With fall in full force, Quebec's landscapes are still casting gorgeous hues of red, orange and gold across the province and there's really no better time to explore Quebec's natural wonders than to embark on a hike and catch the autumn magic up close.
For those who are eager to catch the fall foliage in Quebec, the province is home to many must-see spots and one hiking destination, in particular, offers views overlooking the remarkable rich fall shades and a quaint small town.
Located only 45 minutes from Montreal is Mont-Saint-Hilaire — a popular hiking spot with loads of trails for you to discover. The Gault Nature Reserve offers a 25-kilometre network of trails and four different summits to overlook.
The Gault Nature Reserve is owned by McGill University and includes trails such as the Rocky Loop, Dieppe Trail, the Yellow Trail and the Mont Saint-Hilaire Grand Tour trail, all of which offer stunning views of the fall foliage and nearby towns.
The reserve itself protects more than 1,000 hectares of natural land and allows visitors to take in panoramic views of the "last great vestiges of old-growth forests in the St. Lawrence Valley," the Gault Nature Reserve said on its website.
The mountain is open all year round (from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily) and provides visitors with opportunities to feast their eyes on over 600 species of higher plants, over 800 known species of butterflies and 353 known types of minerals, 50 of which are new to science, the Gault Nature Reserve said. In fact, Mont-Saint-Hilaire, which sits as high as 414 metres, is the least disturbed of all the Monteregian Mountains, is the richest in terms of natural beauty, and cultural interest, and is considered one of the top mineralogical sites in the world.
While cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, birdwatching and taking in loads of natural sights and species are popular things to do, hiking remains the most sought-after activity at Mont Saint-Hilaire. For those hoping to get views of Lac Hertel, you'll want to embark on the Rocky 2 Loop, which is 8 kilometres long and takes roughly three hours to complete.
For guests looking for something a bit easier on the back and knees, the Boardwalk Loop (1 km) is a 20-minute trail that connects to Lac Hertel. Additionally, the Boucle Mauve and Burned Hill Loop trails, which do not extend more than 5 kilometres, take approximately an hour and a half to complete, making it a shorter and more simple hike. While all the hiking trails are properly marked, guests are also welcome to follow the online trail map.
The Gault Nature Reserve at Mont-Saint-Hilaire is free for those 17 years old and under and costs $9.55 for a day pass for those 18 and up.
An online reservation is required for your visit. Parking, washrooms and a welcome centre are all available on-site.
Where: 422 chemin des Moulins, Mont-Saint-Hilaire, QC
Distance from Montreal: 45 minutes
This article's right-hand cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.