25 of the best places for a fall hike in Quebec
Quebec is known for its cities and old-world charm, but not far from the bustling metropolitan areas and delicious restaurants are some amazing hiking trails just begging for a day hike. A combination that makes Quebec an incredible weekend getaway spot.
The province boasts rugged shorelines and tons of wooded trails only slightly inhabited by humans. It's easy to get lost on some of Quebec's best hikes, effectively stepping away from it all. The province has mapped out most of the trails in its national parks through the SEPAQ website.
Most paths do include park admission fees that should be paid ahead of time via the SEPAQ website. If French isn't your first language, it's good to bring a guidebook with you as some of the areas listed here are mostly French, and English will be scarce.
Here are some of our top picks for day hikes in the land of the Fleur de Lis.
Pingualuit Crater Rim
Hiking Time: 3-5 hours
Elevation: 230 meters
The Pingualuit Crater trail includes a massive crater lake that locals call "The Crystal Eye of Nunavik." The crater itself is part of the Pingualuit National Park, an 82-kilometre protected wildlife refuge. There are no real trails at the park, but you can find your way around the crater rim or try the loop from the crater to the north campsite and back (about 70km). This area is only accessible in the spring and summer, and it's suggested that you book a tour with a local group before attempting to access the restricted area. It may take some planning to get to the Pingualuit Crater and its various hikes, but it's well worth the trek.
Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
Elevation: 2,037 ft
If you enjoy adventure, Shawinigan's Deux-Criques Trail in La Mauricie National Park in the Laurentian Mountains is the perfect find. To cross this trail, you'll have to ford a brook and trek through some gnarly bits of land. The trail is relatively quiet during the fall and spring with some lighter traffic during summer months. Deux-Crique is popular with bird watchers and affords some amazing wooded fall views. This trail is challenging, with lots of ups and downs and some very rocky parts. This isn't a great trail to take with younger kids or inexperienced hikers, but it is the perfect full-day hike if you have great weather and a nearby campground.
Outremont Summit, Montreal
Hiking Time: 3-5 hours
Montreal's Mont-Royal deserves to be part of this guide because it's smack in the middle of the city and affords some of the best city views while enjoying a serene natural setting. There are also parts of Mont-Royal that are mostly unknown to tourists and locals (partly because the mountain is so vast), making it the perfect getaway if you are visiting Montreal or want to escape the city streets. Most people know about Beaver Lake and the central mountain trail, but few take the time to explore the other side of the mountain dubbed "The Outremont Summit." This part of the mount includes a rocky and steep 10km trail that winds around the hill and consists of a lookout that was once a ski hill (remnants of the ski lift remain and make a perfect tower perch worth climbing). Parts of the summit trail are perfect for inexperienced hikers, but if you sneak your way up the mountain (and we recommend that you do), you'll find fields of wildflowers and rocky ledges that will test your trekking skills.
Vallée Bras du Nord
Distance: 80+ km
Hiking Time: varies according to trail
Vallee Bras du Nord offers hikers more than 80km of pristine hiking trails. Because these trails are well-maintained and manicured, there's a hike for every ability. There are plenty of shelters, stops, and facilities throughout the trails in this network, too, so it's not a destination you'll want to seek if you are looking to carve your way in or out of wild trails that haven't seen footsteps in a while. But if you're looking to set off on a day trip and explore nature without roughing it, this is an excellent network of trails to consider. The Philosore trail is the longest one in this network spanning 28.1km but is also the most difficult. Beginners will find the Beaver Trail much more manageable at 6.9km. Keep in mind that you will have to purchase a day pass online before you leave.
Sentier Iroquois, Duhamel
Hiking Time: 3 hours
Some Quebec hiking trails are only known by locals or people that frequent areas during summer months. Sentier Iroquois in the Outaouais region of Quebec is one such trail. This mostly unknown area is a haven for hikers and trail runners because it is quiet during the loudest months of summer. This isn't the hardest or longest trail, but it is an excellent break from the heat, and it does come with plenty of trail challenges, including some steep and rocky parts. The trail is rated beginner with some intermediate sections and is a great way to step up your hiking game if you just started (or to strap on some trail running shoes and try your luck and running through rocky paths).
