This short image gallery documents a visit to the Montagnes Noires park in Ripon, Quebec, about an hour's drive east of Ottawa, 45 minutes northwest of Montreal, and not too far away from the Mont Tremblant area. We ended up visiting here after getting Covid-ed out of doing a multi-day Adirondacks Christmas break outing.
The park is quite small, perhaps 3 kilometres by 2 kilometres in area. Packed into that small area is a dense network of trails. There is a $10 per person parking fee, payable at each parking lot's kiosk - even in winter. Be sure to park in the particular parking lot where you drop your money envelope. It turns out that they check!
Map of the Montagnes Noires
Closeup, Montagnes Noires Trail map
We picked a big (big for this park) loop that circled from our P2 parking lot to the northern-most edge of the park, around the left edge, and then back along the spine of the highest terrain, which would allow us to visit the park's two major scenic attractions: an observation tower and a northern-facing lookout.
It was a fairly mild, still day - cloudy and with a few flurries. There was very little snow depth and we elected to leave our snowshoes in the car and just put traction aids on straight away.
We headed slightly downhill on easy trails. With the park's dense, close-in trail network, there were many junctions - but there is a lot of signage including little mini-maps at many of them. It is therefore fairly easy to keep your bearings even though you arrive at a new intersection seemingly every few minutes.
After some easy terrain at the north-west corner of the park, we turn south and begin the moderate incline up to the main high ridgeline, hiking along the "difficult" trail #7. Not sure about the difficult part, but it is enough to get you nice and warm and even a bit sweaty. In all it is about a 500-foot elevation gain from the low point to the top of the ridgecrest. So, nothing particularly crazy.
The ridgecrest is pleasant but still forested, and there are views only because wintertime has stripped the leaves from the trees. As a result, we can see through the bare trunks, over to the next forested ridgeline.
Very soon we descend steeply to a 4-way junction and can now see the observation deck on the next highpoint, visible through the trees, just ahead of us. A brief climb up to the highpoint and we are standing next to it. It is a very modern construction, stylish even. A steel staircase leads up to a wide deck where normally you can see all the way to Mont Tremblant. Today, with low clouds and light flurries, we can only see a few ridgelines into the distance. Still very pleasant, though.
It is a touch blustery in the open of the observation deck, and we don't stay too long. Returning to ground level, we continue east along trail #7 and the main ridgeline, soon coming to its eastern end and the Belvedere (the main non-tower lookout of the park), again with a very nice modern deck. And once again, no view of distant Mt Tremblant, due to the limited seeing conditions.
The Belvedere marks the second and last of our scenic viewpoints. From here we take trail #7 as it descends steeply northward, more or less heading back to our parking lot. Owing to the very small scale of this park, it is not long at all before the grade moderates and we begin to see the cars through the trees. The parking lot -- empty when we first arrived at 9:30 in the morning, now has quite a few cars. I guess folks that come to this park don't really like to get up too early (and they don't really need to, since it doesn't take much time to finish a loop here!)
All in all, a pleasant outing. The terrain isn't too different from Ottawa's Gatineau park or the Mont Tremblant area, but it is a nice addition to the array of choices that exist in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec.
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Montagnes Noires Loop - click map to view
Montagnes Noires Loop - Hike Data
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain:
Total Elevation Loss:
* : +/- 75 feet