After a tough winter, nothing beats the feeling of breaking out your running shoes and finally hitting the trails around Quebec City. While the Old Port is a scenic place for urban running, there are many wooded trails within reach of the city – you just need to know where to find them. To get you started, here are some trails around Quebec City that you and your running buddies of all levels can enjoy.
Parc de la rivière L’Ancienne-Lorette
This vast urban forest is the largest of its kind in the region, and is a good place to start for anyone kicking off their running regimen. The park, as its name suggests, is crossed by the Lorette River, and is home to a network of trails of varying lengths.
The shortest loop, Trail 1, is just under 1km long. Trail 2 (1.5km loop), 3 (2.1km loop) and 4 (3.5km loop) will take you through a mixed forest along the river. If you’re after a good photo opportunity, Trail 2 also has a viewpoint that overlooks the river, where you can get a sense of the park’s impressive size within the city.
Mont Sainte-Anne is a popular place for skiing and mountain biking, but it’s also loaded with trails for hiking and running. If you’re looking to get in shape or get your running legs back, you can check out La Pichard, an easy 4km trail that you can access from the base of the mountain.
For runners up for a bit more of a challenge, there’s the 12-km Mestachibo trail at the base of the mountain; it follows the Sainte-Anne-du-Nord River most of the way to the Saint-Férréol-les-Neiges church. The terrain can be a bit rough, so wear a pair of trail running shoes with grippy soles.
If you’d prefer to stay on the mountain, there’s also La Libériste, a steeper 9km trail that goes right to the summit. The last part of the climb takes place on a ski run, so you’re totally exposed – don’t forget a hat and sunscreen on those sunny days.
If you’ve got some experience trail running and are looking for moderate-to-difficult routes, then head to Mont Wright. The mountain offers both short and long trails of varying inclines, so it’s a good spot for some hill workouts. If you want a proper climb, attempt Sentier du Sommet, a 1.2km linear route that takes you to the top of the 483m mountain.
The trees lining Sentier de la Forêt Ancienne (or the “Old Forest Trail”) are nearly 300 years old, and the park has been deemed a conservation site, so be sure to stick to marked trails – which is a good rule of thumb for all running trails across the country.
Parc National de la Jacques-Cartier
Let’s not forget Quebec City’s biggest network of trails in Parc National de la Jacques-Cartier. The park is home to over 100km of hiking trails that give you a big variety of terrain and landscapes to explore by foot. Beginner runners can start off on La Tourbière, a quick and easy 2.9km loop that starts at the third kilometre of the Chemin du Parc-National. This trail is also dog friendly, as part of a pilot project taken on by the city, so take your favourite four-legged running buddy with you.
If you’re looking for a truly glute-busting, lung-burning workout, head out to Les Loups, an 11km in-and-out with a 447m difference in elevation. From the top, the view of the Laurentian Massif and the beautiful valleys of the Jacques-Cartier and the Sautauriski are a great payoff for the hard effort.
The historical Plaines d’Abraham is home to some awesome festivals and celebrations, but also has some nice paths for walking and running. Though it’s right in the city, Sentier des Plaines d’Abraham is tucked away from all roads, which makes this an easy year-round option for city-dwellers who want to get a quick trail run in. There’s also a designated jogging path, located right at Grande-Allée Ouest and Avenue Wolfe-Montcalm.
Quebec City trail running map
No matter where to decide to trail run around Quebec City, make sure you’ve got all the gear you’ll need. If you’re just getting started with trail running or are looking for new friends to explore these routes with, check out MEC run crews and the race series. They’re a great way to meet like-minded people who also want to get outside.
Photo credits: Shutterstock / onixxino, Shutterstock / Sara Borbala Balogh, Flickr / Samuel Bouchard, Shutterstock / ninikas, Flickr / Guilhem Vellut