It’s funny how small out world can get out. Being ‘home’ meant regaining the daily habit and routines that have always been. Staying close to the city centre. It took years of traveling abroad before realizing that there was still so much to explore right here at home. So soooo much that we were never aware of. One of those areas, for myself, was the Eastern Townships. Who knew that we had gorgeous mountains on this side of the border?! Or vast hiking trails. Or outdoor light shows that make you believe in magic again.
One place to explore before the snow falls is Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook and it’s surroundings like Mt Gosford, Mt Hereford and Mt Pinnacle. Can you imagine the fall colours from the top of lookouts, mountain peaks that have views for days, and the leaves rustling during a Foresta Lumina show?
The Low Down
- Address: 135 rue Michaud, Coaticook, Quebec.
- Cell Reception: Yes.
- Trail Distance: 16kms of trails, varied lengths.
- Elevation Gain: Mild, rolling elevation.
- Duration: 30mins to 2 hrs dependent on the trail taken.
- Dogs: Yes, on leash only.
- Crowds: Light traffic on Montagne, heavy traffic on Gorge.
- Washrooms: Onsite at reception.
- Entrance Fee: 8$ day rate (free if staying onsite)
- Season: Open year round.
- More Information: Visit the Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook for more information and trail map. Visit Foresta Lumina to purchase tickets online.
In Good Company
Originally I discovered the Eastern Townships with family during a weekend getaway. We ventured to Bleu Lavande, Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook, and Foresta Lumina. Next was another long weekend with one of most wonderful and adventurous couples I know to hike up Mt Gosford (which did not disappoint). Finally, lately, was another getaway with Rosalyn Glass from Capital City Explorer. We’re both ‘bloggers’ for lack of better description, and adventurers at heart. She wrote up a detailed post about our weekend adventures if you’re curious about how the whole weekend went!
What to bring
- Hiking boots: Although the trails are well maintained, it’s beneficial to wear hiking boots in the spring and fall for stability over mud and roots.
- Snacks: The Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook trails can be longer than expected, especially if you accidentally take a wrong turn. Advisable to bring water (as always) and a snack .
Parking is something that the Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook has right. There’s a decent enough parking lot for day use, but even better yet, there’s a free shuttle bus for Foresta Lumina ticket holders in the evenings. The shuttle bus location is well marked in a parking lot between rue de menage and route 147. As a point of reference, it is locate across the Giant Tiger.
There was a Foresta Lumina employee, on stilts and in costume, on site to explain the shuttle service and make sure everyone got a lift. The shuttle arrives frequently (every 15mins ish) and continues well past the last time slot for the show for the return. The ride takes less than 10mins and there’s a guide that explains what to expect upon arrival.
It is highly recommended to use the shuttle service instead of driving down yourself as there is limited parking, the streets are tight, and there is an abundance of people walking around.
The park offers 16kms worth of trails to explore, the ‘montagne’ trail is approximately 4kms. Along the trail you’ll find rivers, waterfalls, and an observation tower. It’s a well maintained trail, wide in sections, and marked ok. I would bring a trail map with you, it’s easy to take the wrong route. The best part is the varied terrain and scenery along the path. There is an observation tower to hike up, which in the summer was an alright view but it’s likely best in the fall.
The full gorge trail is 3.5kms, well marked and packed dirt path. The traffic tends to be heavier on this trail since it is shorter, more accessible, and boosts North American’s longest suspension foot bridge.
If you hike the full trail you’ll hit the bridge, caves, and observation tower. Oh, and mountain bikers since sections of the trails are shared with them.
In the darkness, an orchestra of music was playing with strong base like sounds. Rhythmic. Attention grabbing. Oddly comforting. The kind of music that you could feel. Tall majestic trees occupied either side of the trail and on them were vertically placed lights that seemingly danced to the music. The branches and leaves rustled with the wind. And if you looked straight up, you would see a night sky littered with stars.
With all the people streaming through the trail, you could still stop here and feel like the only one there. Time appeared stopped, yet the music played.
This, this was part of the magic that Foresta Lumina provides in the Parc de la gorge de Coaticook.
The trail itself is packed dirt, lit where needed, but it is a hiking trail so caution is required to avoid tripping at night. The entire walk through the show is 2.6kms and ends at the reception building (washrooms on site) prior to exiting.
This is not a trail for baby strollers. Actually, I can’t even honestly say I’d recommend this experience for younger kids since the story tells the tale of the heroine and demons. I brought my niece when she was 6 years old and it was a bit too much (read scary) for her. Since then. though, I’ve noticed that the experience has become more interactive for kids so perhaps the young ones could handle it. I dunno. Up to you!
Nourish Thy Self
Fooooooood truck! This was new from last time I attended Foresta Lumina. A food truck right at the entrance (smart move) for you to enjoy as you. wait to entire. There’s the normal fair, along with poutine…of course. #canadianAF
Wrapping it up
Another hiking guide for the books. We’ll still have to return at some point an finish the 8.5km Tillotson trail. Although really, that’s just an excuse to return to the area. 😉