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Hiking To The Summit Of Le Mont Albert In Quebec

Hiking to the Summit of Le Mont Albert in Quebec

What an unexpected treat it turned out to be hiking to the summit of Le Mont Albert in the Chic Choc Mountains of Quebec.

The Chic Chocs, a narrow mountain range that forms the northern extension of the Appalachians are located inland on Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula in Gaspé National Park.  There are 25 peaks in the range over 1000 metres high, but only two are of interest to me –Le Mont-Jacques-Cartier and Le Mont Albert.

Le Mont Albert in Quebec

Le Mont-Jacques-Cartier has a certain appeal

It’s the tallest mountain in southern Quebec topping out at 1,268 metres. It’s home to the last remaining herd of woodland caribou south of the St. Lawrence River. Chances of caribou sightings are very high compared to hiking Mont Albert. Access though is strictly controlled.

The trail to the summit is only open from June 24th until September 30th and you can only hike between 10 am and 4 pm. Another off-putting factor is the fact you must take a shuttle to the trailhead, and that’s at least a 40 minute drive from the Visitor’s Center.

Le Mont Albert is an enormous flat-topped mountain with a super-sized summit plateau.

It shares the same opening dates as Le Mont-Jacques-Cartier but you can hike it at any time of the day. It’s reportedly a harder hike but the trailhead is just a walk from the Visitor’s Center and it’s for this reason I elected to hike it. I’m told by a fellow hiker I won’t regret my decision.

And I don’t!

"A representation of the summit"

A representation of the summit

"The steep section of trail is littered with boulders"

The steep section of trail is littered with boulders

The hike to the summit of Le Mont Albert

First I had to find the trail which I eventually do. All trail signs are in French.

In total the loop hike is 17 kilometres long. It’s recommended that you allow 6-8 hours to do it.

I chose to hike up rather than down the steepest part of the loop. After an hour of what feels like a non-stop stair stepper workout I’m wondering what I’ve got myself into. I like a rigorous work-out but I’m not a fan of hikes where you see nothing but trees. And except for a few peek-a-boo views that’s all it’s been so far.

"View from part way up down to the Gites du Mont Alberta - a 4* hotel"

View from part way up down to the Gites du Mont Albert – a 4 star hotel

"The first views from the top of Mont Albert"

The first views from the top

After five kilometres, 885 metres of elevation gain and two solid hours of hiking I emerge from the trees. The transition is abrupt. One minute there are trees, the next alpine tundra.

The summit is a landscape of lichen covered rock, hardy alpine flowers, stunted spruce trees and bog. But that’s not all. As you ascend the last few hundred meters of trail the vistas open and one of the biggest surprises of my hiking life unfolds.

I have never seen a summit like that of Le Mont Albert. Massive barely begins to describe it. Its 13 kilometres across, over 20 square kilometres in size and home to two summits – Albert North (1,070 metres) and Albert South (1,151 metres.) 

Most of the summit plateau is boggy –and next to impossible to hike if you’re a human but perfect if you’re one of the woodland caribou that hang out here.

"Looking in another direction from the summit"

Looking in another direction from the summit

"A summit that's 20 square kilometers in size"

A summit that’s 20 square kilometers in size

"Clouds start building early in the day"

Clouds start building early in the day

The summit of Le Mont Albert

Mont Albert North is where I’ve arrived at and I’m quite happy to park myself on one of the wooden benches scattered around the summit. I could sit for hours admiring the 360 degree views but threatening clouds to the north shorten my stay on top.

Just before beginning my descent I chat with some fellow hikers. They’ve hiked both Mont Albert and Le Mont-Jacques-Cartier and tell me I have chosen the prettier, less traveled peak.

"An inukshuk on the summit"

"Markers would be very helpful on a foggy day"

These markers would be very helpful on a foggy day

"Boardwalks traverse soggy ground"

Boardwalks traverse soggy ground

"Heading down - steeply at first"

Heading down – steeply at first

"Marker letting me know I have a long way to go"

I have a long way to hike from here – 10.5 kms

A series of boardwalks lead me across the boggy sections to the start of a section that is steep and rocky. The trail winds its’ way all the way around the mountain and leads me back to the Visitor Center – with interesting views for three of the four hours it takes me to descend.

