégantic’s national park, we fall in love with the region’s mountain and forest landscapes all over again!
Our plan? To begin the trek at the Observatoire sector Welcome Centre, and head towards the Franceville sector Welcome Centre by taking a couple of detours to enjoy the most beautiful points of view the park has to offer.
Although the trail was covered with several centimetres of snow, which had fallen a couple of days earlier, and that snowshoes would have been the preferred option, our crampons were still efficient enough. We started our ascent towards Mont Saint-Joseph around noon. Knowing it would take us at least 5 to 6 hours to reach the Ruisseau-de-la-Montagne shelter, we had no time to waste. However, this didn’t stop us from admiring the views when they were worth it, nor to look inside the new shelter atop Mont Saint-Joseph, or to rest and warm up when we arrived at the Col des Trois Sommets shelter.
Once we had reached the summit, we started the long descent on the Traversée trail just before sunset. We were still able to reach the Franceville sector without using our headlamps even though darkness had begun to settle in. When we spotted the Ruisseau-de-la-Montagne shelter at about 13 kilometres from our starting point, we were quite happy to finally be able to warm ourselves inside!
The next morning, we relaxed and enjoyed the warmth of the fireplace. Instead of returning directly to the Welcome Centre, we took advantage of our time here and headed up the Cimes trail to admire the frost-covered trees on top of the Pic de l’Aurore. We finally completed our trek on the second day, early in the afternoon.
Enjoying the view from the ridge on top of Mont Saint-Joseph, with all the freshly fallen snow. It was spectacular!
The shelter, cozy and comforting after a day spent outside in the cold.
We recommend this trek for all intermediate to advanced hiking enthusiasts. The level is somewhat more difficult if, like us, you choose to take the two detours which will add an elevation of about 500 m to the route. However, there’s also a more direct way which eliminates going up any mountain tops. The views are less impressive, but the experience is just as pleasant, and, the route is more accessible for less advanced ramblers.
In the near future, we hope to hike up to the new shelter on top of Mont Saint-Joseph where we can’t wait to stay. We’re planning to do the long crossing of the park from the other direction, to compare the levels of difficulty, and simply for a new challenge. When it comes to taking advantage of the park, the possibilities are endless!
Here are the technical details for this amazing crossing:
Distance: Between 15 km and 21 km, depending on your choice of detours.
Ascension: Between 300 m and 850 m
Possible detours: Mont Mégantic, Mont Saint-Joseph, Mont Victoria, Pic de l’Aurore.
Important! To return to the starting point of the trek, you’ll need a second car or organize your transport with someone who won’t be hiking with you.
Photos : Ian Roberge from 4000 Hikes