The Québec maritime Blog

The Maritime Regions of Québec: A True Paradise for Hikers!
  • Forillon National Park
    Mathieu Dupuis

The Maritime Regions of Québec: A True Paradise for Hikers!

Majestic scenery, rich natural environments and diverse geography… These are three essential ingredients for great hiking, and all are present in the maritime regions of Québec! Here, then, are some ideas for hiking destinations throughout our regions.

On an island

The quietness inherent to any island environment invites contemplation and relaxation... especially if you also have the opportunity to see whales! On Île aux Lièvres (Hare Island), which is managed by Société Duvetnor in Bas-Saint-Laurent, explore 45 km (30 mi.) of trails as well as natural lookouts and deserted shores (which are teeming with life!). On the Sept Îles Archipelago in Côte-Nord, enjoy the sea breeze while wandering on Grande Basque Island. During your hike, take the time to chat with naturalist guides, who will be happy to share their passion for the rich marine life found in the waters surrounding this island.

Still in Côte-Nord, the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve is a true paradise for hikers. Explore the archipelago’s massive monoliths sculpted by the wind and sea, and discover a rich and diverse birdlife. Nine islands of the archipelago offer hiking trails varying in length and level of difficulty.

Located off the Mingan Archipelago, Anticosti Island is also renowned for spectacular scenery. Explore hiking trails that will take you to the island’s main attractions and stroll along beaches that extend as far as the eye can see.

Beaches, bays, coves, lush green hills and cliffs… all of these words describe the unique geography of the Îles de la Madeleine, an archipelago in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The Islands boast an extensive network of hiking trails called the Sentiers Entre Vents et Marées, which is nearly 235 km (145 mi.) long and is divided into 13 sections. Climb to the top of Big Hill on Entry Island, which, at 174 metres (571 feet) above sea level, is the highest point in the archipelago. If you have limited time, take advantage of the guided hikes offered by Auberge La Salicorne to make sure you don’t miss anything!

Islands are also witnesses to our past. Walk in the footsteps of hermit Toussaint Cartier on Saint-Barnabé Island, off Rimouski, while hiking along the shoreline for a total of 12 km (7.5 mi.). You can also hike across Bonaventure Island, off Percé, or along the shoreline to the northern gannet colony. As you do so, admire the island’s heritage buildings, which bear witness to a rich fishing history dating back to the 18th century.

Along the sea

Even on the mainland, the seashore is a place where different natural environments meet. This is the case at Parc Nature de Pointe-aux-Outardes in Côte-Nord, which showcases nine different ecosystems. Well-maintained trails take you through each of them to give you a glimpse of the unique wildlife found in this nature park.

On the western boundary of Côte-Nord, the steep rock walls of the Saguenay Fjord will amaze you. The trail network at the Ferme 5 Étoiles holiday resort, which is linked to the trails in Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay, gives you access to several breathtaking lookouts over the fjord. Explore these trails during hikes ranging from an hour to several days.

In Gaspésie, Parc du Bourg de Pabos offers about 20 km (12 mi.) of trails that will take you along Grand Pabos Bay (a popular bird-watching site) and Lac Chaud as well as to an observation tower.

In the mountains

The Appalachian Mountains form the backbone of the south shore of the St. Lawrence. The International Appalachian Trail (IAT) criss-crosses this rugged terrain through deep valleys and dense forests, reaching peaks over 1000 metres (3300 feet) high and offering stunning 360-degree views of the surrounding scenery. Roughly 650 km (400 mi.) long, this trail is a perfect natural playground for backpacking enthusiasts. The trail crosses Parc national de la Gaspésie, where hiking is the featured activity, then runs along the shoreline from village to village all the way to Forillon National Park. At this point you have reached Land’s End, with Cap Gaspé as the grand finale! You can plan your own itinerary or choose from the IAT’s guided packages. Nature Aventure also offers guided packages (including meals), an appealing option if you’re relatively new to backpacking.

If you hear the call of the mountains but would rather explore them in a series of day hikes, the Auberge de montagne des Chic-Chocs is the perfect base camp for you. Located right in the heart of the mountains of Gaspésie, this four-star lodge gives you access to about 60 km (40 mi.) of trails, either loops or return trips of a few hours, including sections of the IAT.

In the La Haute-Gaspésie sector, the Mont-Saint-Pierre mountain station by the sea offers two trails you can climb to admire breathtaking views of a glacial valley and the St. Lawrence: the Delta trail (3 km / 2 mi.) and the Lynx trail (15 km / 9 mi.). A shuttle service is also available to take you to the Mont Jacques-Cartier sector of Parc national de la Gaspésie.

In the fall, you can also participate in the TDLG Fall event: a weeklong all-inclusive trek that will take you through enchanting sea and mountain landscapes in Gaspésie—and includes lots of fun and festive activities!

For the more adventurous, the Uapishka Mountains are the perfect destination. (Uapishka means “always snowy rocky peaks” in the Innu language.) Also known as the Groulx Mountains, this mountain range includes about 30 peaks over 1000 metres (3300 feet) high and is located in the backcountry of Manicouagan, in Côte-Nord. Soak up breathtaking views of the “Eye of Québec,” one of the largest impact craters in the world, and enjoy unmarked hikes through several ecosystems in this territory. Located at the foot of the mountains, Station Uapishka offers visitors meals and lodging, in addition to providing logistical support for scientific research. Various activities are available on site during which you can appreciate the beautiful surrounding landscapes and the authenticity of the Innu culture.

In the forest

Are you planning a stay in Bas-Saint-Laurent? Parc des Chutes (Falls Park) in Rivière-du-Loup has a well-maintained trail network designed around an impressive 33-metre (108 feet) waterfall. Take the footbridge to enjoy a spectacular view of the city and the St. Lawrence!

In Saint-Gabriel-de-Rimouski, go for a walk on the interpretive trails at Domaine Valga, in one of the only old-growth sugar maple and yellow birch stands in Québec. Further west, the Rimouski River runs through a deep canyon at Canyon des Portes de l’Enfer (Hell’s Gate Canyon), a site where you can see the impact of the forces of nature in our forests. Trails ranging in length from 1 to 14 km (0.6 mi. to 9 mi.) will take you through the forest and along the river where you can admire the Grand Sault waterfall and cross the canyon on a 63-metre-high (207 feet) suspension footbridge, the highest in Québec!

Thrill seekers will also enjoy visiting the Percé UNESCO Global Geopark in Gaspésie. Dotted with lookouts, the geopark’s challenging trails will take you through a mountainous and forested area. It’s worth the climb for the view from the suspended glass platform: admire the village of Percé, the bay, Percé Rock and Bonaventure Island!

For an enjoyable hike as a family, head to the Centre de Plein Air du Lac des Rapides in Sept-Îles (Côte-Nord). From the lookout, you can admire a vast lake and the surrounding natural environment. And why not take advantage of your visit to enjoy some of the many watersports offered at this outdoor recreation centre?

In addition to all these options, you can also visit Bic, Lac-Témiscouata and Miguasha national parks as well as wildlife reserves, all of which offer hundreds of kilometres of hiking trails throughout our regions. Make sure to pack your hiking boots!

Author Jean-Pascal Côté

A certified translator and avid outdoorsman, Jean-Pascal Côté works as a freelance writer and translator in Bas-Saint-Laurent, the region where he was born. He regularly escapes his daily life by going road biking, cycle touring or cyclocross racing, skiing in the mountains of Bas-Saint-Laurent or Western Canada, or sea kayaking on the St. Lawrence River. He is constantly dreaming up new travel plans. He also blogs (on an admittedly irregular basis) about his cycle touring adventures.

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