• Photo: Tom Hall/Canadian Geographic

It was a grey and rainy morning, but the Grade 8 class from Caledonia Regional High School, in Hillsborough N.B., was bright. After a French toast breakfast the class boarded a bus to ride to Wapizagonke Picnic Area for a quick canoe course. The mission for the day: paddle to the beginning of the three kilometre hike to Waber Falls, one of Park La Mauricie’s most popular attractions.

The canoes set out in an oily drizzle. After about 20 minutes we came to the mouth of a narrow section of the lake–more of a creek through wetlands than a lake or a river. As the first canoe rounded the first bend in the creek a moose plodded into view, stopped, looked us over and continued on his way, silent and huge. Another 30 minutes and we were at the beginning of the hike.

The trail winds its way through the woods for three kilometres before a series of boardwalks and stairs take you to the foot of the falls. The Waber Falls are only accessible by a paddle followed by a hike. They’re worth the effort. The largest of the series of falls is made of two tongues of water tumbling at least 20 metres. According to one of the Parks Canada guides, in warmer weather and when there’s less water flowing, you can sit on rocks beneath the falls and enjoy your lunch and play in the pools. Today, with the rain, chilly temperature and high water, the class ate lunch on the observation platform with the roar of the falls for company.

After the hour hike back to the boats, and the paddle back to the put-in the class hopped back on the bus for a trip to the La Passage lookout. Arguably the best view in the park, from the platform you can see kilometres of the river-like Lake Wapizagonke stretching through La Mauricie like a blue ribbon. After snapping some group photos it was off to a chili dinner before getting settled in some Parks Canada oTENTiks.

After warming up there was a meeting in a large tented amphitheater. Along with hot chocolate was a slideshow of pictures the class took with Parks Canada cameras (look for them on Parks Canada’s Facebook page) of the flora and fauna they saw during the last two days. Tomorrow, they’ll hike before heading to Lévis Forts National Historic Site across the St. Lawrence River from Quebec City.