Hiking in the Monts Groulx

If you are in need of a getaway far from civilization to immerse yourself in nature, hiking in the Monts Groulx certainly is the right choice. This vast mountain range in Northern Quebec promises hiking adventures like no other. Hiking Mont Harfang is one of the many options to experience these tall hills, part of this wild, untamed region. In addition, Mont Jauffret and Mont Provencher are also magnificent hikes and are part of the epic backpacking trip traversing the Monts Groulx.

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hiker on the trail in the monts Groulx with the Manicouagan Reservoir in the distance
randonneur debout au sommet du mont Harfang dans les monts Groulx avec le réservoir Manicouagan au loin

Where are the Monts Groulx

This vast mountain range in Northern Quebec can be reached by the 389 Northeast of the Manicouagan Reservoir and the famous Oeil du Québec. The region sits in the province’s geographical centre. It is approximately 350 km north of Baie-Comeau.

Manicouagan Reservoir
Manicouagan Reservoir

Accommodations near the Monts Groulx

While exploring the Monts Groulx, we stayed at the Station Uapishka. The Station offers rooms, cabins and campsites by the water. In addition, various outdoor activities are available from the Station, from guided hikes to kayaking and SUP boarding or fishing. 

Station Uapishka in the Monts Groulx on route 389

You can find the Station Uapishka at km 336 on route 389 north of Baie-Comeau. 

Bivouac (Wild) Camping near the Monts Groulx

  • Bivouac Mont Provencher – km 335
  • Bivouac Gravière – km 337
  • Bivouac Harfang North – km 352
  • Bivouac Gravière (Mont Jauffret) – km 365

Hiking Mont Harfang

  • Distance: 7 km out-and-back (or 11 km if done in a loop)
  • Elevation gain: 695 m
  • Altitude: 945 m
  • Estimated time: 3 hours 
  • Trailhead across the street from the parking lot at km 349
  • Loop trail map (AllTrails)

The Monts Groulx is part of a beautiful region that offers many hiking adventures. The hikes through this nordic-like environment are not to be underestimated. Therefore, be prepared and carry the essential hiking gear for your safety.

The hike to the summit of Mont Harfang can be made in a loop of 11 kilometres, although 3 kilometres of the loop are on the road and not on a trail.

Wanting to avert the dangers of cars and, more specifically, 18-wheelers speeding by on the 389, we decided to hike Mont Harfang out and back from the south trail (Sentier Sud). The hike to the summit as an out-and-back is 7 kilometres.

The parking lot for the trailhead is at km 349 on the western side of route 389, and the trail starts on the opposite side of the road. Again, look for the sign and the path through the woods.

On the trail

The hike starts in a lush green forest with moss covering everything. The first 2 kilometres present little elevation gain. After the moss come the ferns. At this time of year, in July, they were waist-high. The green scenery reminded me of the rainforest.

hiking trail to mont Harfang in the Monts Groulx
part of the trail covered in moss
hiking trail to mont Harfang in the Monts Groulx
part of the trail through tall ferns

This first part of the trail is well-maintained and wide. It is a pleasant hike and primarily easy, at the very most, intermediate. 

You will come to a lake and cross wetlands, so expect to get a bit wet. First, the trail passes by an abandoned wood cabin that has unfortunately collapsed near Lac au Cachette. Then, not too long after the ruins of the cabin, the trail crosses marshes, and water and mud can get deep depending on the time of year and how much rain it has seen in previous days. 

crossing marshed on the hiking trail to mont Harfang in the Monts Groulx
crossing marshes on the trail

After crossing the marsh, the elevation begins. The next kilometre is a steady climb over roots and rocks with mud. The reward is coming! Once you get above the tree line, the views will stop you in your tracks.

The Summit

For the last 500 metres of the hike on Mont Harfang, you walk above the treeline in a meadow with strewn rocks and boulders. You follow the cairns to the summit but turn around once in a while because the landscape behind you is stunning. 

Once at the summit, indicated by a huge cairn, you get a 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains and L’Oeil du Québec. The water and the small scattered islands are impressive sights! This is the Manicouagan Reservoir. This landscape was forged by a meteor thousands of years ago, creating a shape of an eye in a nearly perfect circle. It is so huge that it can be seen from space.

view or the Manicouagan Reservoir and l'Oeil du Québec from the summit of mont Harfang
view or the Manicouagan Reservoir from the summit of mont Harfang in the Monts Groulx

Afterwards, we headed back the same way as we were not making the loop. There is a sign to make sure you choose the right path from the summit. On cloudy and foggy days, hikers must be extra vigilant to find the trail again on the summit. The cairns are far apart and can be difficult to spot when the fog is thick.

More hiking trails in Monts-Groulx 

Mont Jauffret

  • Distance: 14 km out-and-back
  • Elevation gain: 665 m
  • Altitude: 1065 m
  • Estimated time: 8 hours
  • Trailhead at km 365 of route 389 (north access to the Monts Groulx)
  • Trail map (AllTrails)

There is a big parking lot at km marker 365, where the trail to hike Mont Jauffret starts.

The path through the boreal forest is pleasant. It first follows the river, and you are rewarded with beautiful falls. The elevation gain is constant for the first four kilometres of the trail, but you will soon find yourself above tree line in the meadows with arctic tundra as vegetation.

The trail is well-marked up to Lake Glacier. From there, you can make your way to the summit, but there are no markers to guide you. Therefore, having a map of the region is strongly recommended.

