From Parc de Forillon, we follow the entire north coast of Gaspésie to reach Parc de la Gaspésie. A spectacular road of almost 300 km with mountains on one side and the sea on the other. Magnificent. In Sainte Anne des Monts, we branch off on route 299 and very quickly find ourselves surrounded by mountains. Here we are for 3 days in the Parc de la Gaspésie, a must-see and a favorite during a road trip in Gaspésie.
First of all, what is Parc de la Gaspésie?
Created in 1937, the Parc National de la Gaspésie is a major hiking destination in Quebec. It must be said that with its mountains culminating at more than 1000 meters of altitude, its glaciers, its high plateaus and its ridges, it offers sacred hikes. And as if that were not enough, the Parc de la Gaspésie is home to several herds of moose and caribou. The latter are even the last representatives of this species south of the St. Lawrence.
In all, they are close to 20 hiking trails which are offered inside the park. Trails for all levels but with a majority of difficult / expert trails, with vertical drop.
Belonging to SEPAQ, entry into Parc de la Gaspésie is included in the Annual Pass. Otherwise, admission costs $ 8.90 per person per day. Finally, it is possible to go fishing (four lakes and three rivers) for the day and rent a kayak, canoe, pedal boat or stand up paddle at Lake Cascapedia.
Our hikes in the Parc de la Gaspésie
Mont Ernest Laforce at the end of the day
Culminating at 820 meters, Mont Ernest Laforce is an intermediate hike of 4.6 km (round trip). Renowned for its 360 ° view of the surrounding mountains (Mont Albert, Mont Xalibu, etc.), Mont Ernest is also the ideal spot in the Parc de la Gaspésie, to observe moose. The latter mainly go out early in the morning and at the end of the day. It is at the end of the day (around 4 p.m.) that we begin our ascent of Mont Ernest Laforce. A fairly regular climb of 1 hour during which all our senses are awake to spot the moose. Unfortunately without success for the moment. Once at the top, the 360 ° panoramic view is truly magnificent.
We scan the horizon but as we do not really know what to look for, it is difficult. And after 20 minutes of waiting, an original appears through the mist, about ten meters from us. An incredible spectacle about 10 minutes before he leaves to live his life. This is the first time in our life that we have seen a wild moose. A majestic and very large animal. After his departure, we stay at the top for about twenty minutes to see others but without success. We can not have everything !
We then begin the descent and after 5 minutes, we discover another moose. This time he is lying in the woods. We are about ten meters from him / her. Unlike the first original, it doesn’t move. As the sun begins to set and the brightness drops rapidly, we continue to descend.
Finally, during the hike of Mont Ernest Laforce we will have seen 2 moose. A priori, they are often there early in the morning and at the end of the day. However, this is not an exact science. It’s haphazard luck! We can say that we were lucky!
American Lake then Mount Xalibu
Nothing better than a short, easy hike (drop of 80 meters) to start the day. Lac aux Américains is a 2.6 km (round trip) trail that leads to the cirque glacière du lac aux Américains. An easy hike that allows you to discover the lake and its surroundings.
To gain height on the Lac aux Américains, I climb to the top of Mount Xalibu. Culminating at 1140 m, it overlooks the lake but also its surroundings. Difficult in level, this 8 km return hike is made even more difficult the day after the rain. Indeed, the path turns into a stream that must be crossed. There is even a small waterfall to cross. But the most difficult is yet to come: the last 1.5 km of climb.
Full wind, unevenness and pebbles replacing the trail. But rest assured, the 360 ° panoramic view quickly makes you forget the efforts of the climb. From the top, I see a magnificent waterfall, lakes as well as the Albert, Joseph-Fortin and Jacques-Cartier mountains.
A small belvedere offers a breathtaking view of Lac aux Américains. It is finally with soaked feet that I finish this hike which will have made me see all the colors.
The difficult and long hike of Mont Albert
Mont Albert, which is the 5th highest peak in the park, offers one of the most popular hikes in Parc de la Gaspésie. And this despite its difficulty. Culminating at 1088 m, two difficult trails (drop of 850 m) allow you to discover this mountain: Mont Albert (North Versant) 12.6 km and the Tour-du-Mont Albert 18 km. The first is a return trip to the top, while the second is a return trip to the top and a return via the other side. I chose the Tour-du-Mont Albert.
