I think we tend to forget that the Outaouais region is an amazing playground for hikers, and that it has plenty of interesting trails, beyond the popular Gatineau Park! I had a lot of fun last summer discovering beautiful trails in the Duhamel area (Mount Kajakokanak, among others) and last weekend, I went to explore Parc régional du Mont Morissette for the first time.
Located near Blue Sea, in the heart of the Gatineau Valley, Mount Morissette Regional Park covers an area of 589 hectares and has six hiking trails. It is best known for its mountain and the observation tower found at the summit. And I couldn’t wait to see the famous view at the top!
There is a parking lot near the summit, but since I wanted to visit the regional park first and foremost to do some hiking, I decided to park at the base of the mountain, and to follow Trail 1, which would take me directly to the top.
The summit of Mount Morissette rises to a height of 400 metres, a height that is not negligible for the region. But the climb did not seem very difficult to me. The trail was winding and climbing gently in a pretty mixed forest. There were even some interpretive signs along the trail with some information on the fauna and flora of the area.
Trail 1 isn’t very long (including the short loop at the top, it’s 1.4 kilometres). So it didn’t take me long to reach the summit. There, you can find a refuge, an old fire tower, and a 18-metre high panoramic observation tower.
The fire tower was built in the 1930s and served as an observation platform so that forest fires could be detected quickly. At one time, there were more than 500 fire towers across the province of Quebec. In the 1960s, these were gradually replaced by aerial surveillance, and the vast majority of the fire towers were destroyed.
The fire tower of Blue Sea was, however, saved by a local man. Clément Tremblay bought the land at the top of Mount Morissette to prevent the fire tower from being demolished. His family handed over the land to the municipality in 2005. The old fire tower now bears his name.
The old fire tower is no longer accessible, but it is possible to climb to the top of a newly built observation tower, located right next to it, in order to have a 360 degree view of the surroundings.
And what a view! I had seen photos before coming to visit the place, but I still found the landscape impressive. You can clearly see the magnificent Blue Sea Lake as well as several other mountains of the Outaouais and the upper Laurentians
After taking a short break at the top of the tower, I came back down and resumed my hike. There is another lookout on Trail 1, offering yet another view of Blue Sea Lake and its surroundings. I could afterwards have hiked back down to the parking lot by retracing my steps on Trail 1, but I decided to lengthen my hike by going down by Trail 2.
Trail 2 is 4.6 kilometres long and does a large loop around Mount Morissette. It passes through various forest habitats and even skirts a beaver pond. I didn’t find it too difficult, but it does have a few slight climbs and descents.
I finally made it back to the parking lot after hiking almost 7 kilometres. There are 4 other trails, located in the southern part of the park, which allow you to explore the forest in greater depth and to walk around Lac à Laurier. But I had reached my goal for the day, to hike to the summit of Mount Morissette, and I promised myself that I would come back at another time to explore the other trails!