After a lot of thinking about where to go for the long weekend, my partner and I decided to take a refreshing camping trip to Québec where we wanted to try a hike that would surely test our limits. A 7-hour drive from Ottawa, Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière Malbaie National Park is located in the Charlevoix region of Québec. We spent the long weekend trekking the legendary Acropole des Draveurs trail, canoeing along the placid Malbaie river, and conversing by the crackling fire at night, and if that doesn’t already sound perfect, the weather could not have been any better.

Acropole des Draveurs is an 11.2 kilometer hike at 2,640 feet elevation on Montagne des Érables. It kicked our asses, but it was well worth the stunning views. After what seemed like an eternity walking through river streams, across slippery ice, over muddy pathways, and up large stone steps, we finally reached the summit, and we felt invincible. The top gave us a clear view of the river gorge in all its glory coupled with a gorgeous scenery of the Laurentian Mountains.

If you’re thinking of undergoing this trek, here are some insightful tips to help you prepare.

  • Hike at your own pace and drink plenty of fluids. Make sure to fill your daypack with snacks and drinks to revitalize your energy. 
  • Bring sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat even if it’s a partially cloudy day. This is a lengthy hike, so the weather could change at any given moment, and although it’s the month of May, you most absolutely can burn! People often don’t think about the intensity of the sun in May, but coming from experience, it can do some pretty extensive damage.
  • Bringing an extra layer of clothing can also help protect yourself from the sun, and since there are certain areas on this hike with fair amounts of ice and snow (if hiking at this time of year), you may need it to keep warm too!
  • Toss a compass into your daypack. The path isn’t always clear, and if there isn’t anybody around, it can get a little confusing at times. Melting ice in the mountains creates larger river streams, which can result in taking slightly different routes at times. It just so happens that we had to make a small detour due to the amount water that had flooded over the trail. By going further upstream, we were able to cross over a less dangerous part of the river by stepping on some of the stones that were still visible over the water.
  • If you’re allergic to everything like I am, bring allergy medication. The last thing you’d want is for your sinuses to annoy you during a long hike.
  • Wear comfortable shoes! Your feet will be thanking you the next day, but your legs will hurt regardless of what you do — I can promise you that much.

Overall, the hike took us 5 hours including a 45-minute break at the summit. It’s going to be different for everybody, but at a steady pace with a few pauses to take in all the wonderful sights, it takes between 4 to 6 hours for most people.

Have you tried this strenuous hike? How long did it take you to complete it?

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