Backpacking the Chic-chocs will bring you across a 100-kilometre hiking trail through the Gaspésie mountains with stunning landscapes and wildlife. This expedition is a must for nature lovers and those thirsty for adventure. This guide is meant to make it easier for you to plan your adventure for the Chic-chocs Traverse.
About Parc national de la Gaspésie
The Parc national de la Gaspésie is recognized for its protection of the herds of caribou that inhabit the park and the iconic Mount Albert or even for the second-highest mountain in Quebec, Mont Jacques-Cartier. The Chic-Chocs and McGerrigle mountain ranges have created an incredible landscape through a sea of mountains. The footpath that traverses those mountains follows the International Appalachian Trail through several peaks of the Chics-Chocs and the McGerrigle Mountains.
Save it for later.
Planning the Chic-Chocs Traverse
I carry my backpacking gear in my 65 L backpack. Each item has its place, placing the heaviest near my back and the lightest next. Everything I need for an eight-day trek is in my bag. My backpack weighs 17 kg, including all my food and 3 L of water.
For more information on the essential backpacking gear, check out my Ultimate Guide to Backpacking.
Planning the Route
To properly plan your route, it is essential to consider your hiking abilities. Our abilities and the difficulty of the terrain determine the distance covered from day to day. The Parc national de la Gaspésie offers camping options to backpackers when planning the route, such as rustic campsites and huts.
Campsites and huts have access to water, usually a lake but sometimes a spring or a stream. Note that campfires are prohibited in the backcountry all through the park. Pit toilets are available at all campsites and shelters. The huts are also equipped with a wood stove and firewood.
I highly recommend buying the trail map to plan your route. I particularly appreciated the topographic section of the trail. The distances of some huts and campsites are indicated along with the elevation gain.
Backpackers can hike the trail from Mount Logan to the Discovery Center and then from Mount Jacques-Cartier back to the center. A shuttle is available to take them to both ends of the park to backpack their way back to the center. This route allows the park to manage the number of hikers on the trails, especially at Mount Jacques-Cartier, home to a herd of caribou.
When planning, keep in mind that the shuttle can make a stop at Le Pluvier and Le Huard huts before leaving you at the foot of Mount Logan. Backpackers can leave a package in the cabins.
I left my tent, my mattress and some food at Le Pluvier. I will need my tent only after my stop at Le Pluvier; all previous nights are in huts. This lightens the weight of my bag considerably for the first few days of backpacking.
It is essential to book as soon as possible since the availability of camping platforms and shelter beds disappear quickly once reservations are open. Reservations must be made by phone. You can visit the park’s website for contact details. During the phone call, the park attendant will inform you of the shuttle reservations that will take you from the Discovery Center to the trailhead.
Planning the Meals
Plan tasty and energetic meals on your backpacking trip with the help of this 5-day backpacking menu. The dehydrated meal recipes are simple, and the snacks are high in energy. Mix and match the ideas or repeat the meals and snacks you prefer.
On the trail
Day 1 on the Chic-Chocs Traverse
from Mount Logan to Le Carouge Hut –
The shuttle picks us up at the Discovery Center in the morning to take us to the end of the park at the foot of Mount Logan. I will have to return, hiking about 100 kilometres through the park.
The ride takes over two hours, with the last hour on a very bumpy road. Eric, the friendly shuttle driver, drops us off at the foot of Mount Logan, which is in the clouds today. I start my journey, eight days in this park, backpacking the Chic-chocs.
Moose count for the day: 2 🦌
Summit ⛰ Mont des Loupes at an altitude of 1076 m
Day 2 on the Chic-Chocs Traverse
from Le Carouge Hut to Le Huard Hut –
Departure from Le Carouge this morning towards Mount Jacques-Ferron. Lovely trail in the forest. Stunning landscapes! From the flanks of Mount Jacques-Ferron, you can see the wind turbines in the distance and the St. Lawrence River.
I stop at the Kalmia campsite for dinner on one of the platforms of the rustic camp in the company of mosquitoes. No summit today, and the animals remain hidden.
Le Huard is on the shore of Lac Thibault. I have company for the evening, sharing the hut with Emilie from Victoriaville and Joséphine and Marie-Victoire from France. I spent a beautiful evening in their company discussing our outdoors and travel adventures.
Day 3 on the Chic-Chocs Traverse
from Le Huard Hut to La Mésange Hut
Early start to the day, I am back on the trail in Emilie’s company for the next couple of days.
The trail brings us to three summits today:
Mont Arthur-Allan at an altitude of 980 m;
Mont du Blizzard at 976 m and;
Le Pic de l’Aube at 920 m came highly recommended and was well worth it. Great views of the park and the surrounding area along the St. Lawrence River.
I encountered no wildlife today except for a little mouse who tried to steal my pack of tissues during the night.
La Mésange is not on the shores of a lake like most of the huts on the trail. But, on the other hand, there is a stream close by as a water source.
Day 4 on the Chic-Chocs Traverse
from La Mésange Hut to Le Pluvier Hut –
We are greeted by a coyote on our way out of the shelter this morning. Beautiful animal. Fortunately, he seems calm and does not approach.
