Did you know that Quebec is lined with more than 3,700 miles of accessible hiking trails? As big as it is beautiful, Canada’s “belle province” tempts with riverside routes, forest-fringed pathways, and wide-open Arctic tundra.
Get started with these nine essential trails, ranging from leisurely urban jaunts to far-flung grinds.
Mount Royal Loop, Montreal
1 hour, 1.4 mile
Wind your way up this easy Mount Royal Park trail for mountaintop views of the Montreal skyline. Designed by no less than landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (of Central Park, New York City, fame), the 494-acre city park boasts a 24-mile web of trails that pass stands of maple, oak, and ash trees, and points of interest like the Kondiaronk Belvedere lookout and iconic 100-foot-tall Mount Royal Cross.
The Panoramic Circuit, Quebec City
2 hours, 1.9 miles
A mere 15-minute drive from Quebec City, Parc de la Chute-Montmorency beckons with this easy-to-moderate amble around 272-foot falls – 1.5 times taller than Niagara Falls – that spill into the St. Lawrence River. Along the way, enjoy the observation deck, suspension bridge, 487-step panoramic staircase, and basin promenade. Come back in spring 2021 for even better viewing when a new semi-submersible walkway at the base of the falls opens.
Du Gouffre Trail, Charlevoix
2.5 hours, 4.5 miles (one-way)
This easy section of Canada’s Great Trail – the world’s longest recreational route at 14,913 miles – starts alongside the marsh-rich du Gouffre River before cutting through Charlevoix’s fetching farmland and forest. Thanks to local trail builders, some 18 footbridges and two rest areas line the way. Wind down in nearby Baie-Saint-Paul, a quaint village brimming with century-old buildings, art galleries, and bistros.
Gorge Trail, Eastern Townships
1.5 hours, 2.2 miles
See for yourself why this is the most popular path in the Eastern Townships’ Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook, home to 12 miles of marked intermediate trails. Sure, there are interpretive panels en route about local flora and fauna, but it’s the suspended footbridge over a deep canyon that steals the outdoor show here. Stay till nightfall in the summer, when 1.6 miles of this loop trail transform into Foresta Lumina – a magical multimedia world of fairies and night creatures.
The 360° trail, Mont Tremblant
45 minutes-1 hour, 1.5 miles
Ride a gondola up to this moderate loop trail on Mont Tremblant in the Laurentian Mountains. While the four-season Tremblant resort opens up some 11 trails for summer hiking, 360° is an ideal one to hit for sweeping views of the surrounding slopes.
Just a 30-minute drive away, more than 20 wilderness trails await in Parc national du Mont-Tremblant. Take it easy on the family-friendly Les Chutes-Croches (20 minutes, .44 mile) or step it up on Le Centenaire Loop (3-5 hours, 6 miles).
2 hours, 3.4 miles
Hit Forillon National Park’s sweet spot on this moderate trek that starts on the Petit-Gaspé beach and climbs – steeply at first – through boreal forest up to the observation tower (at 928 feet in altitude). Savor cliff, sea, and Gaspé Peninsula vistas along the way.
4-6 hours, 7 miles
With a 2,625-foot vertical drop, this difficult trail in the Charlevoix region’s Parc national des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie rewards with spectacular peak and valley views. After a day of trekking through forest and alpine terrain on Quebec’s steepest trail, tuck into one of the park’s 10 new sleek Écho cabins, equipped with kitchen, bathroom, wood stove, and plenty of windows – so you can keep ogling those sheer mountain faces.
Mont Jacques-Cartier, Gaspé
4-5 hours, 5.3 miles
Explore woodland caribou habitat on this challenging trek up the highest summit in the southern half of Quebec (4,160 feet). Belonging to the Chic-Choc mountain range on the Gaspé Peninsula, Jacques-Cartier sits along the International Appalachian Trail in Parc national de la Gaspésie. Bring your camera for both the wildlife and glacier-carved peaks.
Pingualuit Crater, Nunavik
All day, 10.5 miles
Looking for a true north adventure? Fly into Nunavik, a region spanning the top one-third of Quebec, for a rock-strewn turn around a perfectly circular, clear-blue lake punched out by a meteorite 1.4 million years ago. Named after its two-mile-wide crater, Pingualuit National Park also mesmerizes with moon-like landscapes and Northern Lights – all best enjoyed on an Inuit-guided small-group trip.
For more Quebec hiking experiences, visit the Tourism Quebec website.