Parc National du Bic
Hiking Time: varies
Parc National du Bic ("Le Bic") is where land meets water and offers one of Quebec's best breaths of nature. Located on the St. Lawrence Seaway, this national park includes plenty of traditional landscaped trails accessible to all ages in addition to a coastal pathway that's only accessible during low tide. There are 25km of trails at the park with many beginner and advanced options. Le Grand Tour is one of the park's hardest trails with cliffs overlooking the sea and plenty of steep ledges, but it's also short at 8.7km. There's also a handful of beginner trails spanning 1.3km to 10km. Be sure to book a campsite, yurt, or cabin to have someone to crash for the night as pitching a tent trailside is frowned upon.
East Point National Wildlife Reserve
Hiking Time: 1-2 hours
Elevation: 62 ft
If bird-watching is your reason for day-tripping, Isles-de-la-Madeline's East Point National Wildlife Reserve is the place to be. This 684-hectare bird sanctuary offers two trails: La Camarine and L'Échouerie. Neither path is particularly hard, but L'Échouerie is the more difficult of the two. These trails can be accessed with a guide (to help you spot and seek out wildlife) or on your own through the Route 199 entrance. The total distance between the two trails is 4.5km, making it ideal for a slow and easy hike on a cooler day. There's nowhere to stay onsite, but there are plenty of rental options in the area.
The Gorge Canyon Trail, Coaticook
Hiking Time: 1.5 hours
Hikers flock to the Gorge Canyon Trail in Coaticook, Quebec, for one reason: the longest suspended footbridge in North America. Built by Couillard Construction in 1988, the bridge is a massive draw in the summer months. The footbridge is only accessible in the summertime and only through the Sentier de la Gorge trail. The trail itself is 3.5 kilometres and is an easy trail idea for beginners that aren't afraid of heights. A more advanced trail option that doesn't include the footbridge is the Sentier Tillotson trail that spans 8.5km.
Grand Prix des Couleurs, Mont Tremblant
Hiking Time: 2 hours
Mont-Tremblant is another popular destination in Quebec but also one that comes with some stellar trails worth a day trip. Sometimes getting to the top of the mountain requires the most direct path, and that's what the Grand Prix des Couleurs is: a straight shot from the base to the summit. Because the trail is so steep, it's labelled an advanced path and is strenuous despite appearances. The trail itself is 5.5km, but don't let that distance fool you -- this is not an easy hike. Technically, it will take you around two hours to get to the top of the trail, but many have taken much longer due to the path's never-ending incline.
Le Grand Tour Trail, Yamaska
Hiking Time: 2-4 hours
Quebec's Eastern Towships are best known for sprawling summer lake houses, but this part of the province also includes the Parc Nationale de la Yamaska and its lengthy Le Grand Tour trail. This trail will take you through 18.4km of beautiful nature preserve complete with wooded areas and plenty of fresh air. The trail is ideal for beginners and families but maybe too long for younger hikers. Dogs and mountain bikes are welcome along the trail, making it the perfect spot for a day trip if you're in the townships or just passing through.
Cavalry Hike, Oka
Hiking Time: 1.5 hours
Elevation: 328 feet
Oka is home to several trails, but the Cavalry Hike (Calvaire d'Oka) is one of the best ways to see wildlife and explore it without relying on well-travelled and marked paths -- which is a bonus to some hikers seeking a rougher route. While the trail is marked moderate and is accessible enough for beginners, it's a steep up-and-down route that doesn't disappoint. The Cavalry Hike is also a great trail running option with plenty of room to run on the broad path. There are three chapels on the trail, making it a fun step into the past and a great place to explore. Be careful when descending the trail as markers are not indicated, making finding your way back to the parking lot a bit tricky (but doable).
Sentier Notre-Dame, Kapatakan
Hiking Time: 13-15 days
The Sentier Notre-Dame Kapatakan trail is part of a pilgrimage route that winds its way from the Parc National du Fjord-du-Saguenay (Saguenay Fjord Park) to L'Ermitage Sant-Antoine de Lac-Bouchette. The trail begins amidst granite cliffs, winds its way through an urban river landscape, and ends in a lush forest. There are few trails with scenery as varied as this one making it a popular destination with hikers seeking breathtaking views and a unique trail challenge. The terrain is moderate and can be enjoyed by all levels. You can choose to follow part of the trail for a few kilometres or bring your camping gear and set up overnight (you'll want to grab a trail guide if you decide to do this) covering 20kms per day. Bridges, wooded walkways, religious statues, and other relics await hikers that day trip to Kapatakan.
