Seven Must-Do Day Hikes on the International Appalachian Trail

Gaspé Peninsula is a wide and sparsely populated area covered by forest and mountains. The IAT traverse the length of the peninsula, but not everybody wants to do the whole trek. If you want to explore this area but don’t have time for the whole thing, here are my seven favorite day hikes along this incredible stretch of the IAT.

3 Soeurs

Distance: 7km
Trail Type: Loop
Elevation Gain: 300 meters
Difficulty Level: Easy

Three Sister hike near Amqui

Les Trois Soeur (The Three Sisters) is an easy, well-maintained trail near the town of Amqui. At the top sits a shelter and a tent platform, plus you have a great view of Cascapédia Lake and its surroundings. It is the easiest trail in my selection and could be done with younger children. Going up, you cross a section with 400 meters of bog bridges—trail maintainers have put some serious care in building this part of the trail. It is not a long one to do, so it is a good hike to break up a long day on the road. For more info on how to get there, check out the official guide.

Nicol-Albert Mountain

Distance: 12.4km
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Elevation gain: 750 meters
Difficulty Level: Strenuous

Nicol-Albert mountain

Mount Nicol-Albert is one of the hardest hikes you can find in Québec, and offers a spectacular viewpoint of Cap-Chat River Valley below. It is also remote, so it is a great place to escape the crowds of the more popular trails in National Parks. There is no fee to hike in Matane Wildlife Reserve, but to get there, you must cross ZEC de la rivière Cap-Chat, who charges a toll on their road. Here is the official guide with details on how to get there.

What makes this mountain harder than it seems are the numerous small ups and downs on the first half of the trail. Once you reach the halfway point, you’ve only gained a third of the total elevation. The trail then goes sharply up following Beaulieu creek and its numerous waterfalls. Some sections require using your hands to climb up the path—maintainers have added ropes to help. Once you reached the top you can then go down to Le Bonhomme Viewpoint, located sharply down a short side trail with the help of a much-needed rope. You then reach a rock monolith and have a spectacular vantage point on the valley below.

The next three hikes are located in Gaspésie National Park. For more information, visit the SEPAQ website.  They sell an excellent paper map there that can help you to identify the nearby peaks once you reach the top of the mountain. There is a daily access fee to enter the park, located on 299 road.

Albert Mountain

Distance: 11.4km
Trail Type: Out-and-back back, can also be done as a 17.4km loop
Elevation Gain: 850m
Difficulty Level: Strenuous

Albert Mountain in Gaspesia

On Albert mountain you can do a out-and-back 11.4km hike or a spectacular 17.4km loop. For most of the hike you are under tree cover until you reach the last climb to a vast and treeless tableland. Up there the rocks are called serpentine and have an orange hue, the summit is also home to some unique flora, insects and you can sometimes see some woodland caribou. In fact you have a chance to see those animals anywhere above treeline in the park.

A little bit further than Les Rabougris day shelter you can reach a viewpoint overlooking a rocky valley on the other side of the tableland. With the orange rocks it really feels like you are somewhere else than earth. If you do the loop you them plunge into the valley for a very rocky and shadeless hike circumnavigating the mountain. Once you are done with the hike you should treat yourself at the Gîte du mont Albert, their food is pretty good.

Xalibu Mountain

Distance: 10.7km
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Elevation Gain: 540m
Difficulty Level: Moderate to strenuous

American's Lake near Xalibu

Xalibu must be my favorite mountain in the entire park. From up there, you have a view of Albert Mountain on one side and Jacques-Cartier Mountain on the other side. I also had my first hiker-trash moment up there in 2016, eating some food from the ground that wasn’t mine (hiker hunger is a real thing). You should not have this problem on a day hike!

Going up, you also cross Americans Lake, located in a lovely glacial cirque. The lake got is name after Americans in the geological expedition surveying the region were awed by the beauty of the place. Once you reach the top, you also have a view down the lake and can appreciate the effort that got you up there. A few years ago, they worked heavily on the trail to remove a lot of rocks, so even if it climbs 540meters, this trail is easier than it looks.

Mount Jacques-Cartier

Distance: 8.3km
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Elevation Gain: 460m
Difficulty Level: Easy to moderate

Mount Jacques-Cartier

Jacques-Cartier is the highest point on the IAT in Quebec. The summit is a treeless wide field of boulders swept by a constant wind, but you can shelter yourself in Éole observation tower for a lunch break. This mountain is easier than the other ones in the park because you first have to take a shuttle that climbs a few hundred meters of elevation gain. You then follow the old path of a road that was used in WWII for military purposes. From up there, on a clear day, you can see all the way to Mont Logan at the opposite side of the park.


Mont-St-Pierre

Distance: 4km
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Elevation Gain: 400m
Difficulty Level: Moderate—short but steep

View on Mont-St-Pierre

Mont-St-Pierre is a steep and rewarding hike that ends on a delta wing launch pad with a view of the village and Saint-Lawrence River below. The start of the hike is right on the side of the 132 road at the base of the mountain. At first the trail follows a road, but soon enough you take the Delta trail that has some sharp uphill. Once you reach the cross overlooking the valley, it is a short hike on a exposed ridge to the final summit. It is a great spot to watch a sunset.

Mont St-Alban

Distance: 9km
Trail Type: Loop
Elevation Gain: 280m
Difficulty Level: Easy

On top of mont St-Alban

If you have only one hike to do in Forillon National Park, this is the one. You start a Petit-Gaspé Beach—the hike is a loop that leads to an observation tower up on the ridge. From there, you can see the sea on both sides of you. You’ll also get a view of Cap-des-Rosiers Lighthouse and have a look at the end of the peninsula where the continental Appalachian mountains end. There is a fee to access the park, here is a guide for the hike.

Those are my seven favorite day hikes along the IAT in Quebec. Note that there are a lot more, especially in Gaspésie National Park so keep walking, happy trails!

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Comments 1

  • Avatar
    Paul Wayne Dominy (Preacher-man : Feb 4th

    Looks inviting.

    Reply

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