About Chutes de Plaisance (Chutes de Moulin)
The Chutes de Plaisance (also known as Sault-de-la-Chaudiere; not to be confused with Les Chutes de la Chaudiere near Quebec City) was a wide and powerful series of cascades tumbling within a fairly undeveloped area between Ottawa and Quebec in the Plaisance Municipality. It wasn’t easy to get a satisfyingly full view of the cumulative 67m falls due to the amount of foliage at all of the viewpoints as well as the overall size of the waterfalls, and the photo you see at the top of this page was perhaps the best view I was able to get. Yet that view was not all that there was to the main drop!
My visit happened to occur on a weekday morning when nobody was at the entrance shack at the trailhead (see directions below) so apparently we weren’t subject to the $5 CAD per person fee to visit. I immediately followed an obvious trail that descended on what seemed to be more like a 4wd track that followed along the Riviere de la Petite Nation. It didn’t take long before I started to notice one picnic table after another along the trail then spreading out to other forested openings on either side of the trail.
The quiet rural environment on the morning of my visit made for a very peaceful and serene experience, but I wasn’t sure whether the serenity and lack of people were normal or not considering the quantity of these picnic tables. Nonetheless, the peace along with the colorful Autumn foliage resulted in a much-needed re-invigorating walk to help break up the drive between Montreal and Ottawa.
Around the picnic tables, I scrambled towards the fences where I spotted some informal views between the foliage providing partial views of the Chutes de Plaisance. From what I was able to tell, most of the views except maybe one or two weren’t obvious. Plus, that fence was all along the dropoffs ensuring that only the determined visitor would fall into the gorge.
After getting my fill of what partial views I was able to get of the impressive waterfalls, I then kept going downhill where I saw some stairs that ultimately led me down to the riverbank a short distance downstream from the last of the tiers of the Chutes de Plaisance. While I was down at the riverbank, I did some awkward scrambling on the rough surface towards where I could get the last partial views of the falls, which were mostly blocked due to the twisting action of the falls amidst the rocky terrain. However, there were plenty of creatively stacked rock cairns on the riverbed so I’d imagine this might be a good fishing spot (or possibly a swimming hole though the speed of the river made me wonder if that would be wise here).
The riverbed was my turnaround point. I didn’t continue hiking further downstream so I couldn’t say what was further along the trail. Thus, all in all, I spent about 40 minutes to hike down and back up to the car park as well as take a short walk to the road bridge near the car park where I could see downstream over the uppermost tier of Chutes de Plaisance as the Riviere de la Petite Nation cut through colorful forests.
I also noticed that on some of the maps of this area, this waterfall (or something further downstream) was also referred to as the Chutes du Moulin (Waterfalls of the Wheel?). It wasn’t clear to me whether this was the same waterfall as the Chutes de Plaisance or if it was a different waterfall altogether. If it was a different waterfall, perhaps in hindsight I should’ve continued down the trail. Then again, I wasn’t sure how far I would’ve had to walk considering the river flattened out and calmed down for as much as I was able to see downstream at my turnaround point.
From Montreal, we fought the rush hour traffic then went north on the AUT-15 (Autoroute Des Laurentides) for about 33km north to the suburb of Mirabel where we junctioned with the AUT-50. We then followed the AUT-50 (which wasn’t on our map as I suspected it was a new highway) west for about 94km to the exit at Montee Papineau turning left to go south in the direction of the town of Plaisance.
After about 700m, we turned right onto Ch Malo for about 1.5km to the car park just before the bridge over the Riviere de la Petite Nation. This drive took us about 2.5 hours, but that included spending about 1 hour just to get from downtown Montreal to Sainte-Therese.
Going in the other direction from Ottawa, take the AUT-50 north-northeast for over 60km towards the highway exit for Montee Papineau. From there, follow the local directions as above to reach the trailhead.
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