A must-see in the Eastern Township region is Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook. The hiking trail (which bears the same name) is a 3.5km round trip with exciting adventures along the way and wonderful views of the area. During the hike, you will encounter the longest suspended bridge in North America, an observation tower, a cave, a dam and a hydroelectric power plant. During the night, the trail is open for Foresta Lumina (illuminated lights inside the forest). This post is about our hike during the day, not part of that experience.
About the park:
The bridge which was built in 1988, has a height of 50 meters above the canyon. The canyon of Coaticook river was created by a melting glacier about 15,000 years ago.
Address: 135 Michaud Street, Coaticook, J1A 1A9, QC (Denis Maurais reception)
Region: Eastern Townships
Drive: 2h south east from downtown Montreal
Opening time: Summer schedule (2019) – from mid May to Mid October (check website for more accurate dates and hours).
Entry fees: Adult (16+) $8, 1st kids (6-15) $4.75, second kid $2.50, kids under 5 go free.
Please note that the Foresta Lumina experience has different entry fees and operating hours.
Parking: Free street parking next to the main reception (Denis Maurais)
Restaurant: Yes, at the park’s entrance. An ice cream shop is just nearby.
Less suitable for a baby-stroller, please consider lots of stairs along the trail.
Entry to the main reception on the left side of the building. On the right side, you will find the tourism office of Coaticook area with very friendly staff members.
The restaurant Coffret de l’imagination is located in front of the main reception.
Pay the park fees at the reception desk and start the hike. Here is a map of the trail Sentier de la Gorge. It is a bit tricky to follow the indication signs on-site as they all mention “trail”. You can follow the indication on this blog.
Hiking trail info:
Once you leave the reception building, you will see the playground. Pass the playground and continue to the right. Lots of Foresta Lumina installations are hanging from above, these would be illuminated during the night.
The first viewpoint is facing the hydroelectric station across the river. Go down the steps to reach the riverbed. The last part of the trail will pass by this station. There is another viewpoint to the left of the staircase.
The trail will then continue uphill with many steps to climb and then a dirt path towards the suspended footbridge.
The gorgeous view from the bridge with the Coaticook River:
Once on the other side of the gorge, the path curves to the right. At the first junction (the indication signs are a bit confusing) – follow the cave symbol on the indication signs. Continue uphill to the left and try to walk as close as possible to the riverside. Then, you will reach a staircase to go down towards the cave.
This short handmade cave (24m long) was built in 1923 with the purpose to lead water to the power plant.
The trail will continue on a wooden bridge towards the dam.
Once at the dam’s observation point, continue the climb uphill towards the Couillard Tower. There is a small junction at some point, continue to the right and uphill. This tower, at 29m, has 120 steps to a great viewpoint of Coaticook area.
After the tower, follow the hydroelectric symbol on the indication sign. The trail will go downhill, first crossing a road. The hike continues towards the first junction, heading downhill to the Marmite (Cauldron), then going under the bridge and reaching close to the riverbed.
You can walk inside the noisy hydroelectric plant:
The last point of the Sentier de la Gorge Trail is a small wooden bridge (at this junction turn left). Other directions lead to the camping area and another trail, Sentier de la Montagne.
Other great spots to stop by in the area are the famous ice cream factory and a microbrasserie, both with the unique name of “Coaticook”. These are located 4 minutes drive from the park.
At the ice cream shop, there was a huge queue for a reason – super tasty and tons of favours to choose from.
Address: 1000 Rue Child, Coaticook, J1A 2S5, QC
Microbrasserie Coaticook shop
Address: 1007 Rue Child, Coaticook, J1A 2S5, QC