Hiking in Quebec’s Saguenay Fjord Park

The Saguenay region in Quebec is a prime destination for outdoor enthusiasts with its majestic Fjord. The scenery is unique and impressive. There are numerous hiking trails in Saguenay Fjord National Park around this amazing river flanked by high cliffs and rolling hills. 

About the Parc national du Fjord du Saguenay

About 200 kilometres east of Quebec city (or 500 kilometres east of Montreal), the Saguenay River flows in the St. Lawrence River, with Tadoussac sitting on the northeastern shore. The Parc national du Fjord du Saguenay stretches from Tadoussac for some 100 kilometres north along the Saguenay River, protecting its shores and the surrounding forests.

The Fjord du Saguenay National Park is a Quebec park part of the SEPAQ network. There are access fees to visit the park. You can choose between a day pass or a season pass, depending on the number of days you plan on exploring the park.

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explore saguenay fjord national park
explorer le parc national du fjord du saguenay

Why visit the Fjord du Saguenay National Park

The fjord was carved by glaciers thousands of years ago. It is wide and deep enough to attract whales at its mouth. Visitors can often spot belugas swimming in the river below the cliffs. The high cliffs on each side of the river offer a vast playground for all nature lovers.

View of the Fjord from the Statue Trail in Saguenay Fjord National Park
View of the Fjord from the Statue Trail

Hiking in the Saguenay Fjord National Park

The Statue Trail

The trailhead is next to the park’s Discovery Center. For the first few minutes, the trail runs alongside Eternity Bay and then climbs to the Bellevue Lookout, nearly two kilometres from the start, where you can admire the bay and valley below. Hikers can take a break and snack under a large boulder where picnic tables are set up.

Once at the top, the trail continues through the forest and descends to Cape Trinité. Along the way, we come across a refuge that allows a short break. Stairs on the path facilitate the descent to Cape Trinité, from where the statue, the Madonna of Saguenay, nine meters high, has watched over the river and its sailors since 1881.

Madonna of the Saguenay in Cape Trinité

Giant Viewpoint (via Les Caps)

Hikers start on the Sentier Les Caps for five kilometres to reach the highest point of the Giant. The trail goes through a forest near the Éternité River. The first kilometres are relatively easy. Then, it takes hikers by a rustic campsite where a few platforms are set up. This campsite is part of the backpacking trail. The beach offers a magnificent view from opposite cliffs and is perfect for a quick swim on the return.

Shortly after the campsite, the trail climbs up to the viewpoint. Once again, the landscapes do not disappoint. A break is in order, sitting on a rock at the top, admiring the Éternité Valley. Be prepared for windy conditions at the summit.

The Giant Viewpoint in the Saguenay Fjord National Park
The Giant Viewpoint

Montagne Blanche (via Les Chutes Trail)

This trail, about thirteen kilometres round trip, promises a gain of almost 600 meters to reach the top of the mountain. It is also part of the Sentier Les Caps. As its name suggests, the trail runs alongside waterfalls and rapids, with the Grosse Chute being its main attraction.

L'Anse-Saint-Jean seen below from the Grosse Chute Lookout in Saguenay Fjord National Park

Hikers can admire the fall from below and from above. It is so high that it is impossible to see it all in one shot. At the Grosse Chute Lookout, the view of the river and the charming town of L’Anse-Saint-Jean hold me up for a little while.

Some hikers head back from the lookout, especially if they are accompanied by children, while others continue on the trail leading to Montagne Blanche’s summit. The trail makes its way in the forest along streams, rapids, and occasionally other falls; although less impressive than the Grosse chute, just as beautiful.

Some steps and ramps have been erected here and there to help the final climb to the top. The views of the river are breathtaking. The summit is extensive, and despite the mountain’s popularity, it is easy to find a boulder away from the crowds to sit and take in the peaceful scenery before hitting the road again for the descent.

View of the Fjord from the summit of Montagne Blanche
From the summit of Montagne Blanche

The trails mentioned above are challenging on rugged terrain and should not be underestimated. Be safe on the trails with the essential hiking gear.

Easy Hikes in the Saguenay Fjord National Park

Méandres-à-Falaises Trail – 1.6 km loop from the Discovery Centre Le Fjord

L’Anse-à-la-Barque Lookout Trail – 3.5 km out-and-back from route 138 near the ferry in Tadoussac

L’Estuaire Trail – 800 m out-and-back from the Discovery Centre La Maison des Dunes

Colline-de-l’Anse-à-l’Eau Trail – 1 km loop from route 138 near the ferry in Tadoussac

Pointe-de-l’Islet Trail – 800 m loop from the marina in Tadoussac. This is a perfect place for whale watching, sitting on the rocky shore of the St. Lawrence River.

The entrance to the Fjord from the St Lawrance River with the cliffs on either side.

Point Rouge Trail is not in the park, but it is in Tadoussac and well worth the hike. It is a short easy hike to the shore of the river. The 2.4 km loop is part of the Parc-Languedoc Nature Reserve.

hiker walking on the red dirt trail along the St. Lawrence River in Tadoussac
standing on the coast of the St Lawrence River looking towards Tadoussac and the ferry boat

Backpacking in the Fjord du Saguenay National Park

The park has two major backpacking trails on each side of the fjord. They are both challenging routes, but the sceneries are stunning. You can plan a backpacking adventure from 2 days up to 9 days. Reservations have to be made by phone at 1 800 665-6527.

Les Caps Trail runs on the south shore of the fjord. It offers backcountry campsites or refuges and lean-tos. Hikers can complete routes with distances ranging from 20 to 32 kilometres. (topographic map of Les Caps)

On the north shore, Le Fjord Trail is a 40-kilometre backpacking trail with campsites and refuges. (topographic map of Le Fjord)

The trails are usually open from the end of May to mid-October. You will need transportation as those routes are point-to-point trails. If you need a shuttle on the south shore, you can contact Saguenay Aventures. For a shuttle on the northern shores, contact Ferme 5 Étoiles.

sand and grass on the beach near the backcountry campsite in Saguenay Fjord National Park
Beach near a backcountry campsite on Les Caps Trail

Don’t Miss

A short stop at L’Anse-de-Tabatière allows you to admire the river’s splendour. This rest area also has picnic tables with an amazing view. There is a short 500-meter loop with interpretive signs and a lookout over the river and the cliffs.

L'Anse à Tabatière lookout over the Saguenay Fjord and the towering cliffs on either side

Halte aux Bélugas is a quick 3 kilometre to a lookout where belugas are often seen swimming in the river’s cold water. This attraction is on the north shore of the Fjord. The ferry in Tadoussac or the bridge in Saguenay is the only way to drive across the fjord.

More things to do in the park

Kayaking on the river is a popular activity. Seeing the high cliffs from sea level is just as impressive as standing on their summit. There are a few options for renting the equipment needed. The best option is to head to L’Anse-Saint-Jean with Fjord en Kayak.

Via Ferrata, if you are brave enough. The Via Ferrata is in the Baie-Éternité sector of the park. It offers three routes of different levels.

L’Odessée

La Grande Dalle

La Passerelle

Go for a boat ride with Saguenay Aventures for some whale sightseeing. Belugas and whales are known to hang around the Saguenay and St. Lawrence Rivers. Don’t forget your camera!

This magnificent region deserves many days of exploring. Just like the region west of Saguenay, where Charlevoix’s peaks and luscious forests offer the same kind but different adventure!

Or hop on the other side of the St. Lawrence River and explore this amazing Bic National Park and all its adventurous trails!

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