The climb through the forest to the summit via the North side is fairly regular even if the last 2 kilometers are difficult (5.5 km in all). During this climb, I had the chance to meet a few meters from me, an original male. A beautiful meeting that motivates. Arrived at the top, the view is incredible! A 360 ° panoramic view of the surrounding mountains, a small lake and the Tundra (a 13 km2 plateau). Magnificent. But then what a wind at the top! Even in summer it can get very cold at the top. So make sure you cover up well. Fortunately, there is a small refuge to shelter from the wind.
The second part of the Tour du Mont Albert hike is completely different from the first: a long, steep descent in the middle of rocks (13 km). It is technical and quite difficult. But what about those who pass by this side to climb to the top of Mont Albert, hats! The first part of the descent, although technical, is pleasant as you descend into the valley and many streams and waterfalls are visible from the path. The rest of the descent is easier, it rejoins the La Chute du Diable trail. A trail that runs along the Sainte-Anne river and a beautiful cedar forest.
In total, it took me nearly 6 hours to complete the 18km tour of Mont Albert (1h30 to go up, 1 hour break and 3h30 to go down). A magnificent hike that allows you to overlook the Parc de la Gaspésie.
Where to sleep to discover the Parc de la Gaspésie?
The Parc national de la Gaspésie offers several types of accommodation within the park itself: rustic campsites, serviced campsites (212), ready-to-camp (20), refuges (7), Chalets (18) and even a hotel (Gîte du Mont-Albert).
As during our weekend in Sutton in the fall, we opted for the Ready to Camp. It is a large tent for 4 people with all the necessary equipment: fridge, mattress, table, chairs, kitchen utensils, gas hobs, pillows, auxiliary heating. There are just no sheets. Everything else is provided. The Prêt à Camper are located in the Mont-Albert campsite. The location is perfect for exploring the Parc de la Gaspésie. Ready to Camp starting at $ 94 per night.
Sleep near the Parc de la Gaspésie
The closest town to the park is Sainte Anne des Monts (40 km). Here are some popular accommodations:
Auberge du Vieux Faubourg : located 30 minutes from Parc de la Gaspésie, this modern and elegant establishment offers Queen bed rooms with balcony and sea view from $ 178 per night with free cancellation. What to take in the eyes after a good day at the park!
Auberge Seigneurie des Monts : located 20 minutes from the Parc de la Gaspésie, you will stay in a former post office which combines old charm with the freshness of modernity. The view is splendid from all corners of the hostel. Queen bed rooms starting at $ 145 per night with free cancellation.
Sleep in Cap Chat, near the Parc de la Gaspésie
Otherwise, it’s a little further down, in Cap Chat, that we spent one night at theMorning Dawn, after our stay at the Park. This is a 4 bedroom Bed & Breakfast. The owners are very welcoming. Room with private bathroom from $ 115 (homemade breakfast included). It’s clearly a good alternative if you don’t want to sleep in the park. Or to cut the road in 2 if necessary.
And for families, take a look at Chalets Valmont. These are charming little colorful chalets, ideal for families, fully equipped with a view of the river. The children will be able to have fun on the immense land and on the beach, while the older ones will enjoy a breathtaking view of the sunset. Starting at $ 178 per night with free cancellation.
In conclusion, my opinion on the Parc de la Gaspésie
Unlike Parc du Bic and Parc de Forillon, Parc de la Gaspésie offers long hikes with vertical drop. It is possible to go hiking for the day (and more) in the Parc de la Gaspésie. The hikes are more difficult and not accessible to everyone. I really liked the “mountainous character” of the park with several peaks over 1000 meters above sea level. And above all, the chance to have seen 3 wild moose!
And you, what hikes have you done in the Parc de la Gaspésie? Where have you had the chance to see moose and / or caribou in Quebec?
Next stop: Parc national du Lac-Témiscouata.