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Parc national du Lac-Témiscouata

Home to one of the largest lakes in the southeastern part of the Canadian province of Quebec, Parc national du Lac Témiscouata (Lac-Témiscouata National Park) is a provincially protected area that’s popular among outdoor recreationists. The park is best known for its namesake lake, but it also boasts 8 named peaks, the highest and most prominent of which is Montagne du Fourneau (370 m/1,214 ft).

Parc national du Lac Témiscouata, Quebec

Geography

Lac-Témiscouata National Park (parc national du Lac-Témiscouata) is a protected area located in the southeastern part of the Canadian province of Quebec. It encompasses an area of about 175 sq. km (68 sq. mi), and it’s located in the Témiscouata regional county municipality (MRC) within the Bas-Saint-Laurent region.

As its name suggests, Lac-Témiscouata National Park’s main feature is its namesake lake. With a maximum length of around 45 km (28 mi) and a maximum width of around 5 km (3.1 mi), Lac Témiscouata is one of the largest bodies of freshwater in southeastern Quebec. The park also includes the lake’s only island—Île Notre-Dame.

Besides the lake, the park is densely forested and its terrain is dominated by low-lying hills. Lac-Témiscouata National Park is also traversed by the Touladi River and the Ashberish River. There are a number of winding streams and waterfalls in the park as well as old-growth forests and cedar groves.

The park is actually split into two areas: the northeastern area that includes the sectors of Saint-Juste and Squatec, and a much smaller southeastern area that includes the sector of Dégelis.

It’s worth noting that, although it is called a “national park,” Lac-Témiscouata National Park is protected and managed on the provincial level as a national park of Quebec. As a result, it is administered by Sépaq rather than Parks Canada as would be the case with national parks of Canada.

Parc national du Lac Témiscouata, Quebec

Due to its location just to the south of the Gaspésie Peninsula and its distance from some of Quebec’s largest cities, Lac-Témiscouata National Park is a fairly remote destination. As such, it is surrounded by other areas of public land.

Some of the many other hiking areas that are located within driving distance of Lac-Témiscouata National Park include ZEC Owen, ZEC du Bas-Saint-Laurent, réserve faunique des Rivières-Matapédia-et-Patapédia, réserve écologique Charles-B.-Banville, and réserve faunique de Duchénier. The closest provincial parks to Lac Témiscouata are parc national de la Gaspésie and parc national du Bic.

Geology

The peaks within the Lac Témiscouata region are part of the Notre Dame Mountains. The Notre Dame Mountains are a subrange of the Canadian Appalachians that covers much of Quebec to the south of the Saint Lawrence River. In turn, the Canadian Appalachians are a subsection of the greater Appalachians, which extend from the northern part of the US state of Alabama all the way to northern Newfoundland.

Parc national du Lac Témiscouata, Quebec

These peaks formed alongside the rest of the northern Appalachians. In particular, the Taconic orogeny played a sizable role in the creation of the Notre Dame Mountains as well as the formation of the Long Range Mountains, Longfellow Mountains, and Green Mountains.

The rock composition of the Notre Dame Mountains varies. However, most of the rocks in the region are sedimentary in origin, including various sandstones, limestones, and conglomerates, the bulk of which are Silurian and Devonian in age. There are also some metamorphic rocks in the region (particularly slate) as well as some igneous intrusions.

In more recent millennia, the area of Lac Témiscouata experienced widespread glaciation. The glaciers and ice sheets of the Pleistocene helped to carve out the many valleys that we see in the region today and they eroded away at the jagged peaks of the Notre Dame Mountains, leaving us with the rounded summits that currently dominate the Lac Témiscouata area.

Major peaks located within the national park include Montagne du Fourneau, Montagne des Blocs, Montagne du Serpent, and Pointe Ronde.

Ecology

The ecology of the Lac Témiscouata area is similar to that of the surrounding region. While parts of the region were heavily logged in decades past, there are some relatively old-growth forests in Lac-Témiscouata National Park, too.

Parc national du Lac Témiscouata, Quebec

For the most part, the landscape of Lac-Témiscouata National Park is heavily forested. It’s estimated that over 90% of the park is forested terrain. Some of the most common tree species in the area include yellow birch, red spruce, balsam fir, larch, white pine, red pine, and sugar maples.

