Up North, for real

Urban Quebec is just a dim and distant memory after just a week or so on the road. We (foolishly) abandoned our original travel plans in favor of a route that would take us farther along the St. Lawrence River into northern Quebec. After all, we can see forests and rolling hills anywhere. But how many chances does one get to travel along a great shipping channel?

So, we headed out of Quebec City toward National Parc du Bic. Hello??? We knew there was a pet ban in nearly all Quebec National Parks, but did we confirm that for this location? Obviously not. After a scenic drive, we arrived at our destination, only to be reminded of the pet ban. We were chased northward to Rimuski Camping, a funky little motel/campground. We spend another night being pounded by rain, and departed to Sugarloaf Mountain Provincial Park the next morning.

Canada’s Provincial Parks are the equivalent to our State Parks. We’ve been in several now, and all have had huge, relatively private campsites with pristine bathrooms. All seem have extensive recycling programs, and superb maintenance. Camping here is a real pleasure. Sugarloaf has not only a ski hill, with challenging runs for all abilities, but also a popular bike park, full of twisty mountain bike trails with crazy jumps and long rickety narrow bridges, jammed with crazies sporting full face helmets and protective gear. The ski lift is equipped with special hooks for bikes to make the 800′ trip to the top effortless and quick. See that the chair ahead has a bike, but nobody in the chair. Attendants at the top snag the bikes and have them ready to go for the rider approaching in the next seat.

Although there weren’t any great vantage points from which to watch this spectacle, we saw lots of guys (only two women) risking life and limb to race down. Not for the faint of heart.

For us, we decided to hike to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, which is totally separate from the ski area. The trail circled the base of the Mountain innocently, until we hit Trail #9. In less than a kilometer, we climbed about 800 feet! That’s steep. A portion that section had a vertical ladder-like thing to assist the assent. Here’s the view going up and down. Seriously steep.

The photos really don’t capture the grade of this ladder. At the top, we were rewarded with a fantastic view.

Across the River is the province of Quebec. We are in New Brunswick.

Our other day at Sugarloaf, we split up – I was dying for a bike ride, and John wandered on foot. I rode about 40 miles to Dalhousie and back, following the River. Several great views and farm market were my reward. These photos are from downtown Campbellton, near the Park. The green bridge connects Quebec to New Brunswick. Salmon fishing is the name of the game in these parts. The shoreline is beautiful, beginning to show fall colors (not very evident in these photos)

Our next stop is one we were excited about – our very first National Park of Canada – Kouchibouguac – pronounced koo-she-boo-gwach, meaning ‘river of the long tides’. Oh yeah….

We had this great, 300-site campground nearly to ourselves. Our neighboring campsites are what they call oTENTiks. These are a cross between a lean-to and a cabin.

inside, they have built in bunks with mattresses, heat, and a beautiful sturdy fat wooden table/chairs. Outside, there’s a big gas grill, and a big overhang with Adirondack chairs. It’s so inviting. At Sugarloaf, they were even better – elevated on stilts – so each was about 5′ aboveground, with green metal roofs. As we were getting pounded by rain, all I could think of was how wonderful it would be inside, listening to the rain, safe and dry. Bring your sleeping bag, food, and you are camping! This seems like a great way to introduce families to camping without a big cash outlay. Most of these structures were designed to sleep up to six people comfortably.

We cycled around the 25 mile path at Kouchibouguac, packing regular shoes to get off our bikes to walk the scenic trails. By far, the best one was the boardwalk out to the Bay of St. Lawrence. It was calm and beautiful (it can NEVER hurt to have such a place all to yourself).

At the beach, we had custody of two perfect chairs. There was nobody else in sight.

Sadly, the rest of the day was down hill after this. We strolled the salt Marsh trail, surrounded by shoulder-high vegetation, then visited the Mi’kmaw Big Wagwam area where activities celebrating the indigenous culture are celebrated.


So, I’m a bit short of photos to account for a pretty great, albeit wet, week of camping in New Brunswick. We are still coming up short in our quest to sight a moose. Perhaps they are the mythical snipe of Canada. But, roadside warnings make you BELIEVE they do exist. Who wouldn’t be watchful after seeing this sign every few miles along the road? (Shot through the windshield, apologies for the photo quality).

Perhaps I really don’t want to see one! Our Vermont friends had an unfortunate nighttime encounter a few years ago when an 800 pound yearling moose darted into the front passenger side of their Prius. The moose died, their car was destroyed, but they escaped unscathed. So, maybe the mythical moose is best unseen.

We’re in Halifax now, battened down for more than 2″ of rain tonight. Looking forward to bike rides, ferry transit into the city, lobster and scallops. On to remote Cape Breton after that.

13 thoughts on “Up North, for real

  1. Other than the rain that you mentioned, it looks like a good trip with some good scenery along the way. I liked the idea of the cabins, if only they had smaller ones for single people or couples.

    Moose are larger than elk, but I think that elk are more impressive looking than moose are. But, I’ve never seen a really big bull moose.

    I liked the trail up the mountain, much better, safer, and easier than most that I’ve seen.


    • Hi Jerry. Yes. It’s been a pretty good trip so far. The weather, while annoying, hasn’t kept us from doing too much. We’ve been lucky to have had really nice days in Montreal and Quebec City when we really needed it to be decent.

      That trail up Sugarloaf only had the ladder up a few hundred feet of really steep rocky, weedy stuff. Some of the other parts were just gravel, which was tricky and hard on your feet.

      I’ve been blown away by Nova Scotia. It’s picturebook-perfect. Excited to get my thoughts and photos ready for the next post. What a surprise this has been!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. so glad to see you found some blue skies. some. a foggy rainy time of year it seems. Your 40 mile bike ride was inspiring and love this adventure! Liz



    • Blue skies have been hard to come by, it seems, but what can you do?

      I’m liking our experience in Canada way more than I expected. The campgrounds here have all been great!

      Got winter escape plans this year, Liz?


    • Thanks Deb. This is really beautiful country up here, and the campgrounds are wonderful. I think even a non-camper like you would love hanging out in an oTENTik – like a treehouse! Maybe we should have a GNO (Canada Edition) sometime!


  3. Your adventures, though wet this time, are so tempting! You really need to collect your blogs in a book for those of us who are wandering wannabes.


    • Alison, these posts would make a terrible book! But, the old ones are all still out there on the server, and should stay there for years. You can also search a topic – I haven’t done a great job of tagging and categorizing things, but it’s as close to a book index as you’ll get!

      Hope you are regaining mobility to strike out on your own adventures soon.


  4. Yes, please be careful of seeing moose while driving! Do you have a “deer whistle” on the Fire Truck? We have a “Hornet” Ken installed on the Ram and we believe it has saved us from deer running in front of us many times.

    Looks like fascinating country, and lobster! Yummmm…


    • Hi Robin. We don’t have a deer whistle on the truck – they are pretty common in Michigan. I’ve often wondered how effective they are. I guess that we need to be wandering around at dawn or dusk to improve our chances of actually seeing a moose. We’ve seen lots of elk over the years, and plenty of bison, but I really need to round out my big animal sights!

      We are currently getting absolutely pounded by rain in Halifax. Plotting our swim route to safety. 😊


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