View Full Version : Grande Traversée report

08-19-2008, 12:18
Last week I did a 100 km section hike of the Grande Traversée portion of the IAT which traverses Parc national de la Gaspésie. The trail was a bit damp, but pretty well maintained.

As some others have noted on this forum, it costs about $20/night to spend the night in the shelters. However, it should be noted that these shelters are absolutely outstanding. They are more like cabins in the woods, enclosed on all four sides, beds have a vinyl encased mattress, furnished with tables and chairs, and containing a wood stove...with firewood provided! In principle you need to book a spot in these shelters in advance, but for a section hike this is ideal....no need to carry a tent or sleeping pad.

Views in the Chic Choc mountains are outstanding...

Can't wait to return in the future! :banana:banana:banana

08-19-2008, 12:20
See any caribou?

08-19-2008, 12:44
Yep. I saw 10 or 12 caribou on Mont Jacques Cartier, but didn't see any on the other peaks. I also saw a few moose as the parc is infested with them. Below are a couple of the caribou....

08-28-2008, 17:07
Tell us more about your hike on this trail!


08-28-2008, 20:11
Tell us more about your hike on this trail!


Yes:welcome, please don't make us beg. :-?It's not dignified! Begging is almost as bad as whining.

08-30-2008, 19:23
Please more info on this trip. I'm planning on a thru hike next year if all works out the way I hope.

walkin' wally
09-07-2008, 17:21
More info please. I am going to Fundy National Park and staying at Alma on the 15th of this month for five days and hope to hike all the IAT in Canada in the future.

09-13-2008, 18:49
Finally, a chance to post a more detailed report. Naturally, I've been hiking and haven't had time. Last week I spent the week hiking La Cloche Silhouette Trail in Killarney, Ontario which is an absolutely astounding trail that takes you on a 100km circuit of the park. Anyway, getting back to Gaspésie...

I arrived in Gaspésie on August 9th. While incredibly beautiful, the Parc is distant from any meaningful population centre. To get there, I drove and parc staff were helpful in indicating a gravel parking lot where I could leave my car for a week with minimal concern about property crime. Because I spent most of the day driving to the parc, I spent the night in a hut (refuge) located near the parc welcome centre. As I suggested in the OP, these huts are completely unlike the 3-sided shelters that are found on the AT. They are beautiful, and well-equipped with single mattresses, a wood stove, and tables and chairs (see photo of La Buse hut).

To begin my hike, I took the parc shuttle on August 10th to the Chouette Hut. The shuttle van leaves at 8h30 and takes you roughly 70km over some of the nastiest roads you could imagine, for the cost of about $40. The shuttle driver wanted to practice his English, but despite his best efforts his ability was so limited that we tended to converse in French. He told me that the shuttle van makes a daily return-trip from June 24 until the end of September, representing a distance of about 140km, but their last van was junked after only 4 years and less than 100,000 km on the odometer! Anyway, by 11h00, he left me at the Chouette refuge.

My original plan was to back-track 3 or 4 km to climb to the summit of Mt. Logan, but the entire parc was shrouded in cloud and fog. With no real prospect of any views from Mt. Logan, I decided to make an easy day and hiked towards the Carouge hut where I was scheduled to spend the night. On the way to Carouge, I summited Mt. des Loupes (1,076m) but the heavy cloud and fog resulted in no views. I continued on a wet and rough trail to the Carouge. The last 1 km looked to me like a clear-cut because there were so many blow-downs. Evidently, there was a very powerful storm near there about 5 years ago. At the Carouge, I met Luc and Denis, a father and son team, and we spent a pleasant evening at the hut.

