Parc National de la Gaspesie

Driving east from Mantane, Quebec, one soon encounters side ridges of the Northern Appalachians, some of which end abruptly at the edge of the St. Lawrence Estuary.  At Sainte Anne des Monts, we turned south, climbing into the Appalachians via Route 299 and soon entering Parc National de la Gaspesie, greeted by a high wall of peaks.  After curving along the banks of the Saint Anne River, we stopped for hiking recommendations at the Parc's Visitor Center.

On our first day in the Parc, we hiked to the summit of Mont Ernest-LaForce, 820 meters, which offers a panorama of the high ridges; many of the peaks exceed 3000 feet and a few top out above 4000 feet.  After descending from that spectacular vista, we hiked to the western edge of Lac aux Americains, a scenic mountain lake, backed by a horseshoe of rugged cliffs and peaks.  Finally, an evening hike took us along the beautiful Saint Anne River, with its cascades, whitewater rapids and calm, clear pools.

Following a night at the Gite du Mont-Albert (the Parc's lodge), we set out for a loop hike this morning.  The first section took us across the eastern flank of South Albert Peak on the Serpentine Trail; we then descended through the scenic Diable Creek Valley to beautiful Lac du Diable before returning across the rocky crest of Mont Olivine (670 meters).  Red squirrels scolded us along the way and a variety of northern forest birds were encountered, including common ravens, black-capped chickadees, red-breasted nuthatches, golden-crowned kinglets, white-throated sparrows and dark-eyed juncos; of course, within a few weeks, many of these birds will trade the pristine mountain forests for suburban neighborhoods in the U.S., there to spend the colder months.