Hiking Québec: L’Acropole des Draveurs – Le Parc National des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie

During the Patriot’s Day (or Victoria Day in the rest of Canada) holiday weekend, we decided to venture a little farther from Québec to the Parc National des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie. With the forecast predicting summer temperatures all weekend, we were itching to get outside again and also do a little camping. Since we hadn’t yet bought a tent, we thought we’d try out the Huttopia tents that are a newer feature of the SEPAQ park network.

Sunset in the park.

Arriving in the afternoon, we were too late to do the best hike in the park, l’Acropole des Draveurs, so we just explored the area around the visitor center and enjoyed the warm weather. In order to limit traffic in the park, visitors are asked to use the shuttle bus to get around. The last shuttle is at 6pm, so unless you bring your own bike or feel like walking a few extra kilometers, you are pretty much obligated to organize your time around that. Had we been able to bring our own bikes, we could have probably done our hike. But it all turned out for the best as we were able to beat the crowds, and the heat, by starting out early the following morning.

A section of the trail.

We caught the first shuttle at 8am and had the trail to ourselves. As the day wore on, we were quite happy to have already finished the extremely difficult first 2 kilometers before the worst heat of the day set in. The trail starts off with a fairly steep climb for 2 kilometers with lots of stairs and rocks that really challenged my short legs. Though difficult, it’s a very beautiful part of the trail as it follows a nice cascading stream. At kilometer 3 the trail levels out a bit, and is probably the easiest part of the hike. But it’s still climbing! Around the 4th kilometer the vegetation starts getting smaller and the trail gets steeper, before you reach the first summit. This is near where we spotted a spruce grouse hiding in the boreal undergrowth.

View from the first summit.

The last kilometer is from the first summit to the third, each one slightly higher than the last. After resting a while and eating lunch on the third summit, we reluctantly started the descent. Due to its steepness, the trail is just as difficult going down and by the end my knees were on fire and my legs had turned to jelly. We passed tons of other hikers who were on their way up, and there was no longer much shade on the trail. At nearly 30°C (86°F) and almost out of water, we were parched and crispy by the time we finished. All in all, a great hike to do if you’re in the area. The views are stunning and it’s interesting to see arctic vegetation without going too far north. If you’re lucky, which we weren’t, you may even see a caribou!

View from the third summit.

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