The next morning I left by 6h30 while Denis was eating breakfast and Luc was still in bed. The Mésange hut about 20 km distant was my destination for the evening and required that I skip the Huard hut. Again, the morning's first kilometer was clear-cut type of terrain, and very wet trail. A light rain overnight resulted in very damp vegetation, and I was the first person to pass through the numerous raspberry patches resulting in a very damp morning. After 7 or 8 km of ups and downs over rough and wet trail, I began to climb...and climb...and climb to the top of Mt. Arthur Allen (980m). It was still overcast, but began to clear out to provide something of a view (see Arthur Allen photo). It was a quick trip down Mt. Arthur Allen and then the trail went right back up Mt. Blizzard (976m). I was getting progressively tired, but the day was getting progressively more pleasant and the views were beginning to open up... Down Mt. Blizzard, and 1 or 2 km later was a view point that is called "Pic de l'aube." At this point the skies cleared up almost entirely, the sun came out and the views were nothing short of extraordinary. I sat down at Pic de l'aube and had lunch while soaking up the beautiful view of the parc, and even the Gulf of Saint Lawrence 30km away. It was a quick 1km from the Pic to the Mésange hut, where I met Marie-Christine and Colin, a father and daughter team. Upon my arrival at the Mésange, the skies opened up and it poured rain for the next hour....during which Luc and Denis showed up looking very much like drowned rats. We passed a pleasant evening together and it continued to rain hard during the night.

On August 12, I had planned only a short day, with about a 400m net descent over the course of about 15km. I left the Mésange at about 8h30, with the Pluvier hut as my destination. The morning began sunny, but quickly turned overcast and trail was wet due to all the rain from the previous evening. The only notable element of that section of the trail is a view point called Pic du Brulé, but upon my arrival it was so foggy that there was almost no views. Nonetheless, owing to its cliff-side location, it was an interesting place to visit as the harsh weather and high winds permits on dwarf trees. Speaking with a park naturalist, he indicated that many of the trees were over 100 years old, despite being only 5 or 6 feet high. Anyway, once again the skies became very cloudy and it began raining very hard. The naturalist and I hiked off towards Cascapedia Lake where the Pluvier hut is located. Along the way, we encountered probably a dozen day-hikers, mainly europeans and particularly rude and pretentious tourists from France. At the Pluvier hut, I was joined by four other hikers for the night -- they had intended to stay at a tent site in the campground, but with the very wet weather decided that it would be nice to spend at least one night in a dry bed. As fortune has it, the Pluvier is co-located with the campground, so I was able to take a hot shower and buy a cold Coke. Showers are 0.50$ for 4 minutes, so bring some quarters with you if you are planning to hike there.... Late in the afternoon, we had a moose walk right in front of the hut (see the Pluvier photo....)

The next morning was again overcast and the trail was wet and muddy. It was a short day, about 10 or 11 km to the Paruline hut. The map showed a net climb of about 600m, but the trail did not feel as steep as previous days. It was a quiet trip up Mt. Ellis (1,000m) and Mt. du Milieu (950m) but the views were mediocre due to the overcast skies. I did manage to capture a few incredible photos of an owl a few hundred metres away from the Paruline. Once again, just after my arrival the skies opened up and it rained very hard for about 45 minutes. It was a full house at the Paruline that night, with all 8 beds being occupied. Marco and Lino were a team of brothers from Montréal, Steve and Anita were a husband and wife team, and three cadets from the Royal Military College joined me for a quiet night.

August 14 was my day to hike on Mt. Albert, one of the crown jewels of the park. I departed early in the morning as I wanted ample time to soak up the sights and I knew that the Harfang hut would be a 20 km walk. For a change, it was sunny, clear, and warm. Cheered on by these favourable conditions, I walked about 8 km or so at which point the forest opened up and Mt. Albert appeared before me. It was incredibly beautiful. I climbed up Mt. Albert and slowly wandered along the path that encircles the summit. The views were breath-taking and I was all alone. It was almost a spiritual experience, and definitely the highlight of the trip. I proceeded down Mt. Albert which required about 0.5 km of boulder-scrambling, followed by 5 or 6 km of exceptionally rocky trail with a total descent of about 800m. There is no good place to put your feet, so you end up hopping from one rock to another. Hiking poles would have been an invaluable asset for this section of the trail. I arrived at the Harfang hut in mid-afternoon, and as it is co-located with the park information centre, I hit the bistro for a burger and beer (mmm!) In late afternoon (you guessed it!) it began to rain hard.

