There is nothing like starting the summer hiking season off with a real beast of a mountain like Mont Gosford! It was needed, it was soooooo needed. Maybe mentally more than physically. Something has been missing lately and when that happens I’m tempted to (and normally do) drop everything and just take off.
But then there is work, and nursing school, and a condo to be responsible for so that option isn’t really possible at the moment. Womp womp. There is however mountains and great friends, those are always an option.
Ever hear of Mont Gosford? Quebec’s 16th highest peak and southern Quebec 2nd highest peak sitting at 1193m (3914feet)?!?!
Let me tell you, she’s a beauty.
That crazy ass 90km wind/rain storm we all had on Friday is what we drove down in and was the only tense moment of the weekend actually. Barely seeing in front of us with it rain sideways and everyone driving with four ways on for safety’s sake.
We made it though, a 4hour drive from Ottawa to Sherbrooke and stayed the night at the Motel-des-cedres. Likely one of the cleanest and nicest motels I’ve ever stayed at. The walls are a wee bit thin, ha ha, but besides that it’s a thumbs up.
Now about that mountain…
The low down
- Distance from Ottawa: 451 kms (roughly 5hrs) via highways 417/30/10/610/212. I highly recommend taking the 30 around the south of Montreal regardless of what the GPS says, it’s a sanity saver to avoid the city traffic.
- Best route: Highways 417/30/10/610/212. I highly recommend taking the 30 around the south of Montreal regardless of what the GPS says, it’s a sanity saver to avoid the city traffic. Sherbrooke has a Starbucks, otherwise you’re looking at Tim Hortons or McDonalds coffee only on this. The road leading into Mont Gosford (Rang-tout-de-joie) is a dirt road with a few pot holes but otherwise well maintained.
- Suggested stops: If you’re venturing out the Friday after work, it’s worth it to stop and stay in Sherbrooke (4hr drive) and then head to Mont Gosford in the morning. On the way back you pass Mont Megantic which has an observatory at the summit and drivable during the summer months.
- More information: The Mont Gosford website.
Mont Gosford has over 40 kms worth of trails to explore with an easy to read map that lays out the distances, lodging, and amenities. Note that the Pavillon Rose-Delima is not accessible by vehicle in the winter.
- Highlights: That summit view! Stunning. Really really stunning. Hands down the highlight was the wildlife. The trails are very clearly marked. There is a small waterfall on trail #6 and a lookout at the summit with clearly marked points of interest to observe.
- Entrance fee: 5$ day pass per person.
- Dogs: Allowed on leash.
- Washrooms: Outhouses onsite otherwise please abide by outdoor washroom etiquette.
- Season: Open year round. The trails are for ski and snowshoe in the winter. Dog sledding also available.
The parks office is open starting at 8am and you need to register and pay the entry fee per person. They are primarily french speaking so it’s ideal to know a little french yourself and be well informed about the trails/accommodations prior to arriving. I found the staff to be very helpful and kind – if you have questions, they’re the experts to ask!
We were thrilled that there weren’t many people on the trails! We were the first to start hiking at 9am. I couldn’t understand why on earth more people weren’t taking advantage of this fabulous day?!?!
Ummm ya, it’s because of the trail conditions genius.
We ended up taking the very clearly marked trail #6 and trail #8 to the summit for a total of 7.1kms one way. The first 2kms were dry enough and through the forest, then came 2kms of boot sucking mud (in spots) as the trail was literally a water stream. The final 2-3kms is a mix of steep incline, forest, and snow.
Like up to yo waist snow. Being the smart cookies we are, we quickly figured out the best. route was to walk were the snowshoers (not a word but you get it) have compounded the snow.
One accidental side step to the left or right and woooooooomph – instant sink in the snow up to your waist.
I became the champ at these missteps and it felt like 2kms of pistol squats, ha ha, which, ummmm, I can’t actually do. We laughs tons, but oye, did the ‘ol legs ever feel the burn!
Oh that view though
I think Kris and I literally squealed with pure joy when we broke out of the tree. This was better than Christmas. Breaking out from the trail and onto the summit near takes your breath away – there it is, that oh so blue view of rolling mountain ranges.
There are a few rock formations to serve as a wind break (much needed) and a look out tower that gives a stellar 360′ view.
My incredible hiking buddies are #birdsnerds and outdoor enthusiasts which is pretty much the best kind of hiking buddies – you learn (and appreciate) so much more!
We saw those curious grey jays around the cabin, beautiful birds. We thought they just really liked us but read later on that they are know for stalking hikers in hopes of swiping some food.
A pileated woodpecker also made a guess appearance as well, lucky lucky us.
We rented a rustic cabin located 800m from the parking lot from the park itself for a relatively good price. The cabins are beautiful. Sparse, clean, and well maintained. It had an outhouse and all the firewood we could have needed. There was a pot and pan for our use.
There no wifi and no cell range. This was perfect, utter relaxation. I even read half of ‘The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit‘ by Michael Finkel.
Kindly note that all instructions, including stove instructions, are in french only.
Surround yourself with great people
I do a lot of traveling alone. A lot. And to be honest, I love traveling alone.
This trip was definitely better with friends though. I likely would have been scared out of my bananas to stay in a cabin in the woods by myself (and likely wouldn’t have)!
My mountain partners for this trip were my friend Kris and her hubby C. I met Kris years ago when we were servers together for a local catering company. She is one of those oh so genuine souls that I love having in my life. And talk about the perfect adventure buddies! I have never enjoyed company so much, nor laughed so hard. Thank you both! xo
In fact, my abs hurt from laughing all weekend as much as my legs did from hiking Mont Gosford. Ha ha.
Both Kris and I signed up for the 52 hike challenge this year, and if our adventures keep up like they have been – it’s going to be the best year yet!
The secret is out
How this mountain is not more popular is beyond me. The secret is out Ottawa, with only an easy 5 hr drive this is the perfect weekend escape. Ya know, if you like mountains and stuff. 😉