Parc national des Grands‑Jardins, from the lows all the way to the heights
A collaboration with Émile David, a fishing (and outdoor!) enthusiast.
From its highest peaks to its lowest drops, Parc national des Grands-Jardins is one of Quebec’s top outdoor recreation locations. Its numerous lookouts and wonderful trails attract a large number of visitors each and every year.
For those looking for a hands-on, intimate contact with nature, the park offers some unique corners of wilderness that can be discovered through wade fishing and via ferrata: two activities that stand out from the ordinary.
A new sector for wade fishing
I’m a river fishing enthusiast. Perhaps a little out of laziness: I like things to move on their own without effort on my part. When you cast your bait in the eddy line, you don’t even have to pull it back; you can let it gently drift with the current. At Parc national des Grands-Jardins, wade fishing is possible in two main rivers, Malbaie and Enfers. This year, day fishing has become available in a new sector on Rivière Malbaie, the dead waters of sound in the northern end of the park. I was really excited that I was one of the first people to explore these waters and I was not disappointed. You need to walk about a kilometre to get to the first site, where you can rustle up a plentiful catch or take a boat to go up the river.
For braver anglers, transporting a motor to the site allows for unimaginable boat trips and access to fishing sites that are just out of this world. In this section, a string of bare ridges cut into the river, making the Grands-Jardins landscape truly unique. Rivière Malbaie is trimmed with coniferous trees and, in some places, sandy banks, where the only marks visible are those of the numerous moose roaming around. There’s enough perfectly sized trout for a meal of pan-fried trout in butter. These fish are ember-coloured and voracious.
The trails and mountains that you’ll discover when you get to the dead-water pools and Rivière des Enfers are nothing like those of Mont du Lac-des-Cygnes or Mont de l’Ours, but you’ll feel like you’re alone on earth. Having these corners of paradise all to yourself if only for a day is a priceless gift from you to you!
My mother, a saint, doesn’t know what via ferrata is but I’m sure that she’d love it. If I, hardly an expert, tried to describe it in my words, I’d say that it’s a trail built with cables and metal beams attached to a rock wall. At Parc national des Grands-Jardins, the circuit is on the wall of the famous Mont du Lac-des-Cygnes. With this activity, less meditative than wade fishing, you tap into a whole other range of emotion.
Once we’d done enough trout fishing, my adventure companions and I decided to end our stay with a more electrifying experience. After several days of dipping our hands in the water at the lowest point in the park, I found it quite poetic to grip the rock and climb to its heights. The mountainside is one of the first things to catch the park visitor’s eye. To feel one’s hands and feet on it and admire the astonishing panoramas of the landscape is a privilege of the bravest who’ll flout their fear of heights. The hike takes five hours and the level of difficulty is moderate (trust me, I do river fishing, remember?); it’s accessible to all and perfectly safe.
In a nutshell, Parc national des Grands-Jardins is a quality destination that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways with a spectrum of emotion and intensity that rarely come hand in hand. Wade fishing and via ferrata are a must for those who crave a heart-to-heart experience with nature in this region.