|Mont Jacques-Cartier, Parc National De La Gaspésie, Québec|
Mont Jacques-Cartier is an interesting summit in the park because it contains a somewhat large heard of caribou which is not often found at these latitudes. As such, access to the summit is controlled and tightly regulated. You must take a bus from the Jacques-Cartier Campground because they do not allow parking at the trailhead. You can also take a bus from the visitor's center which saves you 40km of dirt road driving. Please read this brochure if you are serious about hiking the mountain; there are many regulations.
|Alpine Tundra at the summit of Mont Jacques-Cartier|
It was a standard Appalachian Trail hike from the trailhead meaning that it was steep and slow going, but with plenty of sights to be seen along the way. It is a rough trail of mostly rocks so bring a solid pair of hiking boots. The total, round-trip distance is about 8.4km. After about a 2.4km ascent, there is a lovely little lake where you can eat lunch or relax before breaking tree-line and heading up to the summit.
After Lac a René, it is a 1.8km climb to the top of the mountain. Mercifully, there are steps cut into the trail which makes the going a little easier. When I was hiking, there was a thick fog which covered the mountain making for a strange hike. Towards the summit, there was just nothing but small, round rocks with little vegetation. It was mostly just lichen!
|The summit and shelter of Mt Jacques-Cartier|
I decided since I still had some time that I would continue on the International Appalachian Trail for a few miles just to experience this unique alpine environment. Walking down from the summit towards Mont Comte was not too far nor difficult and I walked through more of the krummholz and across a few small glaciers. It is actually possible to walk from Mt Jacques-Cartier all the way back to the visitors center as a longer day hike but I was not prepared for this. However I would have liked to hike the IAT all the way across the park to get a full appreciation for these summits.
|Mt Jacques-Cartier from Mt Comte and a small glacier|
Parc national de la Gaspésie is such an expansive park with hundreds of miles of trails. I clearly did not see enough in my two days here. As I have said many times in the past, I'm traveling so I can make a list of things to come back to someday. For now, I will be exiting the interior of the peninsula to see the St Lawrence seaway and coast.
Read. Plan. Get Out There!