Mont Provencher

  • Distance: 18 km out-and-back
  • Elevation gain: 800 m
  • Altitude: 1074 m
  • Estimated time: 6 hours
  • Trailhead at km 335 of route 389 (south access to the Monts Groulx)
  • Trail map (AllTrails)

The hike to Mont Provencher starts from the parking lot at km 335. The first part is a steady climb in the forest. You will get a bit of a break when the trail flattens for one kilometre. Then, the climb starts again and brings you to the summit of this remarkable mountain with stunning views.

On your way up, you will come across an old cabin where you can rest for a bit. The cabin will not provide much protection from the rain, but it will provide shade and a place to sit. The summit is only a couple of kilometres from here.

Once at the summit, if you want to prolong the adventure, you can hike to Lake Quentin. The lake marks the end of the maintained trail.

Backpacking in Monts-Groulx

  • Distance: 45 km point to point
  • Estimated time: 3-5 days
  • North access at km 365 of route 389 
  • South access at km 335 of route 389

Before the Hike

Plan from three to five days to complete this backpacking trip. It is more enjoyable in June or September as flies and mosquitoes intensify in July and August. Add a face net to your backpacking gear if you plan to be on the trail during July and August. Also, long sleeves and loose pants will help against flies or mosquito bites.

No need for reservations for campsites while in the Monts Groulx, but you can leave your name and itinerary at the Station Uapishka (km 336 on route 389) for your safety. You can also rent a satellite phone or a SPOT from the Station. These would be the only way to contact emergency services if needed. 

You can also register with the Sureté du Québec in Baie-Comeau with the expected date of return, the number of hikers in your party and the planned itinerary.

The trek through the Monts Groulx takes you through boreal forest and high on the plateau of the mountain range through tundra and lichen. Furthermore, the trail is not marked, and good navigational skills are required. So, a map and a compass will be necessary. 

hiking through tundra in the Monts Groulx

Plan for all types of weather. It is known that hikers can experience all four seasons in one day on the Monts Groulx mountain range! 

Be prepared with the essential backpacking gear. For more information on equipment, food, and clothes, the Ultimate Guide to Backpacking will help.

This 5-day backpacking menu will help you plan your meals in the backcountry. Having enough meals and snacks for one extra day on the trails is a good idea. You need to be prepared for the unexpected in the Monts Groulx.

Possible Summits when backpacking in the Monts Groulx

As backpackers make their own route through the mountain range, the routes differ from one hiker to the next, but the suggested path creates an arc between Mont Jauffret and Mont Provencher. This is the list of the summits included in this area for north-bound backpackers (from Provencher to Jauffret)

  • Mont Provencher (1074 m)
  • Mont de l’Ours (1006 m)
  • Mont Goéland (1066 m)
  • Massif Nomade (1036 m)
  • Mont Oxyria (1082 m)
  • Mont du Lemming (1011 m)
  • Mont Veyrier (1113 m)
  • Mont Jumelle (1021 m)
  • Mont de la Chicoutai
  • Mont Boissinot (1082 m)
  • Mont Jauffret (1065 m)

There are numerous bodies of water on the plateau. Therefore, planning the route where water is available is crucial. Also, ensure the necessary gear to treat the water before drinking it.

The topographical map of the mountain range is helpful while planning a backpacking trip through the Monts Groulx and necessary while on the trails. You can purchase a map on the Friends of the Monts Groulx website to help you plan your route.

On the Trail

Backpackers have two options when planning a backpacking trip in the Monts Groulx. You can either access the Monts Groulx through the south trail at km 335, the Mont Provencher Trail and head north towards Mont Jauffret. Or, you can access the trail by the northern access point at the Mont Jauffret Trail and head south towards Mont Provencher. 

The trails for those two mountains are the only marked sections of the traverse. Cairns are used near the summits of the two mountains once the trees disappear and make place for the tundra. The trek in between is unmarked. 

the plateau of Monts Groulx
the plateau of Monts Groulx

The route should be completed in the shape of an arc between Mont Jauffret and Mont Provencher, looking something like this marked route on AllTrails:

Example of a suggested route when backpacking the Monts Groulx

  • Day one: 11 km – Start at km 335 on the Mont Provencher Trail (south access) and spend the night near Lake Nomade 
  • Day two: 12 km – Hike to the summit of Mont Oxyria, passing by Massif Nomade and towards Lake Plénitude to spend the night.
  • Day three: 10.5 km – From Lake Plénitude towards Lake Joyel to the summit of Mont Jumelle and Mont de la Chicoutai, then by Lake Benoite to Mont Boissinot and spend the night near Lake Faucon Pèlerin
  • Day four: 11.5 km – From Lake Faucon Pèlerin towards Mont Jauffret and on the maintained trail to descend towards route 389 at km 365 (north access)

Final Words on Hiking the Monts Groulx

Whether you hike Mont Jauffret or Mont Provencher, spend time hiking Mont Harfang or go backpacking through the Monts Groulx, you will not be disappointed. The Uapishka-Manicouagan Region deserves all the praise for its outdoor adventure possibilities, the surreal reservoir creating the Eye of Quebec and the naked summits of the Monts Groulx mountain range.

Keep exploring the great region from Baie-Comeau to Fermont on route 389 for more adventures in the wild and plenty of culture and sightseeing!

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