Kenauk Nature in Montebello: Hiking Guide

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“What’s a matter Mel, can make it up the little hill!?” Bah ha ha ha, wheeeeeeze, ha ha. “Guess who doesn’t have micro spikes ooooon” I said mockingly to my hiking buddy as she struggled with staying upright while hiking the steep incline of trail #10. Literally hopping from tree to tree since under that fresh blanket of snow was a good layer of ice.

It’s amazing we’re still friends since I wasn’t only crying with sooooo much laughter, but also recording as she was on the struggle bus trying to get up that incline. I mean, this video could make us millions on YouTube. 😉 All kidding aside, we laughed so much this weekend that our cheeks hurt with great memories. Thank you Kenauk Nature for the incredible experience.

Kenauk Nature is graced with some wonderful hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing trails.

Good Company

It is amazing how true the oh-so-trendy “disconnect to connect” really is. With no cell signal and no wifi, my hiking buddy Mel and I were able to have some really great conversations, laugh to our hearts content, and occupy our time with more fulfilling endeavors. Cooking fresh meals, reading, playing cards, hiking, exploring local shops and stops. It really gave space for creative thinking, thoughtfulness, and personal insights.

The Low Down

  • Distance: An easy 90 km (roughly 1hr 20 min) drive from downtown Ottawa.
  • Address: 1000 Chemin Kenauk, Montebello, QC J0V 1L0
  • Directions: Hwy 417 East after St-Laurent, take the split to Hwy 174 East. Approx 8 kms past Orleans, at the lights, turn left from Hwy 17 to the Cumberland/Masson Ferry (24hrs operation, 10$ cash only per vehicle). Exiting the ferry, continue straight then turn right (east) on Main St. / Hwy 148 East. Drive through Thurso, Plaisance, Papineauville, and finally Montebello. Just pass Montebello, turn left (north) on Cote Angele. Follow signs for Kenauk Nature.
  • Cellphone Range: At the main reception and high points only.
  • Number of hiking trails: 6 + 1 trail that is 100kms + 2 short waterfall trails.
  • Trail Distance: 1.6 to 8.5 kms
  • Elevation Gain: up to 180m (trail #10)
  • Dogs: TBC
  • Crowds: Low traffic on trails during winter.
  • Cabin rentals: available onsite.
  • Washrooms: Main reception and at lac poisson blanc.
  • Entrance fee: TBC
  • Season: Open 0900-1700hrs daily.
  • More information: Visit the Kenauk Nature website for more information.

What to bring

Besides the 10 essentials and what I would normally suggest for hikes, here are the highlights for this particular hike:

  • Bear bell/spray: There are bears and other wildlife in the area. So if you’re hiking solo or in a small group, then a bear bell and/or spray is advised.
  • Bug spray: Lakes + forest = all the bugs….so bring all the bug spray.
  • Tip #1: turn your cellphone on ‘airplane mode’ during the hike to save battery power, that way you won’t run out for a) emergencies and b) all-the-pics.
  • Tip #2: In the winter, either put your keys between your base and insulating layer, or warm them up in your mitt on the hike out. The batteries in newer key fobs tend to not work when cold…and you have issues starting the car. Warm the key fob, and place in directly against the push start button to start.

Ondago

If you’re able, download Ondago. It is a free map that hosts both trails and cabin maps for Kenauk Nature. Once downloaded, the GPS in the app works even when offline to help guide you on the trails.

The main office also has printed trail maps available.

Trail # 10

The trailhead starts 14.5 kms from the front gate, between Makwa and Wilson cabins on the right (east) side. It is clearly marked with a trail information board. Trail #10 is 8.5kms with an approx. 180m elevation gain. This trail is rated as difficult. We completed this hike in 3.5 hrs during the winter.

The trail itself is well marked, 1-2 persons wide, and crosses many streams. It is a steady incline until you reach the lookout. Along the way you’re hiking through an area that is wooded with brush.

Once at the lookout, the trail splits. The sign has a written ‘the tower’ on one of the yellow arrows. The other direction, south, is what you take to hike the full loop on the return from the tower.

The trail to the tower has slight decline again, followed by a stream crossing before the final incline up to the observation tower.

The observation tower is a typical wood and metal structure offering 360′ views from the top. You can spot Mont Tremblant off in the distance! During the winter, the tower windows may be frosted (like it was for us) – giving an obstructed view.

These towers are not for those who are afraid of heights, and although sturdy, climbing them is at your own risk.

Trail #1

With approximately half the distance and half the elevation gain, we saved Trail #1 for Sunday after checkout. Figuring it would be an easy enough one to quickly enjoy before going home.

Trail #1 is about 4.5kms total, with multiple elevation points, and is rated as intermediate.

The trail head is located about 1 km from the front gate on the right (east) side. There a wooded structure with the trail map and room enough for 1-2 vehicles to park.

The trail is very wide and easy to define which is great since the trail markers are more spread out on this one. It starts with a steady gentle incline and takes you through multiple elevation points and a water crossing.

On the final incline you can see the break in the trees before you notice the tower itself. This observation tower it higher that the one on trail #10 and also offers 360′ views (great spot for sunrise!) with the Adirondacks in the distance on a clear day.

These towers are not for those who are afraid of heights, and although sturdy, climbing them is at your own risk.

Trail #2

One of the two waterfalls on the property, trail #2 is a short and easy 500m trail that ends along the river with a fair sized waterfall.

The trailhead is at 2kms from the front gate on the left (west) side, with room for 4-6 vehicles to park. There is a metal gate at the trailhead. In the winter, do not block the gate so that the staff may access it to groom the ski trails.

Other Trails

There are also trails #4, #5, #6 (waterfalls), #8, and #9. Hopefully I’ll be able to hike those sooner rather than later and update this hiking guide.

For the incredibly adventurous, there is also an 100km trail system. Kenauk Nature states on their website that:

“Kenauk Nature is actively working on developing a 100km trail loop on the property. Sections of the trail will be ready for the summer of 2018, allowing self-reliant trekkers to discover the beauty of the property, with set campsites each on the shorelines of a beautiful lake. Hikers will be expected to be self-sufficient, and come with the ethics of “no trace left behind”.”

This one is most definitely on the bucket list to complete.

Kenauk Nature Experience Guide

Kenauk Nature is only an hour and change from Ottawa making it a wonderful options for those looking for a weekend getaway. For more insight into the cabin rentals, area, and our insights, read our Kenauk Nature Experience Guide.

Wrapping It Up

Amazing that this was my first experience in Montebello, and what a treat to be able to stay at Nature Kenauk! They manage to combine luxury and nature perfectly, much to our benefit. Looking forward to hiking the remaining of the trails and sharing them with you.

Victoria xo