Six Awesome Outdoor Activities in Charlevoix, Quebec

https://www.flickr.com/photos/iwana/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.

Canyon­ing
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.

©istockphoto/pchouiHik­ing
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.

Via Fer­re­ta
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.

Ski­ing
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.

Dog Sled­ding
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.