Now that summer is past its prime, it's time to squeeze in as many warm-weather activities as possible before fall. Eastern Quebec’s Saguenay-Lac St. Jean region, with its picturesque Saguenay fjord, granite peaks and lush forest, is the perfect outdoor playground to cap off the season. Here are five fun and family-friendly activities to polish off your summer.
Slip your sea kayak into the near-black water of the Saguenay Fjord flanked by steep evergreen-dusted cliffs (pictured above) and teeming with wildlife, such as belugas, harbour seals and minke whales. At Parc National du Fjord-du-Saguenay, an hour’s drive east of the city of Saguenay, sea kayakers can choose between an easy two-to-three-hour guided tour of Baie-Éternité, more challenging day tours to Baie-de-Tadoussac or several three-day excursions offered in partnership with local company, Fjord en Kayak, that include camping along the way.
Trails abound in this region blessed with ancient Laurentian Highlands landscapes and numerous lookout points. At Parc National du Fjord-du-Saguenay, trek 7.6 kilometres (mostly up or down hill) to the statue of the Virgin Mary at Cap Trinité, which rises 348 metres from the fjord below and offers fantastic views (pictured above). At Parc d’Aventure en Montagne Les Pallissades in the Charlevoix region, about a two-hour drive southeast of Saguenay, the L’aigle hike (or eagle hike) is a lung-burning ascent leading to the top of 400-metre-high granite rock face with views of the Rivière Noire valley.
Thrill-seekers will love via ferrata. A great way to explore the steep cliffs of the Laurentians, this activity is best described as a mix of climbing and hiking, and is safe for children and those without climbing experience (you are attached to the rock face by a cable and harness). At Parc d’Aventure en Montagne Les Pallissades, an experienced climber guides small groups up the face of a 400-metre cliff (pictured above), cross a 200-metre suspended bridge and then repel back down. The Parc National du Fjord-du-Saguenay also offers this as a guided activity above the Saguenay Fiord.
The Véloroute des Bleuets (or Blueberry Trail, pictured above) is a cycling route that circles 256 kilometres around Lac Saint-Jean. The route is mostly paved and travels through a variety of landscapes and 15 municipalities, where cyclists can sample the region’s delicacies, including scrumptious homemade cheese at Fromagerie Médard in Saint-Gédéon.
The quaint village of Tadoussac, located where the Saguenay Fiord meets the St. Lawrence River and accessible by ferry from Baie-Sainte-Catherine, is a popular jumping off point for many whale-watching excursions. Local company Crosières AML offers plenty of options to view the amazing mammals via 24-to-48 person zodiacs complete with knowledgeable guides. Be sure to check out the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre prior to your voyage to learn about the dozen different whale species found in the region.