Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier, Stoneham-et-Tewkesbury, QC, Canada
Driving time from Quebec City
7 (5 backcountry, 2 serviced)
Trails to explore
How cushy you want to get is your choice, just remember that when you’re backcountry camping you have to carry everything. Go easy on yourself with a lightweight tent, a down sleeping bag you can squish and roll, and a sleeping pad to cushion your back from tree roots. Unless you’re staying at one of the frontcountry sites, you’ll likely want to leave the hefty cooler and favourite chaise lounge behind for this trip.
At Jacques-Cartier National Park, the walk-in backcountry sites are accessible within 100m to 2.5km, which is a short jaunt compared with backcountry sites at many other parks. Each site has a fire pit, a picnic table and a pit toilet. Pack a bear bag to hang anything with a sweet or food-like odour in a tree. To help keep the park pristine, follow the 7 tips to camp responsibly.
Other camp options
If you’re more into the frontcountry camping scene (where you can drive in), the park’s Alluvions and La Bétulaie campgrounds have 78 vehicle accessible sites. They come with all the things that make camping easier: electricity, water and showers. Don’t have your own camping equipment or have a camping trip planned when the weather looks iffy? Rent a Huttopia tent that comes with all your camping essentials, including beds and a propane heater. The park also has nine cabins and five yurts.
Trails while you’re there
The park has over 100km of hiking trails, most of which are easy or intermediate. For a more challenging trek, you can take on Les Loupes or Le Scotora, whose optional detour onto L’Andante leads to a 809m-high lookout. There are also around 30km of mountain bike trails that range from relaxing to tougher. To help you figure out how to pack in all there is to do, check out the free Park Path Explorer app – it suggests and describes trails and discovery points, complete with maps and photos.
Hit the water
Canoeists, kayakers and whitewater rafters can tackle the Jacques-Cartier river while enjoying killer views of the 400-m tree-covered cliffs on either side. There are also opportunities for tubing, and small group excursions by Rabaska Canoe. One section of the river is tame enough for stand-up paddleboarding. All watercraft and accessories are available for rent on site. And don’t worry, if you don’t have an extra vehicle, the park’s shuttle service will take you and your canoe or kayak up or down river.