Additionally, the park is home to a handful of other ecosystems such as peat bogs, swamps, and marshes. There are a number of rare species found in the park, including bulbous calypso, bog valerian, Andromeda-flower pterospora, and Leiberg's water-lily.

As far as wildlife goes, the park is home to at least 40 species of mammals, including moose, coyotes, white-tailed deer, red foxes, stoats, American minks, black bears, Canada lynx, fishers, snowshoe hares, and river otters.

The park’s lakes and rivers are the perfect habitats for a variety of fish species, including brook trout, lake trout, lake whitefish, yellow perch, and three-spined stickleback. Some of the many amphibians that live in the region include wood frogs, bullfrogs, and four-toed salamanders.

Lac-Témiscouata National Park is also home to an array of bird species. This includes ospreys, American kestrels, red-tailed hawks, hen harriers, and broad-winged hawks, among others.

Parc national du Lac Témiscouata, Quebec

Human History

Humans have lived in the area that is now Lac-Témiscouata National Park for thousands of years. The park is part of the traditional territory of the Wəlastəkwewiyik (Maliseet) and Miꞌkmaq, whose ancestors have lived in the region since time immemorial.

Researchers have uncovered more than 60 archeological sites within the Lac Témiscouata area and more than 50 within the park itself. The oldest artifacts in the region date back around 9,400 to 9,000 years and most of these artifacts were originally located near the Touladi lakes.

Historically, many First Nations traveled through and lived in the Lac Témiscouata region to take advantage of the area’s prime environment for hunting and gathering. The region is also home to a sizable amount of chert, which has historically been used to make tools and weapons.

People of European descent first started arriving in the Lac Témiscouata region sometime during the eighteenth century, though France started colonizing the area that is now Quebec during the early seventeenth century.

Parc national du Lac Témiscouata, Quebec

Parishes started to appear throughout the Lac Témiscouata area during the nineteenth century. In 1839, the British also built Fort Ingall near the shores of the lake as a defense mechanism during the bloodless Aroostook War. The fort itself was eventually demolished during the early twentieth century, but it was reconstructed in the 1970s.

The idea for Lac-Témiscouata National Park began with a conservation movement in the 1960s. In 1996, the managers of Quebec’s provincial parks started to look for potential sites in the southern part of the province that had the qualities needed for a national park of Quebec. During this process, the area of Lac Témiscouata was identified as being a good candidate for a future national park.

In 2003, the Témisoucata MRC petitioned the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks (Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs) in Quebec to create a national park around the lake. After a few years of consultative meetings and discussions, Lac-Témiscouata National Park was formally established in 2009.

Best Hikes in Lac-Témiscouata National Park

Lac-Témiscouata National Park boasts 10 maintained trails that feature a total of 38 km (23.6 mi) of walkable paths. Each of these trails offers something different for hikers and there’s something in the park to suit adventurers of all interests and skill levels.

Parc national du Lac Témiscouata, Quebec

The best hikes in Lac-Témiscouata National Park include:

