It had been a while since I last hiked in the Laurentians, so I was really excited when I hit the road on a sunny Sunday morning to head to the Centre de plein air de l’UQAM. My goal: to hike to the top of the Tête Blanche Mountain and follow a trail that is part of the 75S Challenge.
It’s funny, because even though I studied at UQAM, I had no idea until recently that my alma mater had an outdoor centre in the Laurentians. It is located on the banks of the Archambault River in Lac-Supérieur, not far from Mont-Tremblant. The centre offers cabins, campsites and over 25 kilometres of hiking trails.
The trail that leads to the summit of La Tête Blanche is located on the north side of Chemin du Lac Quenouille. UQAM students can access the centre for free, but since I haven’t been a student for a long time, I paid for my daily access and headed on the trail.
It is possible to reach the top of La Tête Blanche (French for The White Head) by following a 9-km loop that goes through a pretty deciduous forest (where there is a lot of maple trees). You must first follow the La Grise Trail, which quickly climbs from the first metres. The trail was rocky in places, but nothing too complicated. And as often on the trails of the Laurentians, I came across large erratic blocks in places.
La Grise Trail passes near a cabin where a group of people were slowly starting their day, but other than that, the trail remained very quiet throughout my hike (I only met one another hiker the whole time I was there).
It also seemed to me that the trail didn’t have so many indications. There were a few markers here and there, but during the first kilometre, I wondered a few times if I was going in the right direction, and if I was on the right trail.
Fortunately, I finally came across a sign indicating that I was indeed still on La Grise Trail. Then, after nearly two kilometres, I arrived at the intersection with the La Tête Blanche Trail, and I followed this one.
It’s interesting to note that even though this trail is named after the mountain I was heading towards, it is not the one that leads to the summit. This trail makes a loop on the side of the mountain, and eventually returns to La Grise Trail. It seemed much less traveled than the trail I had just left, and I occasionally lost track of it under the leaves.
The trail was relatively flat for a bit and then started to climb quite quickly. After a good climb, I arrived at the intersection of another trail, the Circuit du Sommet (Summit Circuit), a loop that would take me to the top of the mountain.
The climb was continuous from this point. Without being extremely difficult, it seemed long to me. Every time I felt like I was getting close to the summit, I realized there was still some more to go. It was also very hot and the mosquitoes were quite voracious, so I was hoping for a good breeze at the top.
But I ended up being a bit disappointed when I reached the top. I imagine that a few years ago, the view might have been unobstructed, but when I was there, it was not possible for me to see much of the Laurentian landscape.
But I had still reached the top of La Tête Blanche, at an elevation of 700 metres. It’s still not bad! And a few metres further on, as the trail began its descent, the view opened up a bit, allowing me to catch a glimpse of the mountainous landscape of Lac-Supérieur.
The descent wasn’t too difficult (the trail was dry so easy to navigate quickly on the way down). I eventually reached again La Grise Trail. It is possible to extend your hike by following this trail to the top of the Montagne Grise (technically, it is even possible to do a long hike to the Montagne Noire via the Inter-Centre network), but I had reached my goal for the day, and I decided to return to the trail head. I can always tackle Montagne Grise at another time!
In all, my hike totaled just over 9 kilometres, with an elevation gain of 487 metres. I may not have been treated to a majestic view at the top of the mountain, but I was able to fully enjoy the tranquility of the trail and the beauty of the Laurentian forest!