wildlife reserve in Quebec, Canada
North America > Canada > Quebec > Central Quebec > Quebec Region > Laurentides Wildlife Reserve

The Réserve faunique des Laurentides (formerly designated Parc des Laurentides) (English: Laurentides Wildlife Reserve) is a public territory for the conservation, development and practice of recreational activities. Its vast territory extends into the Laurentians, from Haute-Mauricie and Haute-Batiscanie (to the west), to the Saguenay valley (to the east). It covers in particular the administrative regions of Capitale-Nationale, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and Mauricie, in Quebec, in Canada.

Réserve faunique des Laurentides covers 7,861 km2 (3,035 sq mi) and includes more than 2000 lakes and rivers. This reserve is managed by the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs and the Société des establishments de plein air du Québec (SÉPAQ). The government applies integrated management of natural resources, including forests and wildlife, on the territory of the Laurentides wildlife reserve.

The enhancement of the natural heritage of the reserve involves various interventions relating to the conservation, restoration and development of habitats. Several research projects in the reserve allow us to understand the dynamics of ecosystems.

Understand Edit

The highest mountain peak in the reserve is 1,219 m (3,999 ft). The forest cover is mainly composed of conifers and balsam fir to white birch.

In addition, the reserve offers various packages combining accommodation and several recreational tourism activities.

Fauna Edit

Terrestrial fauna includes mainly: caribou, beaver, snowshoe hare, wolf, lynx, moose, black bear and fox. The reserve is home to a wide variety of birds that nest or live near water bodies, including: ruffed grouse, spruce grouse, ring-necked loon and heron.

History Edit

This reserve was created in 1968 with the objective of democratizing hunting and fishing in Quebec. The territory had been operated by 22 private hunting and fishing clubs.

The toponym of the wildlife reserve evokes the seigneury of the same name granted in 1636 by the Compagnie de la Nouvelle-France to Jacques Leneuf de La Poterie. The first Portneuviens settlers settled around 1636 near the port at the mouth of the river "port neuf" (meaning "new port"). Leneuf de La Poterie would have added the last syllable to the usual toponym to form the word Portneuf. Toponymically, the common name Portneuf applies to 14 entities or places, in particular: the seigneury, the MRC, the wildlife reserve, the city, the former county of Quebec, a lake and three rivers.

Halte L'Étape Edit

Route 175 connects Quebec and Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, more or less follows the old route of the Jesuit trail from the 17th century and the "chemin des Poteaux" laid out at the beginning of the 20th century.

SÉPAQ operates a major rest area on route 175, in the Laurentides wildlife reserve, between Quebec City and Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean. This rest area is located on the west shore of lac Jacques-Cartier, ie 95 km (59 mi) north of Quebec City. La Loutre campsite is located between the buildings of this rest area and Lac Jacques-Cartier.

The L’Étape rest area is the last rest stop of this type on this provincial road. In 1869, a first relay was built on this same site; it consisted of a log cabin with a bread oven to serve travelers. Before 1870, this forest and mountain road was not very suitable for vehicles; it was even dangerous, particularly in winter, at night, in bad weather or in meeting wild animals. Along the logging route, several shelters had been set up during the construction of the road and to meet the needs of workers in logging operations and generally traveling on foot. These shelters were separated between 12 and 20 km from each other.

Between the First and the Second World War, this road stopped at the halt when leaving Quebec. A forest protection post has been set up there. In 1951, following the completion of Boulevard Talbot in Chicoutimi, the Government of Quebec erected a hotel complex at L'Étape comprising, in particular, accommodation, restaurants, a gas station, and various facilities offering products and services for lovers of nature activities, including fishing and hunting. These original buildings were demolished, apart from a service station and a restaurant which perpetuate the vocation of the site.

The Gates of Hell Edit

The expression "Gates of Hell" refers to a narrow passage, a breach, a defile in the mountains. In Réserve faunique des Laurentides, the Portes de l'Enfer valley refers to a well-boxed segment of the Pikauba river, flowing between the surrounding mountains whose peaks reach over 1,000 m (3,300 ft) of altitude. This zone is 12 km (7.5 mi) northwest of lac Jacques-Cartier and 4.5 km (2.8 mi) southwest Route 175, between the Pies stream and the confluence of the Hell stream. A cliff of approximately 200 m (660 ft) facing northeast, faces the deep valley of the Pikauba River.

In this zone, the expression "Portes de l'Enfer" has been known since 1865, while a colonization route, practicable only in winter, is laid out in particular in a segment of the Chicoutimi River, in order to link Quebec City and Lac-Saint-Jean. In addition to the very rugged relief of this area, this toponymic designation also evokes the harsh climate in winter. Today, a friendly pavilion and comfortable chalets have been fitted out for the benefit of nature lovers, in particular fishermen and hunters.

The wildlife reserve operates a well-developed vacation site on the banks of the Pikauba river; it consists of a main lodge and 10 log cabins. It is frequented by nature lovers, particularly fishermen and shoemakers.

