5 Wilderness Escapes in Quebec: Horseback, Hike & Bike

Quebec is a province of extreme contrasts, where historic castles and downtown skylines stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the great outdoors. From day hikes to winter sports, our local insider Fiona shares her top five day-trips to throw in the mix.

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Take a Hike in Aiguebelle National Park

Take a walk across the 64m long suspension bridge that sways 22m above Lake Haie from edge-to-edge in Aiguebelle National Park.

This protected wilderness in western Quebec is full of geological treasures, like the enormous stone formations known as “Giant's kettles” or the abundance of quartz in rocks all around.

Here, two lakes are separated by only a kilometer, yet flow in different directions due to glacier pressure causing an ancient fault line. Take 220 steps up the cliff side, or opt for a canoe or kayak to paddle around the lakes.

In the colder months when the snow falls, snowshoes or backcountry skis help adventure seekers navigate the stunning terrain.

The park is located in Abitibi Temiscamingue, an approximate 7hr drive from Montreal.

 

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Hike to Lusk Cave & Pink Lake in Gatineau Park

Gatineau Park attracts 2.7 million tourists a year – which is no surprise, as it’s a short drive from the metropolis of Ottawa, Ontario.

Pink Lake is a deceiving attraction – despite its name, the lake actually has a turquoise appearance. The water is part of a meromictic system, which means the upper and lower layers of water never mix, creating a unique biodiversity.

Elsewhere in the park, you’ll find waterfalls, but be sure to find the Lusk Caves.  To reach the caves, take a scenic hike through Gatineau Park. Before you go, don't forget to pack swimmers and sturdy hiking boots.

Under an hour’s drive from Gatineau is Tremblant village, a top spot for skiers and snowboarders, featuring a ski hill, shops, restaurants, and hotels – as well as all the splendor of the Laurentian region.

Pink Lake, Gatineau. Photo credit: iStock

Horseback Riding, Beaches & Biking in the Laurentians

Find four seasons of fun in 8,494mi2 (22,000km2) of unspoiled wilderness in the Laurentians, just a short drive north of Montreal.

In the summer, go horseback riding, hiking, relax on the beaches, hire a kayak, and mountain bike through the mountains. In winter you can ski, snowshoe, go tubing down thrilling hills, or even take part in a dog sled ride.

Canoeing in Mauricie National Park, the Laurentian mountains. Photo credit: iStock

Make Saguenay Your Playground

Just two hours away from Quebec City, you’ll find the waterfront communities of Saguenay welcoming travelers who love to get outside and explore the natural playground in one of their three national parks, and the marine park.

Whether you choose a solo adventure by sea kayak or take part in a tour on a zodiac, you’ll be amazed as you explore one of the world's longest fjords. Fjord-du-Saguenay National Park is also a great place for bird watchers, and keep your eyes peeled for moose, beaver, porcupine and even beluga whale.

Kayaking in Saguenay. Photo credit: iStock

Winter Wilderness

Winter sports seekers will find a winter wonderland just a 45-minute drive from Quebec City at Stoneham-et-Tewkesbury, or the Stoneham Mountain Resort, which is even closer to town.

This hill holds the title of Canada’s largest illuminated ski center, where visitors can ski, snowboard and take a turn at the Olympic half-pipe. With ski in, ski out accommodations and hot tubs, the apres ski amenities are almost as attractive as the powdered snow.

Whether you’re seeking remote backcountry camping or outdoor adventures closer to major cities, Quebec has you covered in breathtaking variety and heart-pounding, rugged, landscapes to explore.

Want to know more about Canada? Check out our podcast. We discuss when a traveler becomes a snack; the perils of wilderness adventure, a culinary tour of the provinces for foodies, and we speak to World Nomads photography scholarship mentor Richard I'Anson.

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