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Mont du Lac à l’Empêche – Beautiful Fall Hike in Quebec

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Mont du Lac à l’Empêche – Everything You Need to Know

Mont du Lac à l’Empêche or Mont du Lac-à-l’Empêche et du Four is an amazing hike located in Parc national des Grands-Jardins in the Charlevoix Regional County Municipality.

It is one of the best hikes to do in Quebec during Fall to see the Fall colours because once you are at the top, you will be able to see the golden trees for miles in the valley below.

It is also less popular than other hikes so you might have the trail almost completely to yourself. We only saw a couple of other people when we hiked it.

The trail takes you over a few different summits so you get to enjoy stunning views of the valley for the majority of the way.

There are two different ways that you can do this hike. You can do it as an out an back which is about 8km / 4.9 miles with an elevation gain of 301 metres / 987 ft. This is what we chose to do as we did the hike for sunrise and because it started snowing we were too cold to continue on.

Alternatively you could do the entire trail which is a 12.7km / 7.9 miles loop with an elevation gain of 541 metres / 1,774 ft.

Doing the trail this way will take you all of the way to Mont Du Four which is the last summit and has awesome views. Make sure you bring a hat and sunscreen because each summit is very exposed.

couple on Mont-du-Lac-a-lEpeche hike in Quebec at sunrise

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📑 Hike Stats for Mont du Lac à l’Empêche

Distance: 8km / 4.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 301 metres / 987 ft
Time: 2.5 hours
Dog Friendly: Yes, on leash
Toilets: None along the trail or in the parking lot

📑 Hike Stats for Mont du Lac à l’Empêche et du Four

Distance: 12.7km / 7.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 541 metres / 1,774 ft
Time: 4 hours
Dog Friendly: Yes, on leash
Toilets: None along the trail or in the parking lot

📍 Finding the Trailhead

We found the trailhead for this hike kind of tricky. Make sure you use the map below to find the parking lot rather than searching for the name of the trail in google maps as this will try to direct you to the middle of the trail where there is no parking or vehicle access.

To get to the trailhead, you will be taken off the main road down a gravel road until you reach the pin on the map below. You will probably see a couple of other cars parked here.

Click here to open the map in Google Maps!

🎫 Hiking Pass

There is no hiking pass needed to hike Mont du Lac-à-l’Empêche et du Four, however you might need to pay for access to the road.

Quebec in the Fall

We did not come across anyone asking for a fee to access the road, however reading recent trail reviews on Alltrails, it seems that this may be a possibility, as well as the rental of a hiking bib in hunting season.

🥾 Trail Difficulty

Mont du Lac-à-l’Empêche et du Four is a moderately difficult trail. The elevation is not insane, however some of the hiking trail does get a little rooty so you need to watch your footing and the trail is fairly long.

🕔 How Long Does it Take to Hike Mont du Lac à l’Empêche

If you are only hiking to the first summit as an out and back, it will take you about 2.5 hours and if you are hiking the whole Mont du Lac-à-l’Empêche et du Four trail, it will take you about 4 hours.

🚶‍♀️ Trail Description

The trail starts out pretty flat where you will be walking on a relatively wide trail. You will pass a cabin/chalet pretty soon after starting hiking on your right which you can stay in but will need to book via the website here.

Continue hiking, following the pink markers through the trees. The trail becomes a bit tighter but is still pretty well maintained. You will hike up and down all the way along the trail to get to each summit.

2023 Note: There have been a lot of comments this year about a beaver damn along the trail where you will either need to get your feet wet or hike back the way you came. Check AllTrails before you set out to see if this is still there.

couple on Mont du Lac à l’Empêche at sunrise

☀ Tips for Hiking Mont du Lac à l’Empêche at Sunrise or Sunset

When we hiked Mont du Lac-à-l’Empêche as an out and back trail, we hiked up in the dark so that we would arrive by sunrise to watch the golden light light up the valley. It was mid-October when we hiked this trail and it was started to get pretty cold. The trail gets very exposed at the summits so make sure you bring layers with you to stay warm.

If you are hiking at sunrise or sunset, make sure you have the following:

  • A headlamp for hiking in the dark.
  • Layers in case the weather turns. On this hike at sunset during Fall, we each had
  • Navigation device such as All Trails maps – The trail is pretty well marked but it is always good to have a back up, especially when you are hiking at night
  • Snacks for enjoying whilst watching the sunset and plenty of water.

🛌 Where to Stay Near Mont du Lac à l’Empêche

  • Maison Chez Laurent – this is where we stayed. It was a pretty basic motel but very clean and the staff, although could not speak English were super friendly.
  • Hôtel & Spa Le Germain Charlevoix – This place looks amazing and is about a 30 minute drive to the park!

🍔 Where to Eat Nearby

Baie-Saint-Paul is the closest town to the trail and has lots of great restaurants such as Le Saint-Pub Microbrasserie Charlevoix which has local bar bites and a cosy pub-like feel to it and also L’Orange Bistro which serves a varied French menu.

man eating in Baie-Saint-Paul Restaurant

👚 What We Wore and Packed for Mont du Lac à l’Empêche

Here is everything that we wore and packed to hike Mont du Lac à l’Empêche in early October during Fall. We hiked in the early morning in the dark to reach the lookout for sunrise and it was COLD.

Click here for a full list of what we bring with us on a day hike.


Other Hikes Nearby

Mont Du Dome

Distance: 8km loop | Elevation Gain: 467 metres | Time: 3 hoursDifficulty: Moderate

Couple sitting at viewpoint in Quebec looking out at the Fall Colors

Mont Du Dome was our favourite hike in Quebec to do during our Fall road trip. The views from the top were insane and so so colourful! If you have time for only one hike, I can recommend this one!

If you are planning a trip to Quebec, you might also enjoy:

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