Picture this – the sun setting over what seems like never-ending rolling mountains, and a spruce forest that consumes them, carpeted in lichen and rich in fall colours. What sounds like a storybook depiction is a reality in Quebec’s Parc national des Grands-Jardins. This magical land is home to several hiking trails, one of which leads atop a mountain.
Just over an hour’s drive away from Quebec City is Parc national des Grands-Jardins, located within Saint-Urbain.
The park’s name, which translates to “great gardens”, “refers to its expansive carpets of ground lichen, ancient boreal forest, and arctic vegetation not typically found at this latitude,” according to Tourisme Charlevoix.
Per Sepaq, this national park is part of the Charlevoix Biosphere Reserve, a status granted to the region by UNESCO.
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It’s a nature lovers’ paradise that offers an array of activities from fishing to rock climbing, via ferrata and hiking, among many more.
But for a truly rewarding, scenic experience, you’ll want to embark on one of the hiking trails. The park has a trail network of over 30 km that ranges from easy to the most difficult.
The trail you want to check out is the Mont du Lac-des-Cygnes Trail as it offers a view of the Charlevoix crater, a 33-mile-wide impact zone formed by a massive meteorite 360 million years ago, and Vallée du Gros-Bras, according to Tourisme Charlevoix.
Overall, the trail is about 8.4 km round trip which should take you about four hours to complete. You will depart from the Mont-du-Lac-des-Cygnes service center, Route nº 381, kilometer 21.
But before you embark on this journey, it is important to always check with the trail manager.
Though may sound daunting to some, it’s truly a memorable experience for avid hikers.
Parc national des Grands-Jardins is open year-round. Day fees start at $9.55 per day for those 17 and up, while those under 17 can enter for free.
Now no time to lose, plan your next weekend trip and check out Parc national des Grands-Jardins – it’s a fall time must!
Where: Route 381, at km 21 – Saint-Urbain (QC)