Most of Quebec’s population is located in the southern part of the province. Travelling north of the St. Lawrence reveals wilderness areas filled with pristine lakes and rivers, dense forests, marshes, towering mountains and even fjords. Let's explore!
Saguenay Fjord National Park
Over 100 km long and two to four km wide, Saguenay is a striking fjord in Quebec. Both shores of the fjord are in the national park, which offers hiking, biking and outdoor adventure activities.
Your first stop should be the Baie Eternite Discovery and Visitors’ Centre. Find information for nearby trails and book activities like guided hikes, overnight sailboat excursions and guided kayak and zodiac tours. Set up camp in one of the ready-to-camp tents—BYO sleeping bag and pillow—or rent a cabin.
For amazing views of the fjord, hike the Statue Trail, a 7.6-km mostly uphill trek along the fjord’s highest cliffs. The trail culminates at an outlook point where a 7.5-m tall statue of the Virgin Mary, installed in 1881, towers vigilantly over the fjord.
Darryl Leniuk-Tourisme Saguenay-Lac Saint-Jean
From the Centre, you can also access rock climbing (for experienced climbers only), or get your adrenaline pumping on the Via Ferrata des Geants. Scale cliff faces and cross a 85-metre suspended footbridge (don’t look down!). The fjord’s cliffs are home to peregrine falcons, so keep your eyes peeled for these birds of prey.
It’s also here you will find the pilgrimage trail, Sentier Notre-Dame-Kapatakan, which ends at Lac Bouchette. This 215-km trail takes you along roads and through paths in the woods, overnighting at auberges or campsites.
Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park
Inside the park, you'll find a National Marine Conservation Area. The fjord provides a home to more than 1,600 marine species, including several types of whales (it’s known for its belugas), harbour porpoises, dolphins and seals.
This amazing marine life (nevermind the incredible scenery) makes the fjord a fun place to get out on a kayak. But with tides up to six feet, an average crossing width of two km, a depth of 270 m and a hefty current, unless you’re an expert kayaker, it’s recommended that you go out with a guide. Fjord en Kayak is located in L’Anse-Saint-Jean, one of the quaint, culturally rich villages on the shores of the fjord. They offer guided tours ranging from a few hours to a few days, complete with gourmet meals.
A regular shuttle service also runs up and down the fjord, with drop-offs at trailheads and villages. During the ride, a guide shares local history and points of interest. When the shuttle passes under the Notre Dame of Saguenay statue, they cut the engines and play Ave Maria. It's so hauntingly beautiful, it will bring tears to your eyes.
La Seigneurie du Triton, Mauricie Region
Next door, the Mauricie region, with numerous lakes, rivers and dense forests, is famous for its fish and game. In the late 1800s, hunting and fishing clubs opened to cater to wealthy sportsmen that flocked to this area for the abundance of wildlife, like moose, bear, walleye and speckled trout.
One of the most oldest clubs in North America is the Triton Fish & Game Club. With its elegant wilderness clubhouse built in 1897, prestigious members included Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Churchill and Roosevelt.
Today, Triton is a lovely destination for any outdoor enthusiast, (think all-age, all-inclusive summer camp with gourmet food accessible only by water). The lodge remains largely unchanged, filled with memorabilia, old photos, newspaper clippings, animal pelts and trophy heads. Fishing and hunting packages are still available.
From the lodge you can explore the many hiking trails, go canoeing, kayaking, SUPing or arrange a fishing lesson. Guided adventures are available daily. Sign up for activities like the moose observation tour. A five-a.m. canoe paddle will take you downstream through the mist, river grasses and yellow pond lilies, before heading off on a silent hike through the bush (don’t forget your mosquito spray) to the edge of the marshes. Rutting season in October is the best time to glimpse moose.
Another guided canoe paddle and hike will take you to the old Triton train station (still serviced today by Via Rail) where you can view a lovely restored wooden trestle bridge. Along the way, your guide will teach you about local flora like the carnivorous pitcher plant, Labrador tea and dangerous peat bogs.
Does it get any more wild?