Famous for its fabulous sunsets over the St. Laurence River, its abundant wildlife and its rocky shoreline with tides dictating the visitors’ activities, Bic National Park has a lot to offer to the outdoor enthusiast. Whether on the water or a trail, hiking or biking, camping, or bird watching, the park amazes tourists year after year. Hiking Le Grand Tour in Bic National Park is an incredible experience and a must if you explore this stunning region.
Where is Bic National Park
Bic National Park is part of the SEPAQ network, Québec’s’ parks and nature reserves. It sits on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River just a few kilometres west of Rimousky, 500 kilometres east of Montreal on Route 132.
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Why visit Bic National Park
With magnificent landscapes and stunning sunsets, between land and sea, from the rocky shores of the bays and coves to forested mountains and islands, this park is unique. The wildlife is diverse, where foxes and deer run about in the fields and woods, and seals sunbathe on rocks near the shore. Hike or bike on the many trails, kayak in the calm bays and enjoy camping in the park.
Hiking Gear for Le Grand Tour
This hike is not to be taken lightly. It requires planning around the tides and hiking gear to keep you safe while on the trail. The terrain is technical and often consists of sharp-edged rocks; appropriate footwear is essential. Bring plenty of water and some snacks. Depending on the weather, a rain jacket, or at the very least, a windbreaker, and gloves are recommended. We also used our headlamps as we started the hike before sunrise, and we needed a bit of light to guide our way.
Hiking Le Grand Tour in Bic National Park
- Distance: 9 km loop
- Elevation gain: 250 m
- Estimated time: 3 hours
- Trailhead from the parking at the Discovery Center Ferme Rioux
- Rated difficult, not suitable for children
Before Hiking Le Grand Tour
Le Grand Tour is probably the most sought trail in the park. It combines a few park trails as hikers make their way around on the rocky shoreline.
This hike can only be done at low tide. You must time your departure to ensure enough time to complete the hike before the tide comes in. As the water levels rise, most of the trail is inaccessible underwater.
Plan on starting the hike no later than 2 hours before low tide. This will give you plenty of time to make your way around before the tide rises again and reaches the trail. You can check the tide schedule in the park here.
The loop is one-way counterclockwise. This gives ample time for hikers to complete the section on the shoreline before the tide comes in. The last third of the trail is in the forested area away from shore.
On the Trail to Le Grand Tour in Bic National Park
The Grand Tour hike starts at the Discovery Center Ferme Rioux. Hikers can admire the seals’ statues and a beautiful lookout at sea. The trails are to the left of the barn and the sculptures. Keep an eye out for wildlife; a fox greeted us as we headed on the trail. As mentioned above, we started two hours before low tide. The sun rose over the water, and the sky was painted with yellows and pinks.
The first part of the trail is flat on a wide gravel path. Hikers keep right following the shoreline on Le Chemin-du-Nord. At the end of the maintained trail, there are no markers to guide hikers. Instead, you follow the shore and make your way around the point on Cap à L’Orignal’. This involves some scrambling over boulders, cracks, logs and on beaches.
Although the trail is not marked, you can’t make a wrong turn as you follow the shoreline. All through the hike, the scenery is stunning.
You will know it’s’ time to leave the shoreline and dive in the woods when you come to a cove called Fourche à Louison. You can spend some time on the beach and take in the beautiful sights of the water and the faraway hills.
When you are ready, look for the trail sign where the path leads you into the forest. This part is Le Scoggan Trail and heads back to Le Chemin-du-Nord to close the loop back to the trailhead.
More Hiking Trails in Bic National Park
I recommend completing this trail while on Le Grand Tour. It would add 2 km (out-and-back) from Le Scoggan near the end of the hike on Le Grand Tour.
The path wanders through a pine forest and is mostly flat for the first part. However, most of the elevation gain happens in the last kilometre before the lookout. The well-marked trail leads to a lookout over Voilier Cove and the Lyman Islands.
Le pic Champlain
- Distance: 6 km loop
- Elevation gain: 230 m
- Estimated time: 2 hours
- Trailhead from the Pic Champlain parking lot
- Rated Intermediate
Most of the elevation of this trail is at the beginning, for the first kilometre. The rest of the trail brings hikers on the ridge with beautiful views of the St. Lawrence River and the Appalachians.
- Distance: 8 km out-and-back
- Elevation gain: 260 m
- Estimated time: 3 hours
- Trailhead at the Raoul-Roy Lookout
- Rated Intermediate
The trail wonders through forested areas with stunning lookouts.
La pointe aux Épinettes is perfect for a pleasant walk along the shore at low tide. It is possible to follow the shoreline at high tide, but this will involve a bit of a scramble. The views are wonderful.
La pointe aux Eiders is a perfect place for amazing pictures. During low tide, you can walk on the river bed. The scenes are unique. We spent some time exploring here on our way back from Le Grand Tour since it is close to the trailhead. It was a perfect way to end the adventure in Bic National Park.
Keep exploring Quebec’s stunning SPAQ parks with a hop across the St. Lawrence River in Saguenay Fjord National Park with the numerous hiking trails on the high cliffs bordering the majestic fjord.