It had been a few months since I had visited the Laurentians and with all the snow that had fallen in the last few days, I thought it was the perfect time to go back! And since last year I really enjoyed my snowshoe hike at Mont Loup-Garou, I decided to visit another park in Sainte-Adèle: the Parc de la Rivière Doncaster.
In addition, the Doncaster River Park is on the list of hikes to be done as part of Rando Québec’s 75S challenge, a challenge I signed up for last year. So it was the perfect opportunity for me to put my snowshoes on and to add another hike of the challenge to my list!
The Doncaster River is a small tributary of the Rivière du Nord which passes through Sainte-Adèle, in the Laurentians. A dam and a power station were built there at the beginning of the 20th century and were used to supply Sainte-Adèle with electricity. In 1975, deteriorating more and more and being no longer profitable, the timber line and the power station were demolished.
Hydro-Québec and the city of Sainte-Adèle worked together to create the Doncaster River Park to showcase the river and the former dam site. Today there are nearly 10 kilometres of hiking trails in the park. I decided I would follow the route suggested by the 75S challenge, thus starting my hike with Grand Remous Trail.
Grand Remous (Big Swirl) Trail runs along the Doncaster River, offering some views of it. And I understood why the trail had this name! If the river had been quiet under its cover of ice at the park entrance, as I progressed along it on the trail, it became a little noisier and more active.
Grand Remous Trail took me to a small wooden bridge that allowed me to cross the Doncaster River. There are different trail options starting from here. I followed the Panorama Trail, which brought me deeper into the forest.
To my surprise, the Panorama Trail made me gain elevation quickly (it was a good workout for my calves). I left the river behind me and was treated to typical Laurentian terrain: a rugged and varied course in a pretty mixed forest.
The Panorama Trail may be so named because it passes by a lookout. Although this lookout overlooks a power line and therefore is not particularly photogenic… (but is a good reminder of the park’s past)!
After the lookout, I continued to follow the Panorama Trail, which took me up and down small hills through the forest. Then I came to an intersection and decided to follow the Grande Ascension (Great Ascent) Trail. As the name suggests, this trail goes up to the top of a small mountain and leads to another lookout, so there was no way I was going to miss this opportunity!
The climb is very easy at first, then it became steeper as I got closer to the summit. I admit that I had to stop a few times to catch my breath, but the effort was worth it because the view at the top was very beautiful! This is why I love hiking in the Laurentians: there’s a good chance the trail will bring you somewhere where you can enjoy a stunning view!
I went back down the same trail, then I followed the directions that brought me back to the park entrance. I could have extended my hike and followed the Doncaster River to the old dam, but my legs were starting to get tired. And I had accomplished my missions for the day: I had hiked the 75S route and I had enjoyed this magnificent winter day in the Laurentians!
In all, I snowshoed 5 kilometres, with an elevation gain of 162 metres. The trails are well marked. Snowshoes or crampons are recommended in winter. There is an entrance fee to pay (but access to the park is free for residents of Sainte-Adèle).
PS – Apparently the Doncaster River Park is also a really popular place for trout fishing in the summer!