"Winter Hiking in the Parc de la Jacques-Cartier" Quebec Travelogue by tayloretc
Quebec Travel Guide: 1,564 reviews and 3,453 photos
The southern-most part of the Parc National de la Jacques-Cartier is about half an hour north of Quebec City. It’s a huge park, surrounded by an even larger wildlife reserve, and in winter there are hiking and snowshoeing trails, and long cross country ski trails, some taking several days to complete.
Day hikes are possible, although you won’t get too far into the park – in winter, the road further into the interior is closed to cars about 3km from the main gate. There are signs along the way, although the arrows didn’t always mark the trail, exactly – more like “somewhere near here there’s a left you’ll want to take,” and I’m not convinced of the accuracy of the trail map. We only had to backtrack once, so it’s all good enough.
It’s a beautiful place, and startlingly quiet. Both times I’ve been, I haven’t crossed paths with more than a dozen people during several hours of walking. I can only imagine what it would be like on those longer trails – no one for miles and miles.
Most of the day hike trails are on or around a small ridge, with the longest single circuit being maybe 8km. The toughest stretch of trail might be called moderate by AMC standards. It’s slippery, especially at the top of the ridge, where there were some icy stairs (the top part of that trail was closed), but you’d have to work at it to hurt yourself too badly.
The rest of the trails go around the edges, or down on flatter land that would have brooks and ponds in warmer weather.
The park is accessible by car or bus, and you can rent snowshoes at the main gate. It goes without saying that winter hiking is cold – the photos here were taken on a day it was about -15°C (5°F) – and you shouldn’t assume there’s anywhere to warm up (we tried one of the shelters, locked). All the services are closed, too.
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