I’ve enjoyed all of my Ontario hikes over the past few months, but I have to admit that I’ve been looking forward to more challenging hikes. This is the reason why when the opportunity to spend a hiking weekend with my sister-in-law Mireille presented itself, I opted to head for the Lanaudière region in Québec in order to hike as many mountains as possible. And we started with Mont Ouareau.
In fact, Mont Ouareau is probably the main reason I chose to go to Lanaudière. I had seen several photos of the trail (thank you, Instagram) and I put this mountain on my hiking bucket list a while ago. A short hike (less than 6 kilometres) giving access to magnificent views of the surrounding region, what better way to start a hiking trip!
Mireille and I therefore parked at the trailhead along Route 125, somewhere between Notre-Dame-de-la-Merci and Saint-Donat-de-Montcalm. We were pretty excited to hike to the top of our first “real” mountain in several months. There were several other cars in the parking lot so we knew the trail would likely be pretty busy, but at this point nothing could dampen our enthusiasm.
The first few metres on the trail may have been a bit more challenging than I would like to admit. Although I have done a lot of hikes in the past few weeks, they all have been on a mostly flat terrain and were not a big physical challenge. Mont Ouareau therefore put my calves and my cardio to the test.
But Mireille and I survived the deer flies hell in Mashkinonje Provincial Park a month ago, and I swear my aching muscles seemed a lot less painful.
Also the forest, made up mostly of maple trees, is very pretty and I really liked the trail, its roots and its big rocks. Let’s say you had to constantly watch where you set foot!
The name “Ouareau” (waro) comes from the Algonquin language and means “far away”. It comes from the lake of the same name found at the foot of the mountain (Lake Ouareau). Moreover, it is the view on this lake that makes the mountain famous. No matter how many photos I’ve seen of it, when I got to this first lookout, it still took my breath away. The clear blue of the lake, the green hills in the distance and the pines in the foreground; the image was so perfect it looked like a painting.
To our disappointment however, several other hikers had decided that they wanted to enjoy the view and made themselves comfortable with blankets and snacks, so there was a small crowd at the lookout. We didn’t stay there for long and we continued our ascent.
The trail eventually took us to the summit. Without being as spectacular as the view on the lake, the view at the top is still pretty. Mountains and lakes, as far as the eye can see. The scenery must be quite spectacular in autumn.
There were also several hikers resting at the summit (Mont Ouareau seems rather popular – thank you, Instagram) so we continued on our way. The trail at the top makes a short loop that brought us back to the main trail so we could start hiking down. Let’s say the descent was easier than the climb!
The Mont Ouareau trail is part of the National Trail (Sentier national), a long-distance trail that crosses all of Quebec province. This trail is indicated by red and white markers. From Mont Ouareau, it is therefore possible to extend your hike to Lake Lemieux, where there is, among other things, a refuge. Otherwise, just follow the blue and white markers at the top to complete the loop and retrace your steps back down the mountain!
Mont Ouareau :
Altitude : 692m
Ascension : 240m
Trail (loop) : 5.7km
Access : Parking lot on Route 125