Sépaq: 10 National Parks You Have to Visit in Eastern Québec

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Québec Le Mag'
Published on March 17, 2022
A couple hikes on the Scotora Trail in Jacques-Cartier National Park.
René-Martin Trudel

Content partner: Société des établissements de plein air du Québec (Sépaq)

For vast protected areas full of plants and wildlife and adventures in stunning natural environments, Sépaq delivers the ultimate outdoor destinations. As the province’s biggest park network, Sépaq has tons of offerings in Eastern Québec. If you like being out in nature, this is your chance to experience authentic Québec wilderness in all its forms. Here are 10 national parks for your next trip to Eastern Québec.

  • 1

    Jacques-Cartier National Park

    Get ready for 670 km² (nearly 260 square miles) of unadulterated forest in one of the province’s most spectacular river valleys. At just 30 minutes from Québec’s city centre, Jacques-Cartier National Park’s green peaks and rushing river are an irresistible call to nature and adventure. Answer that call with a morning spent hiking along Escarpement Trail, a 9.2 km roundtrip that rewards you with stunning views from the summit. In the afternoon, you can rent a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) and mosey on down the calmer section of the Jacques-Cartier River. If you can’t bear to leave, there are enough trails and activities to keep you busy for days. Be sure to add it to your itinerary.

  • 2

    Montmorency Falls Park

    Right near Québec City, there’s a spectacular waterfall that’s 83 metres (272 ft.) tall. That’s higher than Niagara Falls! The park gives you all kinds of different ways to enjoy the show: a cable car, a footpath, lookouts, and a suspended bridge that’s sure to give you a rush. Ratchet the excitement up a notch on one of the three via ferratas or the 300-metre (328-yard) zipline. You can catch your breath and unwind with a picnic lunch from Le 1759, the park’s food truck. An exciting day awaits!

  • 3

    Grands-Jardins National Park

    The Charlevoix region and its Biosphere Reserve are home to marvelous, incredible biomes. With their alpine plants and wildlife, the taiga and tundra in Grands-Jardins National Park are perfect examples. The park is packed with 310 km² (120 square miles) of varied forests traversed by over 30 km (18.6 miles) of hiking trails for all levels. We love La Chouenne, which takes you up to a 730 m (2,395 ft.) peak, with great views of the valley and Gros Bras Mountain along the way. The hike takes about 2 hours, which leaves you plenty of time to go canoeing, kayaking, voyageur canoeing, or SUPing on Lake Arthabaska. Get ready for a fun-filled day of adventuring in the boreal forest.

  • 4

    Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie National Park

    Head to the Charlevoix Biosphere Reserve to see this gorgeous mountain park cut through by the Malbaie River. There’s a great bike path that follows the river, so rent a bike and check it out! There are also fun things to do on the water, including a one-hour boat tour that takes you to some of the prettiest spots in the park. Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie National Park is also known for its great hiking. For an easy climb with great views of the valley, Le Riverain is a great option. If you’re looking for a challenge, try the legendary Acropole-des-Draveurs Trail.

  • 5

    Pointe-Taillon National Park

    The happy place for anyone who loves biking, hiking, swimming, watersports, or just lounging around. Pointe-Taillon National Park boasts a prime location on the shores of Lac Saint-Jean, which is a veritable inland sea. It’s perfect for walking along the beach, playing in the sand, going for a swim, or stretching out on a beach towel and enjoying the 15 km (9 miles) of sandy shoreline along the lake and the Péribonka River. For all you cyclists, there are 45 km (28 miles) of bike paths, including beautiful forest trails and a section of the Blueberry Bike Route (Véloroute des Bleuets). It’s the perfect way to work up a sweat before you indulge in a little beach time.

  • 6

    Fjord-du-Saguenay National Park

    A mighty fjord, a fascinating history, and a gold mine of outdoor adventures: Fjord-du-Saguenay National Park has all that and more. The cliffs, bays, and rocky heights sculpted by the colossal forces of nature, the forest trails and lookouts, and of course, the waters of Saguenay–Saint-Laurent Marine Park all add up to one big “wow.” For your first encounter with the fjord, we recommend starting in the Eternity Bay sector with a guided boat tour aboard the Fjord Saguenay II.  Eternity Bay also has via ferratas that you can try in a small group with the help of a professional guide. Do it for the thrills and the views!

  • 7

    Bic National Park

    If you’re looking for a place to relax and unwind, have fun outside, or enjoy a sustainable stay by the water, look no further than Bic National Park. You’ll be blown away by the beauty of the coast: the capes, peaks, coves, mountains, forests, islands, islets, and bays that are home to multitudes of seabirds and even seals in season. It’s one of Québec’s top destinations for sea kayaking and has great hiking and bike paths. You’ll definitely want to add those to your list, along with watching the wildlife and catching a sunset or two in this magical setting.

  • 8

    Gaspésie National Park

    A sea of mountains and an abundance of wildlife unfurl across 802 km² (310 square miles) in Gaspésie National Park. It’s a moving experience, especially if you’re lucky enough to cross paths with one of the moose that inhabit this mountainous region. Of the 25 peaks that top out above 1,000 metres, Mount Albert is particularly popular with hikers. It’s a great climb with two great payoffs: the view and the 4-star inn, Gîte du Mont-Albert. There’s also the option of going canoeing, kayaking, or SUPing on Cascapédia Lake. All in all, an exciting day at the top!

  • 9

    Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé National Park

    The outline of Percé Rock, with its huge arch, is an iconic Québec image. See the real thing on a boat tour of the park as you experience Gaspésie’s natural beauty and fishing heritage. You’ll pick up fascinating tidbits of information from your guide and see all kinds of marine animals and birds, including the famous Northern gannet colony on an enjoyable hike of Île Bonaventure. Don’t forget your camera!

  • 10

    Aquarium du Québec

    With over 300 species of marine life, Québec’s biggest aquarium is always a hit with families. You’ll want to see the Awesome Ocean Tunnel, of course, as well as the touch pools where you can feel invertebrates and rays under the supervision of an aquarium guide. There’s also a new immersive 10-minute projection in a circular room, and the recently revamped polar bear habitat outside. Be sure to check the schedule of aquarium activities throughout the day to see the seals being trained and the walruses being fed!

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Québec Le Mag'

Québec Le Mag’ is a French-language media outlet dedicated to the two types of people in this world: those who love Québec and those who will soon. Check out their website for great stories, articles, and recommendations.

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