Parc national des Grands-Jardins, Clermont, QC, Canada
Driving time from Quebec City
Pick your base camp
Parc National des Grands-Jardins has four different drive-in campgrounds plus backcountry options, cabins and ready-to-camp huttopia tents for those who aren’t quite ready to commit to their own tent purchase. If it’s your first time checking out the park, the Arthabaska ground might be the one for you as it is close to the Arthabaska Discovery and Visitor Centre.
The park has more than 30km of hiking trails for you to check out, and they cover a wide variety of landscapes including taiga, tundra, deciduous forest, boreal forest and mountain vegetation. The Mont du Lac-des-Cygnes trail may be a little bit of a challenge for beginners with a 480m climb, but the view from the top makes it all worthwhile. If you’re willing to make the trip, you’ll get a panoramic view of the park and its 300-million-year-old crater.
Make sure you’ve got a good pair of hiking boots, a raincoat, and a comfortable backpack with your hiking must-haves so you can explore no matter what the weather brings.
Bring your binoculars
For a park at such a southern latitude, there’s plenty of wildlife to keep an eye out for. The main one? A herd of woodland caribou (an at-risk species) that likes to dine on greens called lichen in the park. Back at your campsite, you might spot smaller park inhabitants like a porcupine or a spruce grouse.
Climb a via ferrata
Always wanted to try climbing but don’t know where to start? The guided via ferrata is great even if you have no experience scaling rock faces. It’s a combo of hiking and climbing, and you stay safely attached to the rock face at all times. Your safety equipment comes with your guided via ferrata, but it’s a good idea to bring along a hydration pack, sunglasses that you can attach to you (so you don’t lose them mid-rock face), bug and sun protection, and a pair of gloves.