Located about 2 hours outside of Montreal, the Coaticook Gorge has a pretty neat claim to fame: the world’s longest suspended footbridge. Are you imaging your walk over a 164 foot gorge on a wobbly (dare-I-say) Quebec-constructed bridge? I’m exaggerating, of course; I get weak in the knees when it comes to heights but I was so distracted by the raw beauty of the gorge that I barely noticed the height. Oh, and don’t worry, it doesn’t wobble! I promise you the kids will love this adventure and it is certainly worth the 2 hour drive.
The park is open year-round but I highly recommend going in the spring when the snow has just about melted away. There won’t be as many crowds and the animals are just coming out of hibernation foraging for food. The paths are very hiker- and biker-friendly (the trails are even horse-friendly). I would caution that strollers are not easily pushed throughout the entire park but a good portion is steady ground and would be suitable for all-terrain strollers. However, I would still recommend a baby carrier for the non-walking tots.
We were lucky enough to see a family of wild deer while we were there and I spotted quite a number of wild birds, small mammals and the odd amphibian. I feel particularly honored by our sightings because our dog (dogs allowed!) usually scares away most little beasts with her panting and general rowdiness.
Open mid-May to mid-October, the park’s campground has everything to suit your needs from rustic tent sites to full-service sites. I haven’t told my husband yet but there is even a rustic hut that accommodates up to 6 people–even in the winter (only $60/day)! It’s on my to-do list for this year. The campground rates are very reasonable.
While the trails are not overly strenuous, I would recommend making a full day of the park. Hike in with a lunch (remember to leave no trace) and enjoy the amazing sights and sounds of nature. Guided tours are available in English and in French but they aren’t necessary to learn about the park’s history. There are plenty of signs and plaques to keep the children entertained and the adults informed.
Finally, I highly recommend dining in one of the many local restaurants for supper. Many of the restaurants are proud supporters of Quebec’s local produce and serve organic meat and veggies. Once the bellies are full, load up the car and breathe a sigh of relief as you enjoy the silent –trust me, the kids will be snoring in no time–drive home.
Address: 400, rue Saint-Marc, Coaticook, Quebec J1A 2T7
A few sites to explore: