Quebec’s mountains are an impressive sight for anyone, but for a hiker and mountaineer, they are majestic. Mount Albert is one of the iconic mountains of the Chic-Chocs in the famous Appalachian Range. If you ever find yourself in Gaspésie, in Eastern Quebec, hiking to the summit of Mount Albert is a must. The Mount Albert Summit Loop is an amazing hike with breathtaking views.
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About Mount Albert
Mount Albert is the iconic Gaspesie National Park mountain in Eastern Quebec on the Gaspesie Peninsula. Mount Albert is unique. Its plateau spans 13 kilometres across and is home to a caribou herd. The alpine tundra and the serpentine bedrock give it a distinctive and impressive appearance.
The trail to Mount Albert Summit
The trail is open from July 1st to early October. This ensures the protection of the caribou herd that wanders the summit plateau. The park’s website will confirm if the trail is open. Ensure it is before you head out, especially at the beginning and end of the season.
The start of the trail runs along the St-Anne River. Hikers can reach the trail from the visitor center, from the Mont Albert Campground or the La Rivière Campground, hiking towards the footbridge Passerelle aux saumons to cross St-Anne River and climb towards La Saillie Lookout.
The wide and slightly uneven trail climbs in switchbacks to the La Saillie viewpoint at the 2-kilometre mark. As you gain altitude, the views of the surrounding mountains appear. The lookout is a wooden deck that allows you to admire the mountains in the distance, Mont Xalibu and Mont Richardson and at the bottom, the visitor center and Mont Albert Lodge.
The Climb to Mount Albert Summit
From the lookout begins the ascent of Mont Albert. The path becomes narrower for the next 4 kilometres, where rocks and roots are obstacles. You’ll need a decent pair of hiking shoes.
Hikers will encounter rocky steps and switchbacks, but otherwise, the trail climbs constantly.
A small rest area is just before the summit with a few benches. This is the last push towards the North summit.
The summit post indicates Mount Albert’s summit at 1070 metres. The views are astounding. A refuge is open to hikers if you need a break from the wind or the cold. Bring extra layers since the summit can be cold, even on warm summer days. There is also an outhouse at the summit, which most hikers appreciate.
Several benches are set up here and there to allow hikers to take a break and admire the distant mountain range on one side or the vast plateau of Mount Albert on the other.
Those who do not wish to make the loop will turn back here to return by the same path to the visitor center. Before descending, if you have the time and the energy, you should go to the Versant Lookout. It is a one-kilometre walk on the plateau to a remarkable lookout with impressive views of the basin called Cuve du Diable. This will add 2 kilometres to the already long 12-kilometre return from the summit.
On the other hand, if your legs, feet and health allow it, I strongly recommend that you complete the loop that will bring you across the summit plateau and to the Cuve du Diable lookout and descend from there. This loop is a challenging 17-kilometre hike.
A wooden sidewalk on the plateau avoids damaging the fragile alpine tundra. Walking on the plateau of Mount Albert, we realize its immensity. The 360-degree views are breathtaking. Be on the lookout for the caribou herd that has made Mount Albert its home. The animals roam the plateau during the summer season.
Arriving at the Versant Lookout, the view opens before us to the basin of Mount Albert. The serpentine gives it an exceptional look. This rust-coloured rock will accompany you throughout the descent, which begins at the lookout.
The Descent from Mount Albert
The start of the descent from Mount Albert’s summit is steep. The path is strewn with pebbles and loose rocks. Hiking poles will be handy to prevent slipping. Hikers follow the cairns that mark the way, which is sometimes very obvious on the ground.
On the hiker’s left, the falls from the top of the summit cascade down the mountainside. Hikers soon find themselves out of the tundra and on a path bordered by conifers after rapidly losing altitude with this steep descent.
The rocks, similar to scree, serve as a trail. It is impossible to move quickly from one boulder to another. Hikers need to be vigilant about where they put their foot down to avoid losing balance or slipping. The trail crosses a few streams, some with footbridges and others with boulders as a makeshift bridge. Don’t be afraid to get your feet a little wet.
The trail leads hikers to La Serpentine shelter. Here, a little break is a must to enjoy the view and a snack before the last leg of the loop. There are another 5 kilometres and still more lookouts and beautiful views.
The trail descends steeply through rocks and packed dirt and runs along Devil’s Lake. Hikers come to the Devil’s Falls Lookout, where they can rest with the raging falls plunging from the mountain. From there, the path will cross Devil’s Creek and meet the St. Anne River Trail again. The trail along the river is relatively flat and wide and comes to the footbridge for the return to the visitor centre or one of the campgrounds.
After this challenging hike, stop in the Mount Albert Lodge for a well-deserved nightcap. The huge windows offer the perfect view of the mountain you just climbed.