This fall season I was able to explore some of the best parks in Quebec and they blew me away. Before my trip, I thought that the province was mainly known for things like poutine, maple syrup, exciting nightlife, smoked meat, and for being the birthplace of French Canada—outdoor recreation never really came to mind. Now, post-trip, I can’t believe how much there is to explore in the province, especially when the leaves turn red, orange, and yellow!
I’ll be sharing 10 parks in Quebec that hiking enthusiasts and all-around outdoor lovers will adore. This blog post is more of an overview of the areas you can explore rather than a fully-detailed post for each park—so it’s a great starting point for your future trip. I suggest learning more about each park by clicking the link in each section below and stopping by visitor centers once you’re there. I visited most of the parks below on my recent trip (and have the ones I didn’t get to on my bucketlist for later).
To get into most of these parks you’ll need a Sepac pass. There are three passes you can get:
- A day pass for one park (about $7-8CAD)
- An annual pass for a one park ($45CAD)
- An annual pass for all parks ($81.25CAD)
I purchased the annual pass for all parks because I knew I was going to visit the parks about ten times so it was worth it! Plus, it’s always nice to support the parks if you have the means. You can buy and download your passes here before you head into a park.
A quick note on outdoor ethics: when visiting these parks, please follow the Leave No Trace Principles so that we can preserve these natural spaces for generations to come. This means staying on the trail and not trampling vegetation, packing out what you pack in (leave no garbage left behind), respecting wildlife, leaving only footprints (not scratching your name into rocks or trees), and more. You can find the full set of principles and more information here. Thank you for doing your part by being a steward and protector of the land.
Want to skip ahead?
- Grands-Jardins National Park
- Hautes‑Gorges-de-la-Rivière‑Malbaie National Park
- Mont Mégantic National Park
- Jacques-Cartier National Park
- Mont-Tremblant National Park
- Mont-Orford National Park
- Saguenay Fjords National Park
- Mauricie National Park
- Forillon National Park
- Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé National Park
1) Grands-Jardins National Park
While during my research I found that Grands-Jardins is beautiful, I didn’t get a chance to hike in the park. I suggest hiking to Mont du Lac des Cygnes (there’s also a via ferrata circuit on this hike). I opted to hike Mont du Dôme (the above photo) which is actually just outside the park (and part of an outdoor recreation area called ZEC des Martres). Both trails overlook a sea of fall foliage and are must-dos! Click here for more information about the Grands-Jardins and click here for information on ZEC des Martres.
2) Hautes‑Gorges-de-la-Rivière‑Malbaie National Park
This park is the sole reason why I went to Quebec in the first place. I saw one photo and knew I had to see it for myself. It’s one of the best parks in Quebec… and also one of the busiest. I recommend visiting mid-week for the best experience. I visited this park on a Friday and Saturday in September, which is one of the busiest months. I didn’t know at the time, but on weekdays, you’re able to drive into the park freely but on the weekends you need to park at the visitor center and take a bus in (no driving within the park is allowed). When I was there, the first bus was at 8am, so I arrived at 7am to get in line.
The 10.6-kilometer (and 885m gain) Acropole des Draveurs hike is the main reason people flock to this park. Once you’re at the top, you see down to the Malbaie River surrounded by mountains and fall foliage—and it’s truly an incredible sight. There are some rules, like strict closing times, that you’ll need to know before you go (which you can find here).
3) Mont Mégantic National Park
This is one of the best parks in Quebec because it’s surrounded by incredible fall foliage! There’s 20km of hiking trails that lead to incredible vantage points from both Mont Mégantic and Mont Saint-Joseph. To find more information, click here. I recommend the 12.9-kilometer hike called Sentier des Cimes (Trail of the Peaks) when visiting the park (the above photo).
4) Jacques-Cartier National Park
Jacques-Cartier is home to the most beautiful glacial valley that is surrounded by fall foliage in mid-September/early October. It’s one of the best parks in Quebec because there is so much to explore—by foot and water. I recommend hiking trails like Mount Andante, Sentier des Loups, the Wolves Trail, and Éperon trails and exploring the riverside (above photos). There are only a couple of roads in the park and I spent a day driving around them, pulling over at random spots and exploring the fall foliage. On top of all of this, you can also explore the park by the water. White water rafting, canoeing, and kayaking are all really popular here. To find more information, click here.
5) Mont-Tremblant National Park
Mont-Tremblant has so much going on that it could warrant its own blog post. It’s one of the most popular parks in Quebec because there’s something to do all year round. In the fall, there are countless hikes and cabins that are surrounded by fall foliage. I recommend cruising to Lac Tremblant, finding cute cabins (click here to check out some of my suggestions), and hiking the 5.4-kilometer La Roche trail or 3.2-kilometer La Corniche trail. If you’re a skier or snowboarder, check out Mont Tremblant Ski Resort in the winter—it’s world-renowned! To learn more about this park, click here.
These next five parks are areas of Quebec I wasn’t able to get to on my trip, but I researched a whole lot! They are on my bucketlist.
6) Mont-Orford National Park
There is over 80 km of trails in this park! I recommend going on the 10.6-kilometer Mont-Chauve loop trail that’s in Mont Orford. It overlooks the fall foliage all around the park. You’ll also find beautiful fall colors on the short Étang-Fer-de-Lance trail. If you want to learn more about this park, click here.
7) Saguenay Fjords National Park
The landscape here is incredible and you’re sure to feel like you’re in Norway or New Zealand. There are loads of outdoor activities here in the Saguenay fjord, including sea kayaking, whale watching, and of course, hiking! I recommend trails like Sentier de la Statue and the via Ferrata that goes along the cliffs of Baie Eternité. Caps trail to the Giant’s viewpoint is also a great hike. All of these suggestions look onto Saguenay Fjord’s magnificent bay. To find more information, click here.
8) Mauricie National Park
This is one of the best parks in Quebec because there’s so much to do in the area—starting with driving along the Promenade road which is almost 16 kilometers and goes along Lake Wapizagonke. There are several lookouts along the way, but I recommend stopping at both the Passage and the Île-aux-Pins lookouts. One of the most popular trails in this park is called Les Deux Criques—a difficult 15.3-kilometer trail. Other notable trails are the Cascades, Falaises, and Lac-Solitaire trails. If you’re a fan of canoeing, you can rent a canoe and make your way to Waber Falls (which is challenging but worth it). Click here to read more about this park.
9) Forillon National Park
If you feel at home by the water, you’ll want to make your way to the tip of Gaspé Peninsula where the fall colors and blue water of Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Gaspé Bay. Sea kayaking is really popular because as you explore the gulf you hopefully will see some whales! I recommend the 7.8-kilometer loop trail called Mont-Saint-Alban trail. It is the one to do when you’re in the park because it you’re able to climb to the top of an observation tower where you’ll get a great view of the water and fall colors (the photo above). It’ll feel like you’re on the edge of the world! For more information, click here.
10) Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé National Park
This park doesn’t have much fall foliage, but, I promise, it won’t let you down. Percé Rock is the park’s main attraction which is a huge rock formation in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, close to Forillon National Park. It’s linked to the coast by a sandbar at low tide so you can walk right to it if the time is right. If you’re keen on wildlife watching, this park is the largest migratory bird sanctuary in North America—because hundreds of thousands of breeding birds from different species migrate here. It’s also popular to take a sea excursion to Bonaventure Island, where there are trails and more views! Click here for more information about this park.