Canada’s province of Quebec (better known as la belle province) may be best known for its urban oases of Montreal and Quebec City, but there’s plenty of adventure to be had too.
The Charlevoix region is a hot spot for those who love the great outdoors. With the Saint Lawrence River on one side and the Laurentian Mountains on the other, the landscape lends itself to activities a plein air.
Rent a car in Quebec City and head northwest towards the forest, fjords and fun times.
If you’ve never heard of canyoning, you’re forgiven; it’s a relatively new sport that hasn’t gone mainstream quite yet. The premise is simple: slip on a wet suit, slap on a harness, tie yourself in, rappel down and feel the rush—literally and metaphorically.
Canyoning is equal parts adrenaline and sheer beauty. Although most people have had chances to appreciate a waterfall from a distance, few have had the opportunity to actually stand inside of one. The sheer quantity of water, the power of the falls and the booming sounds will give you a whole new appreciation for Mother Nature. Whether you choose a half day intro course, a multi-day canyoning trek or a wintertime ice canyoning adventure, chances are good you’ll come out hooked. And a little wet.
Sea Kayaking with Whales
The mighty Saint Lawrence River is a force to be reckoned with, and there’s no better way to experience it than in a sea kayak floating on the water’s surface.
The area’s unique geology means that the river drops off steep and fast, creating prime conditions for whales to swim super close to shore. Translation: you don’t have to paddle for hours for a chance at a face-to-face adventure with a beluga. Or a minke whale. Or even a blue whale.
When people think of epic hikes in Canada, Quebec isn’t necessarily the first place that comes to mind, but truthfully, it’s one of the country’s best-kept secrets. Rolling green mountains, dense forests and rushing rivers create the perfect backdrop for a trek in the great outdoors.
Options are plentiful: the Mestachibo Trail, part of the Trans Canada Trail, is a 12.5 km hike (or 25 km if you choose to do it return)—that’s just shy of 8 miles, or 16 miles return—that takes you up and down cliffs and bluffs, across suspension bridges and through the lush woods. It makes for a great day hike that showcases the region’s stunning features.
If you’re looking for something a bit longer, look no further than the Traversee de Charlevoix. This 105 km trail (65 miles) takes you through the hinterland of Charlevoix. Camping isn’t permitted along the trail, but a super cool hut system (complete with stoves and cooking gear) means you’ll sleep and eat like a king the entire time.
A few different provincial parks in the Charlevoix area offer Via Ferreta courses. Think of an obstacle course built right into nature: rappelling down rock, crossing suspension bridges with super spaced out planks, zip lining, the works. The adventure level is high, but the activity is safe and suitable for kids 10 and up. It’s a great way to instill a love of outdoor fun in the younger generation.
Some of the best skiing on the East Coast can be found in the Laurentian Mountains of Charlevoix. Le Massif is probably the best-known ski area, and it’s the perfect place to get your fix of snow in the winter months. It features the highest vertical (2,526 feet, to be exact) east of the Canadian Rockies. With more than 400 acres of skiable terrain, odds are good you won’t get bored. There’s also snowshoeing and cross-country skiing at the resort.
There’s no better place to take part in the quintessentially Canadian activity of dog sledding than Charlevoix. If you’re a dog lover, a dog sledding trek just might be one of the most memorable experiences of your life. These dogs work seriously hard, but they also have extremely loveable personalities. Bundle up, and head out for a few hours—or better yet, go out for a few days and learn to mush your own sled. It’s an adventure you’ll never forget.