Access to trails and daytime use is limited in some Quebec parks
May 23, 2021 –
Adirondack Park isn’t the only place where limits have had to be placed on the number of pandemic-tired hikers who can use the trails on weekends.
In Quebec, park agencies have also started requiring people to book in advance and pre-pay online before heading out on the trail, or even to enjoy a barbecue or a day at the beach.
Sépaq (Société des establishments de plein air du Québec) is the agency that manages all parks and wildlife reserves under the jurisdiction of the Government of Quebec. In spring 2020, Sépaq began requiring visitors who visit its facilities all day to prepay online as a pandemic measure in order to minimize contact between visitors and employees. Upon arrival at the parks, visitors must show proof of payment on their phone or on paper.
As a pandemic measure, but also to control overcrowding in the parks, Sépaq has also limited the number of day visitors admitted to its parks each day. Oka and Mont St-Bruno parks near Montreal are particularly popular and can get crowded quickly on weekends. Oka, near the meeting point of the Ottawa River and the St. Lawrence, has the longest freshwater beach in Quebec, popular picnic areas and bike paths. Mont St-Bruno, as its name suggests, offers mountain hikes, biking, small lakes and historic sites in the heart of nature just a 30-minute drive from downtown Montreal. The day-use areas regularly fill up quickly in the two parks.
Many natural parks and trails, particularly in the Laurentians north of Montreal, are not managed by Sépaq but by regional county governments and cities. Some state parks allow day visitors to prepay and reserve in advance online to ensure they can hike once they arrive. Most regional parks in the Laurentians are at least an hour’s drive north of Montreal.
On Mother’s Day Sunday earlier in May, Sépaq’s Mont St-Bruno park reached its limit for accepting day visitors by online payment on Saturday evening. The Val-David / Val-Morin regional park in the Laurentians still accepted online prepayment on Saturday nights, but also allowed hikers and climbers to try their luck and try to enter the park simply by doing the ride and showing at the top.
Other parks have been less restrictive in controlling access. The Doncaster River Park in St-Adèle is managed by the city. He stressed that he was open to everyone. If visitors can find a parking space, they can walk through the gate, pay cash to enter, and enjoy the trails and waterfalls.