Hiking Québec: Parc National du Bic
When asked for recommendations of things to see in Québec, nearly everyone consulted has mentioned either the Saguenay fjord or Gaspésie. Both are worthy of rave reviews, however, they are a bit too far from Québec City for a weekend camping trip. So, being eager to get out and explore in the warm weather, we decided to check out the Parc National du Bic for a little camping and hiking. Before leaving, we were surprised to find that many Québécois hadn’t even heard of the park, despite it’s being only about 3 hours away. I don’t understand why, because it is a gorgeous park worth knowing about.
We left home Friday in the mid-afternoon and arrived earlier than we expected by about 6pm. Luckily, the office was still open, so we were able to check in and get enough wood for the weekend. Setup of the new tent went smoothly, and we wasted no time building a fire and cooking up some dinner. The mosquitoes were swarming, but with the smoke from the fire we were able to keep them at bay. We sat up late by the campfire, enjoying the quiet of the evening and some s’mores, of course.
After a chilly night in the tent, we were up early to explore the park. Located on the south bank of the St. Lawrence, and much further up the river from Québec City, the Bic has a completely different landscape than the other parks we’d already visited. We had to keep reminding ourselves that we weren’t looking at the sea, but at the river. There was no shortage of breathtaking views.
The park features many different short trails that allow hikers to visit the coastal areas as well as the more forested parts. We combined several to make a big loop, taking in the numerous bays and tidal pools, cliffs and forests that make up the park. We crossed paths with few others, though we did see some deer, 2 foxes, and a pair of eider ducks. We were thrilled to finally be able to observe so much wildlife, since it seems we must have an animal-repelling force field around us everywhere we go. Unfortunately, the mosquitos were unfazed by all our attempts to repel them. Even Deet proved to be no match for those evil, flying vampires. In the forested parts of the trail, we were constantly under siege, despite being covered up from head to toe and doused in Deet. So, being the intrepid explorers that we are, we fled back to the safety of our campsite.
The second morning, we woke early again and drove to the far side of the park to look for seals at low tide. After enjoying our breakfast overlooking the bay and its islands, we finally spotted one of the seals the Bic is known for, posing on a rock in its trademark banana shape. Later in the summer they should be more numerous, and therefore easier to spot. Having explored the park quite thoroughly the day before, and also reluctant to face the mosquitoes again, we decided to pack up camp and head home. We took our time, enjoying the views of the river and stopping for smoked fish at a fumoir, lunch at a casse-croute and ice cream sundaes at a bar laitier. The drive was quite scenic and we hope to return. Perhaps we will also return to the Bic one day. I’d love to explore the islands and coves by kayak, and maybe even see a seal up close.