Mont Tremblant is situated an hour and a half away from Montreal, a well known ski resort in winter, and in summer, a great place for hiking and camping. It’s a little confusing here in Quebec because there are the Canadian National Parks which are at a national level (Banff, Jasper, Mauricie, Thousand Islands…), and in Quebec, there are the “parcs nationaux” which are Quebec’s (regional) “national” parks (Mont Tremblant, Mont Orford, …). Another example of how Quebec seems in many ways to consider itself as a country functioning on its own. In 2017, free entrance was offered for the Canadian National Parks, but not for Quebec’s parks, which led to many bewildering moments for tourists!
We spent a three day long weekend here, which is a good length of time to stay. Late June / early July this year was a little morose, spring was insisting on staying around with her rainfalls and gloomy skies. Nothing daunted, we went camping anyway!
Mont Tremblant is divided into three main sectors: La Diable, Pimbina, l’Assomption. Maps and guides can be found at the visitor centers in each sector. During this trip, we stayed at Lac Lajoie in Pimbina, which is a rather quiet and isolated campground with no services and just a dry toilet by the campsite. Potable water was available at the visitor center (both hot and cold), the showers were not free, but there were outdoor showers near the Pimbina lake. Upon arrival, we set up camp and headed out to the nearby Chutes aux Rats for a picnic lunch. We then headed out east to l’Assomption for the day’s hiking.
Day 1 : L’Assomption
The road over to l’Assomption from inside the park was a dirt route, so the going was rather slow. We reached in the afternoon and managed to do two trails – Les Grandes Vallées and Le Lac d’Assomption.
Les Grandes Vallées overlook the forests to the east of the park, as well as Lac de l’Assomption herself, in a corner. The hike up took us half an hour and was not too difficult, and we met no one on the way.
Although the skies were rather cloudy, I felt that it lent to the charm of the mist and chill – the blue and green tones over mountains, valleys, forests, and lakes.
We then did a stop at the Lake of l’Assomption, where printed brochures can be found at the start of the trail explaining various habitats to be seen. The mosquitoes were attacking in all their frenzy in early summer and the stagnant water habitats and submerged-by-plants lakes didn’t help!
We survived, though, and were back to our campsite in time to prepare for dinner. Dinner was foil-wrapped fish and vegetables over the campfire before Lake Lajoie, serene in the dusk with glimmers of the remaining sinking sun rays over the water.
Day 2 : Diable
Miserably, it rained in the night, and we woke to the pitter-pattering on the tent (beginner tip: leave your hiking shoes in the car and not just under the hood of the tent!!). After a breakfast of peanut butter and bread, we got up the courage to head out for the day. We were rewarded by the sighting of a deer and two fawn bounding along the quiet road as we drove to La Diable sector!
The largest of the three sectors, La Diable has many trails and campgrounds around Lac Monroe. We chose to do the La Roche – La Coulée – La Corniche trio, starting and ending at the visitor center.
It was still raining a little when we started out. The trails were damp, the streams were full and gushing, we crossed almost nobody. La Roche was pretty steep but the trail was well maintained, and we soon reached the branching point where La Coulée continues to the right, and the viewpoint of La Roche was to the left.
La Roche’s viewpoint was for me the most majestic – mountains in the distance, huge lake just below us, and forests spreading out. Luckily, the drizzle died down and we could stay and wonder for a while.
La Coulée is not a serviced trail and the rain had turned much of the trail into a … coulée. With ups and downs, the trail winded through the mountainside for a good moment, before we burst back out with another viewpoint. The trek was, for me, just the right amount of challenging physically and interesting mentally – having to find the right places to step on, and to keep up a good pace in the cool post-rain weather!
La Corniche was an easy short walk back down to the roadside, which we would follow back to the visitor center. The trek would have taken us 3.5 hours in all. But first – a lucky glimpse of another deer, feeding in the lake and half hidden by the trees – we approached gently, as it watched us, half warily, but not too shocked either. It crossed the dirt route and moved on ahead – we stopped and waited, letting it find its place.
The last two stops of the day would be two waterfalls along the drive back – Chutes-Croches and Chute de Diable – both engorged by the rainfall.
La Chute du Diable was especially impressive, roaring and untamed, yellow water rushing over giant rocks and spraying nearly into our faces. To the right side, a quieter sister branch spilled over the edge and joined forces into the torrent that poured down into the lake.
Day 3 : Pimbina
Sun was in the works today, especially in the afternoon! We decided therefore to head up to l’Envol, one of the few hiking trails in the Pimbina sector with a viewpoint over the area. Once again, there was a brochure at the starting point which explained the flora found along the trail – due to the climate and elevation, it was a mix of maple and birch trees, along with various smaller plants in the undergrowth. With the time it took to read the brochure and admire the views at the top, the trek took about 2 hours in all.
In the afternoon, we rented a “canot” and headed out on the lakes. Pimbina is centered around three joint lakes – Pimbina, Provost, and Lajoie, where we’d been camping. The sun came out, we put our canot into the water, and off we were!
In the four hours we had, we managed to do a tour of Lajoie, Provost, the part of Pimbina that was in the park, and even a good part of the part of Lake Pimbina that was out of the national park. My favourite part was the little canal between Pimbina and Provost – the lake becomes a soft river meandering through weeds and forested banks – with dragonflies skimming along the water surface.
It’d been a good trip despite the rain we had – I left enamored by the beauty of the Laurentides forest and the many facets of Mother Nature.