While day trips to the park’s picnic grounds and beaches are common, the best way to see Le Parc National de la Mauricie is to explore the areas away from the one paved road by hiking the extensive network of trails. There are day hike trails ranging from the short (1.5 kilometer return) Lac-Etienne Trail starting at Lac-Eduoard to the longer (17 kilometer loop) Les Duex Criques Trail from the Riviere-a-la-Peche Service Centre. One of the shorter trails (3 kilometer return), Lac-Gabet Trail, goes through a stand of Sugar Maples. For the experienced backpacker, there is the Laurentien Trail. This 75 kilometer long back woods hike will take at least five days of serious walking, if you do not stop too often for the views or to swim in the inviting pools or water falls.
Looking at le carte de la Mauricie, or map of the park, one can see that these trails will take you through a varied landscape. With altitudes ranging from 100 meters to only 500 meters, there are no towering mountain peaks in the park. It is mainly rolling hills and deep valleys. It lies astride the boundary between the northern Boreal Forests and the southern Broad-leafed Hardwood Forests. Because of the extensive areas of logging and tree farming in the parks past, Le Park National de la Mauricie has a wide variety of trees, 30 species in almost 100 distinct plant communities. This combined with the large network of lakes and ponds, 150 by one count, ensures that there is always something new to find while exploring this park.
With these water features making up almost 7% of the park area, a popular alternative to hiking is canoeing. Whether you want to spend a leisurely day exploring one of the larger lakes, like Wapizagonke Lake, or try the more adventurous canoe-portage trips along a series of lakes, you will find that this provides a unique view of the flora, fauna and geography of Le Parc National de la Mauricie. Spectacular forests, waterfalls and water gardens can be seen from this perspective.
Quietly floating along the surface of one of the many lakes gives one a chance to see the wide variety of animals that call the park home. Moose, black bear and deer can be found drinking along the waters edge, along with a wide range of smaller mammals. Beaver, mink and otter are more likely to be seen in the water than on dry land. Birds abound, 180 different species have been sighted in the park with almost half being confirmed as nesting here. While on the lakes you are most likely to see loons, black ducks and ring-necked ducks. If you are fortunate you may spot one of the twelve species of raptors fishing for a daily meal.
If hiking or canoeing is too slow for you, there is an extensive network of mountain biking trails. There is the popular 30 kilometer park circuit. Or you can bike any of the old logging roads that cross the park. The authorities even allow mountain biking on four of the gravel paved hiking trails. Certainly this is a faster way to explore the park, just remember to stop periodically to enjoy the view.
Le Parc National de la Mauricie, or the la Mauricie National Park, has something for everyone, in any language. Easily accessible, the park gives nearby city dwellers a multitude of chances to explore Mother Nature.