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A Coastal Hike In Forillon National Park, Quebec

A Coastal Hike in Forillon National Park, Quebec

Forillon National Park sits at the eastern tip of the Gaspé Peninsula, sandwiched between the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Gaspé Bay. The park’s diverse landscape is made up of forest, small lakes, and rugged cliffs on two of the park’s three sides as well as cobble beaches and tiny coves. If it’s a clear day, the coastal views are impressive and you stand a good chance of seeing marine wildlife including seals, whales and seabirds.

Although a variety of mammals inhabit the park, including moose, black bears, beavers, coyotes, ermine, snowshoe hares, mink and lynx, consider yourself lucky if you see any of them. The best I could do was a few porcupines in the vicinity of the lighthouse.

A view of Forillon National Park from Petit-Cap

A view of Forillon National Park from Petit-Cap

Hiking in Forillon National Park

The park offers eight hikes from an easy 0.6 km hike to a challenging 17.6 km  wilderness hike. One called Les Graves, a trail which largely follows the coast, is the one I chose to hike. You can start at any number of spots depending on your energy level and enthusiasm. I started at Grand-Grave and ended up doing an out and back hike in four hours that totaled 15.2 km (9.4 mi). I could have started at Mont Saint-Alban and added 4 km (2.5 mi) to the day or shortened it and just done the hike to the lighthouse for a total of 8 km (5.0 mi) return. For the truly energetic hiker, there is the possibility of adding a 7.8 km (4.8 mi) loop that also begins at Mont Saint-Alban. It heads up a hill and offers sea and cliff scenery from an observation tower. The loop could be done at the beginning or end of the Les Graves trail but you’d need another three hours to do it.

Les Graves

Les Graves is an outstanding hike and very family friendly because it offers so many diversions. In Grand-Grave, a fishing village in the late 19th and early 20th century, guides dressed in period costumes demonstrate some of what life’s day to day activities looked like back then. Once you’re finished with Grand-Cave, the trail meanders along grassy paths to meadows bursting with wildflowers. Interspersed are pretty, cobble beaches and spectacular views of eroding cliffs. Any birders in the group should be on alert for great blue herons, gulls, double breasted cormorants, terns, black-legged kittiwakes, razorbills, black guillemots and sandpipers.

This trail has loads of spots that are perfect for a picnic. Choose one of the beaches or wait until you reach the lighthouse and snag a picnic table with a view of rugged 95 m (312 ft) cliffs. The lighthouse can be reached by one of two trails; either via a coastal road or an inland, forested trail. The forested section seems less taxing to ascend than the road. And once at the top, there is the option for those with energy to burn to descend on a trail past the lighthouse to a viewpoint over the water. Also near the lighthouse, is the zero marker for the Canadian portion of the International Appalachian Trail. Forillon is the endpoint – or start, depending on your perspective.

I truly loved the hike. It was easy walking for the most part and between expansive, wildflower filled views, stops at pebble beaches and a visit to a lighthouse overlooking dramatic cliffs, it was a winner.

Here’s a look at Les Graves trail in Forillon National Park.

My starting point is right beside this pretty barn

My starting point is right beside this pretty barn

Les Graves Trail has some mileage markers and is very easy to follow

The trail has some mileage markers and is very easy to follow

Looking down Gaspe Bay

Looking down Gaspe Bay

Wildflowers and pebble coves make for pleasing scenery in Forillon National Park

Wildflowers and pebble coves make for pleasing scenery

Beautiful, mostly deserted beaches along Les Graves Trail

Beautiful, mostly deserted beaches along Les Graves Trail

Hike through a tunnel of green

Hike through a tunnel of green

This hike is a section of the International Appalachian Trail

This hike is a section of the International Appalachian Trail

"A coastline of cliffs"

"Purple wildflower"

I’ve never seen these wildflowers before – name??

"eroded rocks"

Rocks are equally interesting to look at

"people walking Les Graves trail"

I only saw a handful of people on the coastal section of the trail

We both jumped when we surprised each other

We both jumped when we surprised each other

The lighthouse at Cap-Gaspe

The lighthouse at Cap-Gaspe

Stormy skies add to the drama on the hike

Stormy skies add to the drama on the hike

"Whale watching boats heading out from the town of Gaspe"

Whale watching boats heading out from the town of Gaspe

"Stormy skies make for dramatic lighting"

Stormy skies make for dramatic lighting

"Ending the hike at an old fishing cabin"

Ending the hike at an old fishing cabin

Should you be lucky enough to visit Forillon National Park here are some pointers.

  • The entrance fee is $7.80 per adult.
  • The visitor center is open from June 21st until September 2nd.
  • Wilderness camping is open all year round. The Petit-Gaspe campground is open the longest – from May 17th until October 13th.
  • Bring food and water with you.
  • The town of Gaspé is only a 40 minute drive away. Percé Rock and Bonaventure Island is another hour from there.
  • There are lots of pretty, small towns on the Gulf of St. Lawrence side to stay in.
  • For more information visit the Forillon National Park website.

Click on the image below to pin.

A Coastal Hike in Forillon National Park, Quebec

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 57,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 20 Comments
  1. Wow! It looks gorgeous. What a beautiful place and one I’ve never heard of.

    As for the “wildflower” it looks like nightshade, which is toxic and invasive (but pretty) and probably a non-native weed in that part of the country. I’m always trying to pull them out of my gardens before they bloom and go to seed.

  2. This hike reminds me a bit of the Lost Coast part in northern California. Minus the porcupine. Did you time your hike to coincide with wildflower season? I swear I always miss it here in California – it’s too brief!

  3. Spent 5 days camping at Forillon went whale watching, kayaking with the seals and day trips. Going back this summer. Love gaspe.

  4. the mystery wildflower is not a native wildflower but an introduced (but very pretty) weed – Solanum dulcamara, bittersweet or climbing nightshade. I’m not sure, but it may be an invasive problem weed in Quebec. Still, very pretty.

  5. Thank you for this post! There’s not very much information about the Gaspe peninsula online, especially in English. Thank you for sharing your experience hiking at Forillon. I’m planning a motorcycle trip here this summer and have been looking for information online about all the hikes and other things to do in the area. Between this and your post about the hikes at the Gaspesie National Park I’ve got plenty to look into. Thanks!

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