Parc National des Grands Jardins

Baie St Paul

Excellent hiking and rugged topography are the lures at this provincial park, which covers 310 sq km, much of it taiga. The hills frame more than 100 small lakes, and if you're lucky, you might spot caribou. The 8.6km (round-trip) trek up Mont du Lac-des-Cygnes (Swan Lake Mountain) is an exceptional half-day hike. You can test your climbing prowess on the Via Ferrata (adult/youth from $48.50/36.25, June to mid-October), with two different guided climbing routes.

One of the longest and most difficult continuous trails east of the Rockies, La Traversée stretches 100km from the park, snaking down the great valleys in the Parc National des Hautes Gorges de la Rivière Malbaie and winding up in the Parc National du Mont Grand-Fonds. An intermediate-level hiker needs about seven days for the full trek.

You can rent canoes, kayaks and bikes, and stay at primitive campsites (from $24), rustic, pioneer-style cottages, or larger cabins (from $115 for two people). Bring all necessary supplies. Information is available from the Mont du Lac-des-Cygnes Visitors Center.

To get to the park, take Rte 381 north from Baie St Paul; it's 30km to the visitor center and 46km to the main entrance. The park is open year-round, although services are more limited between mid-October and mid-May.