You can view the picturesque scenery of some of the wilderness from the comfortable passenger trains of VIA
Rail Canada service, which travels from coast to coast. My recent tour on VIA rail along the stretch between the
two major Province cities and then a van tour of the Beaupre Coast outside of Quebec City opened my eyes to the immense beauty found in
the Canadian countryside. The Province includes over 30,000 square miles of mostly scenic wilderness. For those who like to bicycle, North
America's largest network of bike paths winds along the coast.
I visited the area in the summer when most places are easily accessible for this warm weather lover. Just outside of the city is Montmorency Falls, with an impressive 9,200
gallons of water plunging down 275 feet every second. Walkways and a tram offer scenic overlooks from several points around the falls and access to the Manoir
Montmorency, a restaurant on the hill with a great view.
The Sainte-Anne Canyon is a deep ravine carved into the Canadian Shield during the glacial era. The imposing
270-foot Sainte-Anne falls and 900 million year old rock offers footpaths and 3 suspension bridges through a beautiful gorge. Chutes, crevices, boulders, potholes and deep splitting "pockets"
grooved into the craggy canyon topography offer unique sights. Highly recommended is Do the Canyon Tour to view the Giant's Cauldron, mini canyon waterfalls and
more. Thrill seekers can do a for-the-brave-only Canopy Canyon Adventure zip line across the gorg. The steel cables of a Nepal aerial bridge are a mere 185 feet above the river
below. There is a shuttle bus back and forth from the main building to the 200-foot long Mestachibo Bridge above the falls.
A restaurant and roofed outdoor terrace are available. The falls are even more beautiful than Montmorency and hikers
will find even more places to enjoy the wilderness. It is only about 30 minutes from downtown Quebec City,
directly on the main road 138 east towards Charlevoix. For more info, visit www.canyonste-anne.qc.ca.
Not far away is Mont Sainte-Anne, which is some 2,800 feet above sea level. Take the 15-minute gondola ride
to the top of the mountain to check out the exceptional view of the St. Lawrence River and the surrounding
area. The great vantage point is also a great spot for paragliders that leap off the mountaintop. A paragliding
school offers visitors a unique chance to fly with a certified instructor. What a gorgeous view the "flyers" must have!
Mountain biking is a big time summer sport on the mountain and the enclosed gondolas are set up for handling
the bikes and the helmet- and knee pad-wearing bikers. It's a ski resort complex in the winter, but numerous
bike trails there are challenging for the mountain bikers that brave the impressive descent. There are plenty of
trails to hike at the summit, base and through the mountain. There is a waterfall at the bottom of the valley
and breathtaking vistas along the way up. For the daring, you can experience the vertical ecstasy of canyoning by rappelling down the Jean-Larose waterfall.
At the summit in the summer months (and the mountain base in the winter) is the Sled Dog Village with
several teams of Husky dogs living in individual dog houses. Their trainer is more than happy to tell you all
about their "culture", behavior and life in the facility. It's an interesting learning experience. At the bottom is a
very good restaurant and the Le Grand Vallon golf course for those that want to soak in the ambiance at a lower level. For more info, visit www.mont-sainte-anne.com.
Also along the Beaupre Coast of the St. Lawrence River northeast of Quebec City is the Cap-Tourmente National Wildlife Area, a sanctuary that boasts
the largest known marsh of American Bulrush. You can bird-watch or encounter animals in their natural habitat and learn about them in their Biodiversity Interpretation nature center (open
from mid-April to late October) from expert naturalist guides. Visitors can walk or hike the lowlands on catwalks and marked trails throughout the park and even picnic there. The
masses of Greater Snow Geese that cover the wetlands at low tide are only there for a migratory stopover in the colder months of fall and spring. You'll have to make a trip back if you
visit at another time. For more info, visit www.tourmente.com.
Quebec's Beaupre Coast has a lot to offer visitors and you should not miss it. The memories will last forever!