Les Cascades Trail
Hiking Time: 1-2 hours
Elevation: 100 ft
Les Cascades is a 4km trail near Stoneham-et-Tewkesbury in Shawinigan, QC is a picturesque trail that's an excellent start for new hikers. Some people have noted that the trail isn't the best option for younger kids due to rocky terrain and steep parts. Still, it is a great way to explore this part of the province, view fields of wildflowers, and enjoy views of cascading streams -- a great way to clear your head if the city landscape becomes too much and you need a quick break. Because the trail is only 4km, it doesn't take long to complete (about an hour without frequent breaks), but it's recommended that you stay and linger on this trail as long as possible to take in all the surroundings have to offer. You'll want solid trail shoes for Les Cascades as it can get rocky in parts. Make sure to stop and sniff the pines on your way!
Les Crêtes, Mont Orford
Hiking Time: 9 hours
Mont Orford in Quebec's Eastern Townships is known for its skiing hills during the winter months, but hikers have long known that the Les Cretes trail is the perfect spot for a long and rugged hike during warmer seasons. This is a mountain hike, so expect high elevations, steep rocky terrain, and flatter and simpler parts. Start at the North Stairs (Escalier du Nord) and head towards the Pic de la Roche-Fendue, where you'll see amazing views of Lake Stukey. From there, trek to Pic de l'Ours lookout where you'll be able to see the entire region before you (a great spot for photos). La Grande Coulée trail will take you back to the ski centre where you can head down the mountain and back to your car or rest and relax. This trail is complicated and is not recommended for small children or beginners.
La Croisée, Parc National De La Jacques-Cartier
Hiking Time: 4.5 hours
Hikers seeking an all-day adventure should head to the Parc National de la Jacques-Cartier (Jacques-Cartier National Park) in Stoneham-et-Tewkesbury, Quebec. There are a lot of trails that are accessible through this national park. Still, La Croisee is one of our favourites because it is longer, has intermediate terrain with breathtaking views, and isn't the most popular route in the park, making it less travelled (and a bit more serene than other trails in the park). You'll hike through deep gorges on this trail and encounter some rougher parts, but the trail is well-marked and makes for a great day trip if you're in for a few kilometres. There are plenty of bed and breakfast options in the area if you want to make the park a weekend adventure.
Le Courir des Bois, Duchesnay
Hiking Time: 5.5h
Here's one for the trail runners: Le Courir des Bois in Duchesnay isn't for the faint of heart, but it is an unusual running path and hiking trail that's entirely carved by nature. Located in the Duchesnay region, Le Courir des Bois is precisely how it sounds: a run through the woods. There are technically over 20kms of trails in this region, but the "woods run" will put your trail shoes to the test with 16kms of rocky hills to help you build endurance. Because this trail is rough (and we're not saying that lightly!), it's not a trail to try if you are new to trail running or don't have the right gear. However, it is one of the best options if you're somewhat experienced and looking for a serious run or strenuous hike.
La boucle du Sentier des Escarpements, Parc National du Mont Megantic
Hiking Time: 2h
Mont Megantic is home to Quebec's ASTROlab and is a must-see destination for all levels. You can visit the lab and observe the stars during the daytime or during special evening hours, but the park itself boasts several trails that seem to connect the earth and the sky. One of the most popular trails with intermediate hikers it La boucle du Sentier des Escarpements, which is a 6.7km trail in the park's relatively new Franceville sector. You'll experience stretches of moss and lichen, panoramic views, and massive boulders along the way. The trail will take roughly 2 hours to complete and is a great way to explore the area between the Canadian and US border. Surrounded by a ring of mountains and streams, this trail is ideal for most hikers with some experience.
Acropole-des-Draveurs trail, Malbaie
Hiking Time: 3-4h
The Acropole-des-Draveurs trail near Saint-Aime-des-Lacs in Malbaie, Quebec, is one of the best-known spots to stop and enjoy wild blueberries or pick some edible mushrooms (if you know what to look for!). The trail features three summits, with the top being the most popular option. While the views from the top of this trail are incredible (and, honestly, one of the best prospects in the area), the trail itself is quite popular, making it crowded on summer days. If you want to explore Acropole-des-Draveurs and all it has to offer (and recommend that you try it out at least once), it's a good idea to go early and head back just as crowds are coming in. The trail is rated difficult but is mostly long rather than hard and can be enjoyed by anyone seeking to put in a few hours of work.
