A Complete Guide to Hiking Mont Jacques-Cartier

Nestled within the breathtaking landscapes of Quebec’s Gaspésie National Park lies Mont Jacques-Cartier, the second-highest peak in the province. A hike to its summit promises unforgettable vistas, alpine meadows, and the chance to connect with the rugged beauty of the Canadian wilderness. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a nature enthusiast seeking adventure, Mont Jacques-Cartier offers a hiking experience like no other.

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pin on hiking Mont Jacques-Cartier in Gaspesie National Park showing two hikers climbing the trail to the summit
Épingle sur la randonnée au mont Jacques Cartier montrant une prairies alpine avec un lac au loin

Getting There

Gaspésie National Park is located in the eastern part of the province on the Gaspé Peninsula, approximately 30 kilometres south of Sainte-Anne-des-Monts. The park is accessible by car and offers well-marked roads leading to various trailheads.

Planning Your Hike

Season and Weather

The hiking season in Gaspésie National Park typically runs year-round with as many winter trails as summer hiking. However, Mont Jacques-Cartier is closed to the public from October to June because of the migrating caribou herd. 

The mountain is usually available to hikers from July 1st until September 30th. Visit the park’s website to inquire about specific dates, which may vary depending on the herd’s movement. 

Also, weather conditions can be unpredictable, especially at higher elevations. It’s essential to check the weather forecast before embarking on your hike and to be prepared for changing conditions.

Permits and Regulations

All visitors to Gaspésie National Park must purchase a park pass, which helps support conservation efforts and park maintenance.

Packing Essentials

A well-equipped backpack is essential for a successful hike. Pack plenty of water, high-energy snacks, sunscreen, a first aid kit, and appropriate clothing layers for changing weather conditions. Remember your camera to capture the stunning scenery along the way!

Getting to the trailhead

The Mont Jacques-Cartier Trail starts at the Mont Jacques-Cartier Visitors Centre. This trail is approximately 10 kilometres round trip and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

Visitors and hikers can access the trailhead by shuttle. The park provides the shuttle bus for a fee. You must book the shuttle to ensure your seat is reserved. Some last-minute seats might be available, but don’t count on it during the high season of July and August. See the park’s transportation services to plan accordingly.

Note: Another restriction to the trail is the time allotted for the hike. Hikers can be on the mountain from 10 am to 4 pm. These restrictions are in place to help the protected species within the park, and a park warden enforces them.

Hiking Mont Jacques-Cartier

Trail Highlights

The Mont Jacques-Cartier Trail begins with a steady ascent through dense forests, gradually giving way to open alpine meadows as you gain altitude. The trail passes by René Lake at the 2-kilometre mark. Hikers can take a break here before pushing for the summit. Pit toilets are available here.

view from the Mont Jacques-Cartier Trail with Lake René in the distance and conifer covered hills

After René Lake, the trail is a steady incline on talus. It is another 2 kilometres to the summit, where vegetation disappears almost completely. The trail is well-marked with rocks bordering it with Inukshuks to guide the way. Soon, the tower at the summit comes into view and the trail levels as you near the summit and walk on its large plateau.

a hiker walking towards the summit along the trail covered in scree
Inukshuks guide the way to the tower at the summit of Mont Jacques-Cartier

Along the way, watch for wildlife, including caribou, known to frequent the area. Caribous are often seen at a distance. Binoculars will be handy here if you enjoy watching wildlife in their habitat. 

Summit Views

Reaching the summit of Mont Jacques-Cartier rewards hikers with panoramic views of the surrounding peaks, valleys, and meadows stretching as far as the eye can see. Take your time to soak in the beauty of the landscape and capture memories that will last a lifetime.

View of the green mountain range from Mont Jacques-Cartier's summit

You can climb the tower for a better view of the surroundings and a break from the cold wind often blowing at the summit. 

Return Journey

When you have had your fill of the summit views, return to the trailhead, leaving no trace of your visit and respecting the natural environment.

After the Hike

After a day of hiking, unwind and relax amidst the tranquillity of Gaspésie National Park. Whether you camp under the stars, stay in a cozy cabin, or enjoy a meal at a nearby restaurant, reflect on the beauty and serenity of your outdoor adventure.

Final Thoughts on Hiking the Mont Jacques-Cartier Trail

Hiking Mont Jacques-Cartier is a memorable experience that allows hikers to connect with nature, challenge themselves, and create lasting memories. As you explore the trails and summit the peaks of Gaspésie National Park, remember to tread lightly, respect the environment, and leave only footprints behind.

green hills and lakes with some conifers in an alpine meadow

Are you ready to embark on your Mont Jacques-Cartier adventure? Lace up your hiking boots, pack your backpack, and discover the natural wonders waiting to be explored in Quebec’s stunning wilderness.

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