Some friends and I got together for a Canoe trip at La Mauricie National Park, which is located a little over two hours north of Montréal, Quebec. We thought the canoe-in campsites (open mid-May to mid-October) were the perfect match for all of our varying camping skill levels but don't forget the other options available for you such as Group Camping, or an oTENTik. You can call ahead (1-877-737-3783) or book your campsite online and to make things easier there are three boat rental stores in the park as well.
Our trip into the park was quick thanks to the friendly staff, and we could catch glimpses of the varied terrain on the windy road into the interior of of the park. The roadway was quite popular with cyclists thanks to the paved roads and frequent pull-over spots overlooking lakes and rivers.
It is a leisurely hour or two paddle to any of the campsites along the main stretch of water and immediately you will be in awe of the surrounding hills and greenery.
The more varied the topography the more I enjoy a canoe trip, and La Mauricie's tall hills, cliffs and rock faces had me rather enamoured.
Once we arrived at the campsite we had the only rain of the trip, but the thick canopy of the forest made for easy setup without getting too wet. Each campsite has a single tentpad and we were able to squeeze a two-person tent beside a three-person tent on it.
There are two choices for campsites for three people that either include a fireplace ($24.50 per night) or without ($15.70 per night). I was quite surprised to see how much pre-chopped wood is available for your use (as burning deadfall is not allowed). I was surprised at how clean the campsites were of litter compared to some that I have been on in Ontario. Kudos to Parks Canada for maintaining them.
The campsites are all far enough apart to give everyone adequate privacy, and there is a shared bear food bag stand to hang your food at night.
Over the next few days we explored the surrounding lakes via canoe and hiked some of the trails.
I highly recommend the hike in to Waber Falls who's cascade is the perfect place to cool off after the hour long hike in.
Every morning the mist would roll along the trees and made each morning paddle something special to see.
I think the sign of a good trip was the fact that three of the four of us were asleep in the vehicle on our trip back to Montréal (I still had a five hour drive back to where I live in Ontario). Without a doubt, I will definitely be back with my own lightweight canoe to explore La Mauricie's backcountry campsites. There are quite a few to choose from, including lots of hiking/snowshoeing trails depending on the season.