Eastern Townships Trail

fec9c0a7Les Sentiers de l’Estrie (very roughly translated for our purposes as The Eastern Townships Trail) is a 156 km linear trail in southern Québec, situated about 100 km east of Montreal. The main trail runs from the Canada / US border (Québec / Vermont) and roughly sticks to a north / south direction, summiting several peaks en route. There are 84 additional kilometers in connected side trails and other associated disjointed trails.

Near the southern terminus at the US border, the trail meets the legendary Long Trail of Vermont. Running the length of the state, the Long Trail roughly follows the Green Mountain Range for 439 km and shares treadway with the Appalachian Trail for 160 km. The combined length of all hiking accessible from this network of trails is 680 km, not including the remainder of the AT.

Despite the region being near major population centres (Montreal, Sherbrooke) the landscape is said to be comprised of 80℅ parkland and forest. In addition to hiking, the area is also a winter playground for downhill skiing with two dozen peaks @ over 1000m.

Frontier Trail

frontier-trails-1Sentiers Frontaliers (translated to Frontier or Border Trail) is an 81 km main trail that hugs the Canada / US border (Quebec / Maine). There is a side trail that brings the total to 135 km – this leads to Mont Mégantic, home to a Québec provincial park which itself has a network of shorter trails.

The main trail follows the border closely, often using the actual border cut line, and eventually deviates to enter an ecological reserve and summits Mount Gosford in the Appalachian White Range.

In the south west, Frontier turns to meet the Cohos Trail of New Hampshire – another 265 km / 165 miles of path heading south through the US.

Saguenay Fjord National Park

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This Québec park straddles a fjord on the northern shore of the St. Lawrence River.

While many paths on the north side of the St. Lawrence in Québec tend to be part of the National Trail in Québec (the SNQ), this one appears to be autonomous. It is however close enough to the SNQ to make it’s location convenient for anyone wanting to explore the area for more than a few days.

The park itself appears to have several shorter trails plus some options in wilderness routes, as well as several options for climbing, including one of the more popular via ferrata in Québec.

Pingualuit National Park

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It’s unclear if this area is accessible to the individual hiker or if all inclusive packages have to be arranged.

Transport (or hike) from Kangiqsujusaq Village to Pingualuit Park (near Crater) is about 90km.

Details on 70km backcountry loop through conservation area:
~ From Crater To Northern Camp Site at Puvirnituq River = 20km
~ From Northern Camp Site to Western Camp Site along Puvirnituq River to Puvirnituq & Lamarche River Junction = 20km
~ From Western Camp Site, return over land to Crater = 29km

IAT in Québec

cartesentier_sia2012_p2 Quite confusingly, this trail is know in English as the IAT-QC (International Appalachian Trail in Québec) or in French as the SIA-QC (Sentier International des Appalaches au Québec). In addition, the trail is know by a third acronym – the GR-A1 – using the European technique for naming hiking trails with numbers preceded with GR (Grande Randonnée in French, Grote Routepaden in Dutch, Grande Rota in Portuguese or Gran Recorrido in Spanish). For simplicity, I’ll refer to it as the IAT in Québec.

After leaving New Brunswick, the IAT in Québec crosses over hills and valleys from south to north on the Gaspé Peninsula. Upon reaching a large wildlife reserve followed by a Québec provincial park, it turns east to climb the Chic-Chocs Mountains. It continues on the peaks of the Chic-Chocs east until leaving the park, then again turns north, leaving the mountains and heading for the coast. It follows the coast east until reaching the end of the peninsula at a National Park and the Atlantic Ocean. Depending on the source, the IAT in Québec is said to cover from 600 to 650km, with the GPS files as of fall 2016 giving a total of somewhere around 640km.

Note that the association of the IAT in Québec seem to have generously made an effort to include info online for non-French speakers. The English site at this time however seems to be incomplete and little more than a machine translated version. As such, a browser installed plug-in for Google Translate with the French language site will likely give a more complete experience.

National Trail in Québec, SNQ

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The National Trail in Québec (referenced online as SNQ, or Sentier National au Québec) is a combination of trails stretching largely through the forest mountains north of the St. Lawrence River. The trail is developed by a number of smaller parks, municipalities and organizations along it’s length, but is overseen by Rando Québec, formerly the Québec Federation of Walking.

During the transition to Rando Québec, it has become a little harder to find detailed path info online. It is clear however that suggestions that the path is actively in development are accurate. When one examines the maps available through Rando Québec, it’s also clear that while the path does utilize some non single track woods trails, there seems to be a deliberate intention to stick to single track forest path whenever possible.