  • Montagne-du-Fourneau (5.8 km/3.6 mi) – A family-friendly trail through a pinewood forest with a great view of Lac Témiscouata. Starts at the Anse-à-William Discovery and Visitors Centre.
  • Rivière-des-Mémoires (13.2 km/8.2 mi) – A casual, yet long, hike along one of the main rivers of the park. Starts from the Jardin des Mémoires parking lot.
  • Sutherland (6 km/3.7 mi) – A family-friendly hike to Sutherland Falls. Offers views of Lac Rond and boasts wooden walkways over beautiful marshes. Starts from the Chemin Sutherland parking lot.
  • Montagne-de-Chert – (5.2 km/3.2 mi) – A fun hike through an old maple forest where you can get great views of the Touladi lakes. Starts from the Montagne de Chert parking lot.
  • Draveur (9.4 km/5.8 mi) – A great connecting trail between Grand la Touladi and the Garden of Memories. Provides great views of the lake and its sandy shores. Starts from either Jardin des Mémoires or the Grand-Lac-Touladi Visitors Centre.
  • Grands-Pins (5.8 km/3.6 mi) – A quick climb to a high point above Lac Témiscouata. Starts at the Grands-Pins Visitors Centre.
  • Crépuscule (1.8 km/1.1 mi) – A relatively new trail in the Dégalis sector that takes you to a viewpoint over Lac Témiscouata. Starts at the Grands-Pins Visitors Centre.
  • Belvédères (1.4 km/0.9 mi) – Another relatively new hike with views of Lac Témiscouata. Starts from the Grands-Pins Visitors Centre.
  • Grey Owl (11 km/6.8 mi) – A hybrid hiking and biking trail that takes you along the shores of Lac Témiscouata and brings you to a picnic area on Curé-Cyr. Starts at the Anse-à-William Discovery and Visitors Centre or the De la Passerelle Visitors Centre.
  • Vieux-Quai (2.8 km/1.7 mi) – A short hybrid hiking and biking trail that takes you to the Vieux Quai (old dock). Starts at the Anse-à-William Discovery and Visitors Centre.

Parc national du Lac Témiscouata, Quebec

It’s also worth mentioning that the Petit Témis Interprovincial Bicycle Path runs partially through Lac-Témiscouata National Park. This trail is 134 km (83 mi) long and it boasts gravel paths that connect Quebec and New Brunswick. It runs along a decommissioned railway line and all of the slopes on the trail have a gradient of 4% or less, so it’s suitable for both hiking and cycling.

Other Outdoor Activities in Lac-Témiscouata National Park

In addition to its hiking trails, Lac-Témiscouata National Park offers a number of other outdoor recreation opportunities. Some of the many activities you can enjoy in the park include:

  • Biking – There are two bike paths that are wholly contained within Lac-Témiscouata National Park: the Grey Owl Trail and the Vieux-Quai Trail. The park also allows road biking on its paved roads, though cyclists should be wary of oncoming traffic, especially during the busy summer months. You can rent bikes at some of the park’s visitor centers.
  • Fishing – Visitors to Lac-Témiscouata National Park can fish on the Touladi River, Petit Lac Touladi, and Grand Lac Touladi. However, you will need to follow all park regulations when fishing and you need to purchase a daily fishing rights pass in order to cast lines in the park. Fishing on Lac Témiscouata normally falls under provincial fishing regulations. For more information about fishing in the park, head to the Sépaq website.
  • Kayaking & Canoeing – Canoeing and kayaking opportunities abound in Lac-Témiscouata National Park. You can paddle during the late spring, summer, and early fall months in the park on its largest lakes. Kayak rentals are also available at some of the park’s visitor centers.
  • Paddleboarding & Pedal boating – Lac-Témiscouata National Park provides opportunities for paddleboarding and pedal boating. You can rent both types of craft at some of the park’s visitor centers.
  • Snowshoeing – During the winter months, Lac-Témiscouata National Park offers limited snowshoeing on some of its trails. Keep in mind that most of the park’s visitor centers are closed during the winter, so you will need to purchase your daily access pass online or head to a self-registration site to pay your entrance fees for your snowshoeing trip.

Parc national du Lac Témiscouata, Quebec

Before Visiting ​​Lac-Témiscouata National Park: Essential Information

Lac-Témiscouata National Park is one of the most popular national parks of Quebec for families and for anyone else who enjoys watersports. Here are some essential bits of information to keep in mind before your next visit to the park.

Entrance Fees

As is the case with most national parks of Quebec, there is an entrance fee for all visitors over the age of 17 to Lac-Témiscouata National Park. Park entrance fees are charged per adult, per day.

If you plan to visit the park for more than a week in a given year, an annual park card might be a good option. Alternatively, if you want to visit multiple national parks in Quebec, you may want to consider the Annual Québec National Parks Card, which gets you unlimited access to all of the national parks of Quebec for 12 months.

Keep in mind that the park’s entrance fee doesn’t include fishing access rights, hut fees, or camping fees. Anglers need to pay for a daily right of access pass to fish in the park. Check out the Sépaq website for the most up-to-date information about fees for Lac-Témiscouata National Park.

