Saint-Donat – Cap de la Fée trail and a worthwhile detour

After our hike to the summit of the Montagne Noire in Saint-Donat-de-Montcalm, my sister-in-law Mireille and I decided to do another hike, as we still had energy and time. There is another trail accessible from Chemin Régimbald, about ten kilometres north of the Montagne Noire trail: the Cap de la Fée trail.

Although lower than Montagne Noire, Cap de la Fée (literally Cape Fairy) still reaches a height of 625 metres and offers a lovely view of Lake Archambault and the charming village of Saint-Donat. In addition, the trail makes a loop, which seemed to us the ideal type of hike to conclude the day.

Cap de la Fée trail
Going up, once again!

As soon as we arrived at the trailhead, we decided to follow the trail clockwise, starting with the steeper section leading directly to the summit, before descending via the easier section following a stream called Ruisseau de la Fée. As we had already hiked more than 12 kilometres to the summit of Montagne Noire a few hours earlier, we wanted to reach the top of Cap de la Fée faster, while we still had energy, before hiking back via the longer route.

Also, our attention had been drawn to a portion of the trail labeled “Détour qui en vaut la peine” (translation: a Worthwhile Detour) on the map, so we figured we would end our hike with this famous detour, which apparently would be worth it.


So we headed for the top of Cape Fairy. The rather wide trail seemed much less difficult than that of the Montagne Noire and that of Mont Ouareau. A little less exciting too. The forest, made up first of maples, then of conifers as we got closer to the top, is nevertheless pretty. The trail was busy, which I guess is normal considering it was a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

Trail in Saint-Donat
Somewhere on the way to Cap de la Fée

The last 300 metres before reaching the summit are a little steeper. The trail winds up through the pines, before finally reaching the rocky ridge and the summit of Cap de la Fée.

The arrival at the top was a little disappointing… Yes, the view is very pretty but it was rather difficult to enjoy it because a small group had already assembled there. And since these hikers seemed to be well settled with meals and drinks, we figured it was better to continue on our way rather than wait until the summit was less busy. The trails around Saint-Donat are definitely popular!

Summit of Cap de la Fée
Too late to beat the crowds

We therefore came back down, this time taking the easier path which passes close to the Grand-Duc shelter and Lac Coutu. This portion of the trail was a bit steeper, a bit more muddy too, but definitely prettier than the previous section. We passed by the lake and near the shelter (the Saint-Donat shelters are definitely superb!), before arriving at a small wooden footbridge that crosses the stream Ruisseau de la Fée.

Cap de la Fée trail
The summit might have been crowded, but the trail is so pretty

The hike continued along the stream, with the sound of the water accompanying us. When we finally reached the small waterfall (another rather photogenic spot on the trail), we then had the choice: to continue following the trail towards the parking lot or take the “Worthwhile Detour”.

Of course, we chose the detour.

I am still not quite sure why this trail has such a name. This “detour” is neither particularly difficult nor particularly extraordinary.

But this was the only part of the trail where we did not meet any other hiker. And I have to admit that in the fading daylight, the path winding between the big rocks and the old trees and their exposed roots had a little je-ne-sais-quoi. I can’t explain why this detour was worth it, but it was worth it.

The worthwhile detour
A worthwhile detour

With Mont Ouareau, Montagne Noire and Cap de la Fée, the region of Saint-Donat has definitely spoiled us for our hiking weekend!

Cap de la Fée:
Altitude : 625m
Ascension : 270m
Trail (loop) : 6-8km
Access : Parking on chemin Régimbald

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