How privileged we are, as Quebecers, to live where nature abounds. In fact, our mountains, nature reserves, fjords, and rivers often receive international media coverage. It is indeed a gift to have access to thousands of kilometres of trails offering getaways of a few hours, days, or even weeks. Here are some destinations that will pique your passion for wide-open spaces.
The Acropole-des-Draveurs trail, located in Parc national des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie, is at the top of the list for many hiking enthusiasts. Covering a round-trip distance of 10.5 km, it has an elevation gain of 800 metres with some steep passages. “I love the Acropole and any hike that offers impressive views while requiring some real effort,” notes guide Daniel Cyrenne.
For outdoor photographer Sofie Lacoste, the Acropole is a favourite because, “You are greeted with amazing vistas as soon you drive into this national park. You see people paddling across a big lake, surrounded by soaring peaks. As you ascend the trail, you experience a crescendo of emotions and encounter multiple natural lookouts.”
Although it is relatively unknown among Quebecers, Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay is a jewel of a park. It has even earned a spot in the excellent Ulysses guide to 50 great hikes in North America. I like the fact that one can explore one shore of the Saguenay and then cross to the other side via river shuttle. In the area of Baie-Éternité, the 7-km Statue trail is an easy climb with stairs and platforms. The views of Baie-Éternité are enchanting, and the panoramic view of the Saguenay Fjord from the top is absolutely spectacular. On the north shore, it is worth visiting the charming town of Tadoussac at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and Saguenay rivers, where one may very well spot some belugas.
Another must-see destination is Parc national du Bic, in the Lower St. Lawrence. The rugged Tour Cap-à-l’Orignal trail takes you to the foot of an impressive coastal cliff. I fondly recall walking along the shore, from rock to rock, sometimes climbing with my bare hands, while inquisitive seal pups seemed to wave at us before diving under the water again. It is important to remember that hikers are only allowed to take this route at low tide.
Finally, I recommend hiking Mount Gosford in the Eastern Townships, located in Le Granit, a regional county municipality near Mont-Mégantic. As the highest peak in southern Quebec, it overlooks a series of mountaintops stretching as far as the eye can see. The space is unimaginably immense. The mountains of Maine and New Hampshire—with Mount Washington in the distance— rise up on one side, while the mountains of the Lac-Mégantic region border the other side.
In the coming months, enjoy the intoxicating pleasure of hiking in nature, where the journey is as much for the mind as it is for the body. Such adventures invite you to contemplate the splendours of our “belle province.”
Photo Sofie Lacoste