Getting to the Park

Lac-Témiscouata National Park is fairly easy to get to by road. You can access the park via Quebec Route 185, which will take you to Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! and the community of Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac to the south of the lake.

From there, you can travel along QC Route 232 to get to the northwestern side of the park or you can take QC Route 85 and QC Route 295 to the southern and eastern sides of the park.

Keep in mind that GPS units are sometimes inaccurate when it comes to driving directions in this part of Quebec. You can find detailed driving directions from most of the region’s major cities on the Sépaq website.

Visitor & Registration Centers

There are five main visitor and registration centers in Lac-Témiscouata National Park, including:

  • Anse-à-William Discovery and Visitors Centre
  • Petit-Lac-Touladi Discovery and Visitors Centre
  • Grand-Lac-Touladi Discovery and Visitors Centre
  • De La Passerelle Discovery and Visitors Centre
  • Des Grands-Pins Discovery and Visitors Centre

Most of these visitor centers offer reception areas where you can get more information about the park as well as gift shops, equipment rental stores, playgrounds, free Wi-Fi access, potable water and bathrooms, and self-registration kiosks.

Note that the majority of these visitor centers are not open during the winter months and that most are only open during the daytime hours. Head to the Sépaq website for more detailed information about the opening schedules for each visitor center.

Parc national du Lac Témiscouata, Quebec

Accommodations & Camping in ​​Lac-Témiscouata National Park

Lac-Témiscouata National Park offers a number of camping and accommodation options for visitors who want to spend the night under the stars. Here’s what you need to know before you leave home.

Campgrounds

There are two developed campgrounds with tent camping sites in Lac-Témiscouata National Park:

  • Anse-à-William Campground – Located in the Squatec sector, this campground has 72 campsites. Some of these campsites feature water and electrical hookups while others are semi-serviced and have both washrooms and potable water located nearby. The campground is also situated close to a playground and near the Anse-à-William Discovery and Visitor Centre.
  • Grand-Lac-Touladi Campground – Located in the Saint-Juste sector, this campground has 66 campsites. Some of these sites have both water and electrical hookups and the rest are situated near washrooms and potable water taps. The campground is also situated near the Close to Des Curieux de Nature Trail and it is located along the banks of the Grand lac Touladi.

Keep in mind that you’ll need reservations to stay at these campgrounds. Sites can fill up quickly during the summer months, so be sure to book your stay online well in advance to avoid disappointment.

Ready-to-Camp

Ready-to-Camps are a type of pre-pitched canvas tent that you can find in many national parks of Quebec. They are ideal for campers who don’t have a lot of their own gear or for people who just don’t want to deal with the hassle of setting up a tent.

There are 9 Ready-to-Camps in the Anse-à-William Campground and 14 Ready-to-Camps in the Grands-Pins Campground. (Note that the Grands-Pins Campground doesn’t have regular tent sites available—only Ready-to-Camps.)

Each Ready-to-Camp has two large beds, a full set of cooking equipment and an electric cooker, a picnic table, lighting, and a space heater. This makes it ideal for couples, families, and small groups who want to visit the park in style.

As is the case with the campgrounds in the park, you need to make reservations online in order to stay in Lac-Témiscouata National Park’s Ready-to-Camps. Since there are so few of these sites, it’s highly recommended that you book your stay well in advance of your trip.

Canoe Camping

Lac-Témiscouata National Park offers limited canoe camping for intrepid visitors who want to experience some of the most beautiful areas of the park. There are a handful of canoe camping sites located on the shores of Grand lac Touladi.

The only way to reach the sites is via a 1.3 km (0.8 mi) long paddle, which takes most canoeists about 30 minutes to complete. Each site has freestanding tent platforms and pit toilets but you will need to bring your own food and supplies.

Reservations are required for canoe camping in the park as spots are limited. You can call Sépaq directly at +1 (800) 665-6527 to reserve your canoe camping site.