Geography Edit

The lac Jacques-Cartier (12 km2 (4.6 sq mi)) is the largest body of water in the wildlife reserve. The vast territory of the reserve drains towards:

  • the Saint-Laurent river, via the rivers: Batiscan river, Jacques-Cartier river, Montmorency river and Sainte-Anne river;
  • the Saguenay, via the rivers: Métabetchouane river, Chicoutimi river, rivière à Mars.

Thomas-Fortin Ecological Reserve Edit

Established in 1990, the Thomas-Fortin ecological reserve has an area of 117.86 hectares (291.2 acres) which is part of the Laurentides Wildlife Reserve. This reserve is {{km|50} northwest of Baie-Saint-Paul and 2 km (1.2 mi) west of Grands-Jardins park. This ecological reserve was created with the aim of preserving a plant cover of the domain of the balsam fir to white birch. This area would not have been disturbed by forest fires or by insect epidemics. The toponym of this reserve evokes the work of life of Thomas Fortin (1858-1941) who was the instigator of the creation of the Laurentian park in 1895.

Go Edit

The main reception stations of the wildlife reserve are:

  • Accueil du Camp Mercier (Camp Mercier Reception Center), located at kilometer 94 of route 175, 10 km (6.2 mi) from the southern entrance to the Laurentides Wildlife Reserve. Camp Mercier is a renowned cross-country ski centre because it generally benefits from excellent snow conditions. The network of cross-country ski trails stretches over 70 km (43 mi) linear trails (including 50 km (31 mi) for the classic step and 20 km (12 mi) for the skate). Since winter 2021-2022, outdoor enthusiasts have benefited from a new building, fitted out with large windows, offering a view of the access to the slopes, the slide and the outdoor fireplace. From Camp Mercier, nature lovers benefit from 33 linear km of snowshoe trails, offering bucolic views of mountain landscapes and snow-capped valleys. Snowshoers can go to Le Pic relay and a lean-to, both 800 m (2,600 ft) above sea level. Open summer, fall and winter.
  • Accueil La Loutre (La Loutre Reception Center), at kilometer 135 (L'Étape rest area) on route 175, 51 km (32 mi) from the southern entrance to the Laurentides wildlife reserve. A campsite is set up there on the west shore of Lac Jacques-Cartier. Open summer and fall.
  • Accueil Gîte-du-Berger (Gîte-du-Berger Reception Center). Cottage on the north shore of Lake Clarence-Gagnon, along route 169, connecting Hébertville to the fork of route 175 (southeast of Mont Apica).

The reception stations of the wildlife reserve offer:

  • rental: fishing rod, cross-country ski equipment, bedding, gasoline engine, electric motor, snowshoes, personal flotation device;
  • in various services: first aid service (cross-country skiing), radio communication, recording, information, patrollers (cross-country skiing), snack bar (cross-country skiing), waxing room (cross-country skiing) and public telephone;
  • on sale: bait, souvenir items, wood, access rights for hunting, access rights for fishing, ice, lures, hunting licenses and fishing licenses.

Réserve faunique des Laurentides offers various family activities and activities for young children, with accommodation and services, particularly fishing, wildlife observation and hunting (12 years and over).

Dogs are allowed in wildlife reserves, however limited to certain places.

By car Edit

  • From Montreal (317 km (197 mi). Time: 3 hr 3 min, take highway 20 (south shore) eastbound, to Quebec; take highway 73 (north); take highway 40 (east); take highway 73 (north) which becomes route 175 (north), to the wildlife reserve reception center.
  • From Quebec City (59.5 km (37.0 mi). Time: 39 min, take highway 73 (north) which becomes route 175 (north), to the wildlife reserve reception center.

Get around Edit

Map of Laurentides Wildlife Reserve

Geographical maps Edit

On its website, SÉPAQ makes available to the public, in particular:

  • General map of the Laurentides Wildlife Reserve: General map of the Laurentides Wildlife Reserve;
  • the 2022 fishing plan: [1];
  • the ABCs of small game hunting: [2];
  • the 2022 moose hunting plan: [3]
  • the Avenza Maps application, in order to help hikers, fishermen or hunters to geolocate their position from the various maps of the territory.

Users should consult the SÉPAQ website before visiting the reserve; they can book their package there according to the desired activities.

See Edit

  • Belvédères d'observation du panorama et haltes routières (Panorama observation lookouts and rest stops). The Laurentides wildlife reserve has various lookouts and observation points to appreciate nature, including:route 169: at Mont-Apica. The Mont Apica culminates at 880 m. altitude. The summit is 2.2 km (1.4 mi) northwest of the center of the hamlet of Mont-Apica and one kilometer southwest of route 169. A weather station, including a radar, was in operation at its top.Route 175: L'Étape stop, Jacques-Cartier lake observation point (northern part of the lake), Talbot boulevard stop.