We are at the Pic du Brûlé summit at an altitude of 790 m early in the day. Again excellent views of the vastness of the park and the sea of mountains.
We come across moose bones on the trail; the skull and the jaw. Two little fox cubs 🦊 cross our path. They are not at all fearful, even though there is no mother in sight, surely little orphans.
Le Pluvier is on the shores of Lake Cascapedia. We end the day with a little canoe trip on the lake where we meet ducks, loons and two beavers swimming in the lake.
Day 5 on the Chic-Chocs Traverse
from Le Pluvier Hut to La Fougère Campground –
I leave the Pluvier this morning. It was my last night in a hut, I am now carrying my tent and my mattress that I had left here before leaving on the first morning. My bag is therefore a little heavier this morning.
This is the end of the road for my partner, I say goodbye to Emilie to continue my journey solo. Beautiful hike in the forest to the top of mount Ells at 1000 m altitude.
The road then continues towards the summit of Mont Du Milieu (the Middle mountain); this is the middle! Between Mount Logan at one end of the park and Mount Jacques-Cartier at the other end. Halfway done!
After a short break in the middle of the trail, I continue to the campsite La Fougère, the last kilometre in the rain. A day filled with beautiful views and a third moose at the top of mount Ells, a female I am told since she has no antlers.
Today, I met the young couple who accompanied me on the shuttle that first day. We cross paths several times during the day and end up being tent neighbours.
Day 6 on the Chic-Chocs Traverse
from La Fougère Campground to La Rivière Campground –
After a cold and windy night, my clothes still wet and cold, I’m ready to hit the road around 7 am. Here the sun rises earlier and at 4 am the birds have been singing for a while.
Today will be my biggest day in terms of distance including the iconic Mount Albert summit to look forward to! Several moose cross my path during the day, even a calf and its mother!
Moose count since the start of the trail: 10
The Summit of Mount Albert is very special and beautiful. At 1088 m high, the arctic-alpine climate prevails. The boreal forest gives way to the tundra and the rock (serpentine) found at the top gives Mount Albert a very different aspect from the other mountains in the park.
I walk a bit with my camping neighbours. We have the chance to play in the snow in July as part of the trail at the top is still covered in snow.
The descent is a long and difficult one. I have to scramble down boulders that make up the trail, which slows down my pace. I enjoy a long break for lunch at La Serpentine Hut. The trail follows the stream Diable and then the Sainte-Anne River. Falls and rapids are splendid and encourage us to continue.
The trail takes me back to the Discovery Center near La Rivière campground, where I spend the night. Tomorrow, the shuttle will take me to the other end of the park, at the foot of Mont Jacques-Cartier, for the last section of the trail.
Day 7 on the Chic-Chocs Traverse
from the Mount Jacques-Cartier trailhead to Le Tétras Hut –
After a much warmer night than the one before, I am ready to climb the highest mountain in the park and the second highest in the province of Quebec. The shuttle brings me to the foot of Mont Jacques-Cartier.
The climb is slow. The sun is beating down without a cloud and it’s 27 degrees today, unusually hot for this region. But I’m told it will be 10 degrees cooler at the top.
Mount Jacques-Cartier stands at an altitude of 1276 m and is home to a herd of caribou. Unfortunately, with the heat and the sun, the animals came down to hide among the pines. The top is completely bare, there are rocks, lichen, some small plants and of course snow! The trail is marked by cairns since there are no trees.
I spend the night at Le Tetras hut with seven other people. All the beds are occupied but all of the backpackers seem nice. Tomorrow will be my last day in the park. I will be hiking back to the Discovery Center.
Last Day of the Traverse
from Le Tétras to the Discovery Center –
This is my last day on the trail. I’m on my way early in the morning, the first and only mountain of the day is only two kilometres from the hut. Mont Xalibu at 1140 m in altitude offers a breathtaking landscape. There are only pebbles and rocks at the top but on all sides, it is a sea of mountains dotted with lakes here and there at different levels.
The descent of 1000 m over the next thirteen kilometres is not very pleasant on my toes but my spirits are high. I stop at Lac des Américains which offers a surprising view of the mountains in the background. My toes are glad to soak in the cold water of the lake while small trout wander between the legs of the swimmers.
I get back on the trail, the next stop, the Discovery Center; the end of the trail and the end of this adventure, backpacking the Chic-Chocs.
The journey is over; 100 kilometers of trail; 10 summits; moose; fox; a coyote; beavers; snow; new encounters from across the country and also from around the world. Backpacking the Chic-Chocs; an unforgettable experience!
More backpacking Adventures
Hungry for more? A backpacking adventure on the La Cloche Silhouette Trail in Killarney Provincial Park or a backpacking trip in Cape Chignecto Provincial Park on the Coastal Trail might satisfy you.
Hiking in the Chic-Chocs in the winter is also an incredible hiking adventure. The trails to the top of the snowy mountain are a winter wonderland that needs to be explored!