But the hiking is never easy until I’m on the home stretch. In fact there is what feels like kilometers of boulder hopping. These would be slippery and miserable to deal with if they were wet.

"A beautiful set of waterfalls "

A beautiful set of waterfalls

"Valley on the way down"

"Ankle breaking, knee twisting rocks for what felt like kilometers"

Ankle breaking, knee twisting boulders for what felt like kilometers

"You can fill up your water bottle"

You can fill up your water bottle at the river

"A small shelter along the trail"

A small shelter along the trail

"Back into the trees"

Back into the trees

"Just when you think the walking should get easier the roots show up..."

Just when you think the walking should get easier the roots show up…

"Chute du Diable"

Chute du Diable

"A set of waterfalls near the start of the trail"

A set of waterfalls near the start of the trail

"The beautiful, easy final stretch of trail"

The beautiful, easy final stretch of trail

Hiking to the top of Le Mont-Albert is one of the most surprising and rewarding hikes I’ve ever done – and that’s without a caribou sighting. But the reality is that it should only be attempted by seasoned and prepared hikers. Choose Mont-Jacques-Cartier for an easier alternative.

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

Hiking to the Summit of Le Mont Albert in 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 32 Comments
  1. Incredibly beautiful photos, Leigh! I had never heard of Le Mont Albert before – we have such a beautiful country and I love how your posts take me to parts of it that I would be unlikely to see otherwise.

    1. @Lisa Outside of Quebec or some hard core outdoorsy types from the northeastern US I don’t think many people have heard of Mont Albert let alone the Chic Chocs. It was an outstanding hike – one of the best of the summer.

  2. Magnificent!! I still can’t get over Mont Albert in all of its flatness! But the views once you arrived at the summit are indeed worth the rigorous workout! And I would love to see that 4-Star Resort. Do you know the name of it?

    1. @Jeff I guess if I’d done some more research ahead of time I would have appreciated that not only the flatness but the size of the mountain itself. But sometimes it’s nice to have such a pleasant surprise. The hotel is called Gite du Mont Albert.

  3. Wow, emerging from the trees on the way up must have been spectacular. What a view! Le Mont-Jacques-Cartier definitely has an appeal from what I can see in your photos — and it has such a beautiful name. 🙂 Oh, those roots in the path look challenging, but very cool.

  4. That is some spectacular scenery! I have never heard of Le Mont-Albert or Le Mont-Jacques-Cartier but I surely will remember them now. Those boulders look very intimidating. I’m not cut out for 6-8 hour hikes so I always love virtually traveling with you to these remote and incredible places. Love the waterfalls shots!

  5. Great to read something about hiking in Eastern Canada. Western Canada gets most of the focus over here in the UK, and I’m sure there are some wonderful trails our East. Thanks Leigh for some inspiration.

  6. Hi Leigh…came across your review by googling Mont. Albert. I’m up in Gaspe right now, and am going to hike it tomorrow….something seemed familiar with the review here, especially the vivid photos, then I saw it was your blog site…beautiful shots as always!

  7. Hello were are leaving next weekend to Gaspesie and of course trying de mont Albert hike question how long did it take you how much in shape are you because i was reading its very very hard could you please let know my husband is not in great shape his in shape but not quite at his best and another questions i am very scared of bears should we be worried? thank you

    1. @Roxanne I’d call it a hard hike and would choose the other hike – Mount Jacques Cartier – where you get shuttled part of the way up so there’s not as much vertical gain. There are enough people on the trails that bears aren’t a big issue. Talk a lot and make noise. Hike with others. And carry a can of bear spray.

  8. Thanks, I went part way up the other day, but could not ascend any further, due to a storm with high winds on top. I used your photos to psych myself up for the 17 km that I did complete. It was wonderful.

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