If you read this blog regularly, you might know that one of the hiking challenges I’m currently undertaking is the Rando Québec 75S Challenge. And after hiking the trail leading to the summit of La Tête Blanche last June, I returned to the Laurentians to follow another trail of the challenge: the Centenary Loop in Mont-Tremblant National Park.
I have only visited Parc National du Mont-Tremblant once before, a few years ago, to follow the Toit-des-Laurentides Trail. A difficult hike and not done in the best conditions, so I admit I was both excited and a little anxious to get back to the national park for a hike that I hoped would be a little less strenuous.
The starting point of the Centenary Loop is the same as that of the Toit-des-Laurentides Trail: the Sablonnière parking lot, in the Diable sector. So I found myself back in a familiar landscape and I was happy to step again in the beautiful Laurentian forest, which seemed a little more inviting than when I was last there.
Parc National du Mont-Tremblant was created in 1895, making it the oldest national park in Quebec (and one of the oldest parks in North America). In order to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the park in 1995, the Boucle du Centenaire was inaugurated on the slopes and the rocky ridges of La Vache Noire Mountain.
The trail begins gently in the beautiful mixed forest, first passing near La Sablonnière campground. It remains relatively flat during the first kilometre, and even offers a point of view on the Devil’s River (rivière du Diable). After two kilometres, the climb begins to be a little more sustained and the trail a little steeper and rockier.
It is at around the 2.5-kilometre mark that I arrived at the beginning of the loop. I decided to follow this loop clockwise, for no particular reason. The climb continued to be steady, sometimes winding up along the rocky cliffs. I found this section particularly pretty as many of the rock cliffs were covered in green moss.
And the lookouts also began to follow one another, offering views on mighty Pic Johannsen to the west, or Bagsly Lake to the east. As usual in the Laurentians, the landscapes were absolutely beautiful and reminded me why I love this region so much!
The trail continued to be interesting with several steep and rocky sections (but nothing too technical). The trail culminates at nearly 650 metres in elevation, near the northern summit of Vache Noire Mountain.
At one point, I crossed an intersection leading to the official summit of Vache Noire Mountain (which has an elevation of 750 metres). A few years ago, it was possible to follow a long loop that went to the top of the mountain and then back down to the road and the parking lot. However, a portion of this trail has been closed in recent years. It seems that it is still possible to go to the top of Vache Noire, but now you have to do the round trip from the Centenary Loop. I did not want to add additional kilometres to my hike that day, so I continued on my trail. The summit of Vache Noire will be for another time!
After yet more lookouts, the trail started to descend back into the forest. There were a few muddy sections there, but nothing impassable. I eventually reached the start of the loop, and all I had to do afterwards was retrace my steps towards the parking lot.
It was at this point in the hike that I started to meet a lot of other hikers. I had been lucky, by starting early I had the Centenary Loop and its lookouts almost all to myself on this gorgeous day. A chance that I appreciated even more when I realized how popular this trail is!
I finally made it back to the parking lot almost three hours after starting my hike. I covered a distance of almost 9.5 kilometres, with an elevation gain of 410 metres. Another successful hike in the Laurentians! And I can’t wait to come back and explore even more Mont-Tremblant National Park!