Frontier Trail, Mont Gosford
Hiking Time: 4h
Mont Gosford offers the highest peaks in Quebec. Suppose you've travelled to Maine in the United States. In that case, you might be familiar with the other side of this mountain called Katahdin, a popular hiking spot for serious trekkers throughout New England (and features some trails that are reserved for skilled climbers). Mont Gosford is part of the White Mountain chain and is one of the best spots for experiencing some serious height in the province. You can easily go off-trail at Mont Gosford, but one of the most popular options is the Frontier Trail (FS6). This trail includes a stunning waterfall and is moderately trafficked but remains a solid advanced trail due to its rocky and steep terrain.
Les Graves, Forillon National Park
Hiking Time: 4h
If you start at L'Anse-aux-Amérindiens and continue on Les Graves, you'll be hitting the last leg of the larger trail that totals about 8km up and back. If you want a bit more of a challenge, take Les Graves starting at Grande-Grave for 15.2km. The shorter part of this trail is included in this list because it comes with one of the most beautiful land and sea views we've seen. When you reach Cap-Gaspe, you'll see a lighthouse that is now entirely powered by solar and is wholly automated but once was manned by a lighthouse guard. The lighthouse is perched atop a 95-meter-high cliff that overlooks the sea, and we can't think of a better way to spend the day if you have a few hours to kill and are in the Gaspe area.
Canyon Saint-Anne, Beaupre, QC
Hiking Time: 1h
Sometimes hiking on your own isn't doable, and for those times, a picturesque trail that's not overly difficult is the best option. If you find yourself near Quebec City and need some nature, Canyon Saint-Anne will give you the peace of mind you're seeking without requiring a 4-day trek. This canyon features suspended footbridges that traverse the canyon's gorge and are not for the faint of heart. Because the path is well-travelled and wide, this is an excellent option for beginners or families with kids. You'll enjoy a leisurely hike and amazing views, and if you're still feeling adventurous, you can jump on a zip line and fly through the forest.
Le Tour du Mont Albert
Hiking Time: 7h
Mont Albert is part of the popular Chic Choc range in Gaspesie National Park. Le Tour du Mont Albert is the longest trail in the park, making it the hardest. The trail will take you through the summit before reaching the plateau, and then it's a very steep way down to the Grande Cuve. Once you descend, rocks will greet you as you make your way to the Serpentine shelter (you'll need a pause once you reach this point!). The trail and park are home to many caribou, and Quebec protect the caribou population by closing the trail on September 30, so make sure to head to Gaspesie before October begins. Because the park is also a wildlife preserve, you'll want to bring a camera to capture some close encounters with the park's inhabitants.
La Roche, Mont Tremblant
Hiking Time: 3h
Mont Tremblant is home to a lot of trails, including La Roche, an intermediate trail spanning just over 5km. The trail itself is well-maintained and travelled but does come with some spectacular views of Lake Monroe. If you're in the Tremblant area during the fall months, La Roche is a particularly lovely hike that affords some fantastic views of green and gold leaves high atop the lookout. This is a trail that you can do with kids, older hikers, and if you're starting out or want a leisurely hike that will make you sweat but won't require any hiking gear. Plenty of accommodations are available in the Mont Tremblant area, and parking is plentiful though you will have to pay to access the mountain and its trails.
La Baie Trail, Charlevoix
Hiking Time: 3h
Charlevoix is a popular destination for whale watchers, but few know of its hiking trails. La Baie trail extends across Baie-St-Paul and comes with some great views of the backcountry at the start. Once you're through the first few kilometres, you'll find yourself immersed in a lush forest where you may be tempted to sit down and reflect for a few moments or hours. Footbridges, wooden walkways, and plenty of wildlife can be seen on this trail. The trail itself is marked intermediate due to some steep inclines and declines, but it's so strenuous that you can't make it if you are new to hiking. At 11 kilometres, La Baie is also a decent workout.
Mont Des Morios Loop
Hiking Time: 8h
Notre-dame-des-Monts is located in the Charlevoix region and is home to one of the longest trails in the area, the Mont Des Marios Loop. This trail's loop configuration makes it relatively easy, but it is still a strenuous trek due to its length. That said, the path is worth seeing for its waterfall, lush woods, and incredible viewpoints. If you have a full day to kill and need fresh air, the Mont Des Morios Loop is a great way to spend a fall or summer day. Be aware that hunting is permitted on the trail and in the area in general. Wearing bright colours during hunting season is a must when visiting the Mont Des Morios Loop.