Huts

In addition to its campsites and Ready-to-Camp sites, Lac-Témiscouata National Park offers two rentable huts for visitors to choose from. These huts are:

  • Cascades Sutherland Hut – Located on the Bas-Saint-Laurent National Trail, this hut provides great views and convenient excellent access to Sutherland Falls. It can comfortably house 6 guests and it has a wood stove.
  • Curé-Cyr Hut – Situated near the Anse-à-William Discovery and Visitor Centre by a sandy beach on Lac Témiscouata, this hut is the perfect destination for people looking to spend some time on the water. It can comfortably house 8 guests and it has a wood stove.

As there are only two huts in the park that are available for rent, reservations tend to fill up quickly. You can book your stay in one of the park's huts by calling Sépaq directly at +1 (800) 665-6527.

Nearby Cities & Towns

Looking for a place to stay during your next trip to Lac-Témiscouata National Park? Here are some of the best cities and towns to check out in the region.

Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac, Quebec

Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac is one of the largest communities in the area around Lac Témiscouata. The municipality was officially created in 2010 after the mergers of a handful of communities including Cabano and Notre-Dame-du-Lac.

Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac, Quebec

Nowadays, Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac is home to around 5,000 residents. It is situated on the southern side of the lake and is one of the main destinations for tourists to the region.

Lac Témiscouatais one of the major attractions in the town and it is particularly popular for visitors looking to go fishing, swimming, and boating during their holidays. Another popular destination in Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac is Fort Ingall, which is a reconstructed nineteenth-century British Fort.

Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, Quebec

If you saw the name Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! and thought “that can’t actually be a town name, right?” you’re not alone. But Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! is a real place and it’s a small town that’s located just to the south of Lac Témiscouata.

The Ha! Ha! in the town’s name is believed to refer to the presence of a hâ-hâ, which is a type of sunken fence that was commonly used in parks and gardens during the eighteenth century. Hâ-hâs were particularly popular in French gardens at the time and the trend spread to England where it was also used in some upscale landscaped gardens.

It’s worth noting that Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! is not the only town with an exclamation point in its name. The village of Westward Ho! in Devon, England, also has an exclamation point in its name that comes from the name of the 1855 novel Westward Ho! By Charles Kingsley. But Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! is the only town with two exclamation points in its name.

The town itself has only around 1,300 residents, so it’s much smaller than many of its neighbors. There are a few restaurants, shops, and hotels in Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, but you can also get most of the services you need in the Cabano section of Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac.

Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec

Rivière-du-Loup is a city of approximately 20,000 people located to the west of the Lac-Témiscouata National Park on the shores of the Saint Lawrence River. The town features a plethora of shops, restaurants, cafés, and hotels, particularly along rue LaFontaine, which is one of its main commercial areas.

Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec

Due to the fact that Rivière-du-Loup is located about halfway between Montreal and the town of Gaspé, the city is a common stopping point for trips to the Gaspé Peninsula. The Trans-Canada Highway also passes through the city as it heads toward New Brunswick. You can also take a ferry across the Saint Lawrence River to Rivière-du-Loup from Saint-Siméon.

Edmunston, New Brunswick

Edmunston is a city of around 17,000 residents that’s located between Quebec and the US state of Maine in New Brunswick. It is among the largest cities in northwestern New Brunswick and it serves as a commercial center for the surrounding area in Quebec, too.

Despite its relatively large size, Edmonton's economy is mostly centered on the paper and forestry industries. It is also a major provider of healthcare in the area and it is home to a campus of the University of Moncton.

Edmunston is home to a number of attractions and it hosts a handful of important events each year. In particular, it hosts an annual jazz festival in June and in August and it hosts a cultural festival called the Foire Brayonne each summer. Other notable attractions in the city include the New Brunswick Botanical Garden and the nearby ski resort at Mont Farlagne.

Quebec City, Quebec

Quebec City is the capital of the province of Quebec. It is home to around 530,000 people, which makes it the second-largest city in the province after Montreal.

Quebec City Canada

Although it isn’t as big as Montreal, there’s no shortage of cultural sites and attractions in Quebec City. In fact, Quebec City is one of the oldest European-established cities still in existence in North America as it was the site of the colony created by Samuel de Champlain of France in 1608.

Quebec City boasts many important attractions including its old town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is also a major transportation hub in the region as it is easily accessible by road, rail, water, and air.

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