Since the province of Quebec has over 6000 kms of trails, it was tough to come up with a short list of top Quebec hikes. Inevitably, I had to follow my heart and present the four I love best. The last on the list is a marvel of human engineering and way too impressive to leave out.
1. Montagne d’Argent
Montagne d’Argent (Silver Mountain) is located a short fifteen minutes north of Mont-Tremblant. The park has cabins for rent and camping spots. Although the mountain is primarily for ice and rock climbing, there are a few very solid trails for hikers. Bring cash. Payment runs on the honour system.
Then choose the 6 km circuit. It’s outstanding!
What makes it so interesting? Ropes, scrambling, steep staircases, the constant ups and downs, and the changes the seasons bring to the landscape.
See the cliff above, hiked in August? In the spring it might look more like the one below – photo taken April 5th.
The lake on the return loop is very pleasant. There’s a dock for sun tanning and swimming.
Caution is advised any time of year. The circuit isn’t for beginners. And wear good hiking boots.
2. Lac Megantic and St Joseph
The Parc Lac Megantic is a three hour drive, east of Montreal. It’s a very well-maintained park, open all year-round, and offers tent platforms, rustic shelters and cabins to make a weekend of your outing. The trails on the side of Mont Megantic are more interesting for moderate/advanced hikers.
Head up the Sentier du Mont Saint Joseph first. It’s good to be humble. Parts of it are challenging, and you may be passed by school classes or groups out for a run.
The summit of Mont Saint Joseph is cold and miserable, regardless of the season. It’s not uncommon to be in the clouds. Rest in the cabin, benches or at the picnic tables.
Do the summits of Mont Megantic, Mont Victoria and Mont St-Joseph for a total of 15.9 km and about 5.5 hours of hiking. As the trail between St-Joseph and Victoria is often very muddy, wear gaiters.
The whiskeyjacks are entertaining. If you feed them, they’ll follow and dive-bomb you for more.
Need a change of pace? Visit the Astrolab.
Roundtop summit, at Mont Sutton Park, an hour and a half southeast of Montreal, has a huge choice of moderate/difficult trails. Some start at Le Diable Vert (red arrow below – pale circle in photo above), a camping site with tree houses, basic cabins and a main lodge. Pay at the office and then head up to Roundtop.
There’s presently a battle between the governing segments of the trails and you may be approached about your payment being problematic. If you’re concerned about this, park at a Sutton parking lot.
If taken at a reasonable speed, most of the terrain is quite decent, and the landscape is gorgeous, especially in the fall.
Don’t miss circumventing the lake at the base of Roundtop. It’s a lovely spot to eat lunch.
4. L’Acropole des draveurs
L’Acropole des draveurs (acropolis of log drivers) lies five hours, northeast of Montreal, in the Parc des Hautes-Gorges-de-la Riviere-Malbaie, part of the Charlevoix region. The area is beautiful, and I highly recommend it.
The trail l’Acropole des draveurs isn’t long if you start from the Accueil – the Welcome Centre. The first 3 1/2 km are hard on the legs, but then it levels out a bit for the last 1 1/2 km to the first summit. Two more summits (second one below) lie within sight and are worth the climb.
It’s not hard to see why the log drivers watched the log drives from there. The river is visible for miles, both ways.
Those afraid of heights might have problems. It’s a bit hairy in places.
The park also offers camping, canoeing, swimming and fishing. The information is on their website.
5. Le Chemin St Remi
The 820 km of Le Chemin St Remi crosses 54 Quebec cities and villages. Accessible all year, the Chemin de St Remi took its inspiration from the Camino de Santiago: inexpensive places to stay at regular intervals, cleared trails, buses in many towns, and the possibility of doing long or short distance.
Unlike the Camino, the accommodation must be reserved, and paid for, at least a month before departure. The minimum number of days for a hike? Seven.
Since this is Quebec, I wasn’t surprised to see the culinary edge to the package. Order supper and/or breakfast to taste the best local products.
The idea, the planning, the co-operation and the entrepreneurship necessary for this trail to happen so warmed my heart, I couldn’t leave it out of my list, even if I only discovered it last week.
Their website is presently only in French. I’ve offered my services to translate it.
They claim all the money goes to those who provide services. Pretty impressive!
What do you think of a Canadian Camino? Is it a viable concept?