At 9h00 the next morning, I caught the shuttle to the opposite end of the park where you climb Mt. Jacques-Cartier (1,270m). The shuttle costs about $11, and it carries about 30 people to the trail head. The ascent of Jacques-Cartier is a bit steep, but the path is wide and consists of baseball sized rock. On the way up, I chatted a fair bit with another parc naturalist and she pointed out to me a number of caribou on the horizon and explained how the rocks on the mountain are arranged in polygons due to the relentless freeze-thaw cycle. It was a fabulous opportunity for me. We continued up the mountain under a light drizzle, and happened upon 4 or 5 caribou about 100 metres away. We hid behind the large cairns to observe them. I left her at the summit of Jacques-Cartier and I continued onwards to the west side of the mountain. The skies cleared up, and it was a pleasant walk with beautiful views to the Tétras hut where I lit a fire to dry my gear. Shortly after my arrival at Tétras, a family of four from Saint Jean sur Richelieu joined me for the evening. Desiring an early departure I went to bed early.

On my last day, August 16, I departed at 6h00 as I wanted to finish my final 15 km and still have adequate time for a 10 hour drive home. The morning was cool, calm and sunny. I hiked about 3 km to Mt. Xalibu (1,140m) and the views were outstanding. I spent about 45 minutes alone on the summit of Xalibu marveling that a place could be that beautiful. At last, recognizing the long day ahead of me, I moved on and hiked a nice 3 or 4 km piece through the forest. After a brief snack-stop at Lac aux Américains, I continued on to finish the trail at the park's interpretation centre. A quick shower at the campground (again, bring your quarters!) and I hit the road for home.

Weather aside, I was a wonderful trip and I cannot wait to do it again. I paid the Québec government about $230 for the shuttles, the park access, and the hut rental, but it was money well spent. The huts were fabulous and the shuttles made life a great deal easier. When I do it again, I will take advantage of the Park's policy of allowing people to leave boxes of food at a couple of locations, which will allow me to lighten up even more!:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun:banana:banana


09-13-2008, 22:51
Thank you very much for your fine report!:)

09-14-2008, 07:34
yes, thank you for sharing that.
Gaspe has been an area on my list of places to visit for some time now.
Your trip report makes it even more inviting.:cool:

09-14-2008, 08:08
Thanks SJ!

09-14-2008, 08:40
How well maintained is the trail? I am reading Mother Nature's Sons' IAT journal right now and it sounds quite overgrown/hard to follow in Quebec.

09-14-2008, 11:15

I only hiked the 100 km that traverses the Parc National de la Gaspésie. I have no direct knowledge of the sections south-west or east of the park.

However, that being said, Luc and Denis commenced their hike west of the park in the section that crosses the Réserve Faunique de Matane (ie, the Matane Wildlife Reserve). They indicated to me that the trail was a great deal more rough and less well maintained in that section, but that the views were fabulous from the mountains. Apparently the trail has no real facilities in the Matane, so a tent would be a necessity.

Later in the trip as I was descending Mt. Jacque-Cartier, I encountered an anglophone couple who crossed the entire Matane section and indicated similar observations.

In any event, the 100km section that crosses the parc is well maintained and the route is generally will indicated and obvious to follow (I think I was 'lost' for about 5 minutes during the entire trip). The ups and downs through the mountains make it interesting. The trail is not well-travelled. I only encountered about two dozen hikers (mainly day hikers between Lake Cascapedia and Pic du Brulé) over the course of a week. I would guess that the Matane section and Capchat sections would be even quieter.


09-14-2008, 13:44
Thanks for the details, sounds like you had a great time despite the weather.

walkin' wally
09-15-2008, 15:21
Thanks for the info. I really hope to be there one day. Sounds great. Tomorrow I am off to Fundy National Parc N.B. for 5 days.

Thanks again,


neighbor dave
02-19-2009, 15:21
How well maintained is the trail? I am reading Mother Nature's Sons' IAT journal right now and it sounds quite overgrown/hard to follow in Quebec.
i was up there in 2002 and the reserve faunique du matane was rough, brushy, and wild. we were joking that a sadistic wild billygoat must have laid out the trail. the string that is used to mark,cut, and measure the trail was still on the ground,our feet getting tangled up in it. the tent platforms were brand new and the privies didn't even smell they were so new. awesome stuff though, and the parc de la gaspesie is just that a parc. graded footpaths and really nice cabins. we were up there after the peak season, never made reservations and had the cabins to ourselves. i wanna thru the whole thing