Do Edit

Summer activities Edit

  • Chasse au petit gibier (Small game hunting). Six sectors of the reserve welcome stayers: Belle-Rivière (Modik chalets), Cyriac, L'Étape, Gîte-du-Berger, Montagnais and Sept-Îles. ATV (Quad) hunting is authorized for customers staying on a Small game hunting package with accommodation. The reserve offers small game hunting packages for the day, or for accommodation.
  • Chasse à l'orignal (Moose hunting). The reserve offers a general map of the 110 hunting sectors on its site. Moose hunting is subject to quotas; the attributions of the hunting sectors are made by drawing lots. The reserve is part of the provincial hunting zone 27 west.
  • Pêche sportive (Sport fishing). Anglers can read the 2022 fishing plan on the SÉPAQ website, as well as the lake map. The aquatic fauna is mainly made up of arctic char, brook trout (speckled trout) and lake trout (lake trout). The reserve offers fishing packages with accommodation or day fishing; as well as wading or fishing-camping..
  • Sentiers de randonnée (Hiking trails). The map of hiking trails is available on the SÉPAQ.
  • Patinoire et glissade (Skating rink and sliding). An ice rink and a slide are set up near the Lac-à-Noël and Devlin chalets, for the benefit of accommodation customers; these infrastructures are available from December to April, depending on weather conditions.AQ.

Winter activities Edit

Buy Edit

Eat Edit

  • 1 Relais Mont-Apica, Route 169 (in the hamlet of Mont-Apica). Restaurant for travellers. The Mont-Apica belvedere offers a magnificent view of the forest and mountain surroundings.
  • 2 Relais L'Étape, Route 175 (at kilometer 135.), +1 418-846-1080. Catering service for travellers, with gas station, convenience store and charging stations for electric vehicles. About 30 employees, staying in a dedicated residence, work there.

Drink Edit

Sleep Edit

Chalet Edit

Camping Edit

  • 2 Camping Belle-Rivière, chemin Laferté, Saint-André-du-Lac-Saint-Jean (on the north shore of Lac de la Belle-Rivière, at km 57 of route d'Hébertville. Leaving from Quebec, take route 175 North; at km 166, take the exit to merge onto route 169 North; follow the road signs for 6 km of forest path, up to the Belle-Rivière campsite), +1 418-558-3102, . Campground with 45 pitches and 4 Hékipia tents for hire. On the edge of a 10-km-long lake.
  • 3 Camping La Loutre, Route 175, +1 418-846-2201. Campground with 144 sites and eight cabins on the west shore of Lac Jacques-Cartier at the L'Étape roadside rest area. There is a restaurant, a gas station, a convenience store and charging stations for electric vehicles.

Go next Edit

  • 1 ZEC des Martres Controlled exploitation zone (ZEC) covering 424 km2 (164 sq mi), of the MRC de Charlevoix.
  • 2 Des Grands-Jardins National Park National park covering 319 km2 (123 sq mi) in Charlevoix. It is one of the central areas of the Charlevoix Biosphere Reserve, a status granted by UNESCO in 1988.
  • 3 Hautes-Gorges-de-la-rivière-Malbaie National Park National park covering 225 km2 (87 sq mi) in Charlevoix. It is one of the central areas of the Charlevoix World Biosphere Reserve, a status granted by UNESCO.
  • 4 ZEC Mars-Moulin   Controlled exploitation zone (ZEC) covering Template:Kn2, of the MRC Le Fjord-du-Saguenay.
  • 5 Lac-Bouchette   Municipality of the MRC du Domaine-du-Roy, in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean.
  • 6 Lac-Ashuapmushuan   Unorganized territory of the MRC du Domaine-du-Roy, in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean.
  • 7 Zec Kiskissink Controlled exploitation zone (ZEC) northeast of the city of La Tuque. It covers an area of 830 km2 (320 sq mi)
  • 8 La Tuque City of Haute-Mauricie, with 11,000 inhabitants in 2016. The three Indian reserves which are on its territory, have their own administration. This vast territory of 28,099 km2 (10,849 sq mi), especially forest, is a paradise for recreational and tourism activities.
  • 9 Lac-Édouard Municipality of Haute-Batiscanie, the village of Lac-Édouard is located on the shores of Lake Édouard. This locality is famous for its sanatorium which was in operation during the first half of the 20th century, for its economic vocation in forestry and for its recreational tourism activities. (resort, outfitters, nautical activities, snowmobiling, mountain biking).
  • 10 Zec de la Rivière-Blanche Controlled exploitation zone (ZEC) covering 729 km2 (281 sq mi) in the county of Portneuf. It is bounded to the south by the Portneuf Wildlife Reserve and to the west by the ZEC Jeannotte; to the east by the Zec Batiscan-Neilson and to the north by the Laurentides Wildlife Reserve.
  • 11 ZEC Batiscan-Neilson Controlled zone of exploitation (ZEC) of the MRC of Portneuf, forming part of the hydrographic slope of the Sainte-Anne river.
  • 12 Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier   A national park of 670 km2 (260 sq mi) in the Jacques-Cartier river valley, north of Quebec City.
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