You don’t always have to dive headlong into winter. You can choose to rise above it. Grands-Jardins national park is a little piece of northern Quebec accessible via Saint-Urbain, Baie-Saint-Paul’s beautiful neighbor. This majestic park offers pure Nordic adventure. Tempting, no?
Grands-Jardins national park spans 310 square kilometers and is a key part of the Charlevoix Biosphere Reserve. The area is inhabited by friendly, photogenic wildlife, including woodland caribou and the spruce grouse, the region’s iconic animal.
The landscape is made up of snowy valleys, rocky headlands, and jagged summits. In winter, there are 64 kilometers of snowshoeing trails and numerous cross country trails through the majestic spruce forests. You can stop by Lac Pointu to warm up a bit by the fire.
The Pioui, Gros Pin, and Chouenne snowshoeing trails are the most popular. Chouenne takes you up Mont-du-lac-des-Cygnes. It’s relatively easy to climb to the top if you stop to catch your breath and admire the scenery. The 360-degree view is awe-inspiring. Despite the snow, you can still make out the 54 km wide crater caused by a meteorite over 360 million years ago and the slopes formed by its impact, including Les Éboulements directly in front.
Just a few kilometers from Baie-Saint-Paul, Pied-des-Monts is the easiest area to get to and a number of trails start there. You can even snowshoe 400 m from the parking lot and pitch a tent for some winter camping. If you leave from Étang Malbaie, you have to snowshoe along a 3.5 km trail to reach the campsite, where you’ll also be able to enjoy some ice fishing, if you’re there in February.