I had to go to Sept-Îles recently for personal reasons. I mostly spent time there with my in-laws, but I was able to take advantage of this short trip to the Quebec’s North Shore to hike a trail that I’ve never hiked before, the Sentier à Jo (Jo’s Trail) along the Rivière des Rapides.
It is while I was browsing on the beautiful Les Sentiers de la Côte website that I learned of the existence of this trail (if you understand French, this site is a superb resource for those who want to hike on the Quebec’s North Shore). It always surprises me to realize that even though I lived for a few years in Sept-Îles, there are still so many places in the region that I do not know.
The start of the trail is on Chemin du Lac Daigle, near the bridge that crosses the Rivière des Rapides. It is possible to park near the water treatment plant of the city of Sept-Îles, a few metres further on Chemin du Lac Daigle.
The Sentier à Jo follows the course of the Rivière des Rapides, from Chemin du Lac Daigle to Lac des Rapides itself. Located about ten kilometres northwest of the urban center of Sept-Îles, Lac des Rapides is an important lake locally, because the city draws its drinking water from it. The Rivière des Rapides, for its part, covers about forty kilometres and ends its course in the bay of Sept-Îles.
At the very beginning of the trail, the river was quite peaceful, and I could see it here and there between the spruce trees. The trail wasn’t too difficult. Unfortunately, I wasn’t wearing good shoes for hiking (I forgot to put my hiking boots in my luggage before leaving for Sept-Îles), so I had to be more careful when walking on large roots or slippery rocks but otherwise I could still walk at a good pace.
What a pleasure to find myself in a real northern forest! I hadn’t realized how much I had missed the smell of spruce trees, the clear and large sky and the salty air. I definitely need to come back to the North Shore more often, because it is a magnificent and enormous territory, and it so different from southern Quebec.
After a few hundred metres on the trail, I started to hear the sound of rushing waters. I first saw them from a distance, then the trail took me very close to beautiful waterfalls.
After the waterfalls, the trail continued to follow the more tranquil course of the Rivière des Rapides. There were a few steeper sections, a few muddy sections, but otherwise the hike was pretty fun and not terribly difficult.
The last section of the trail makes a loop that first runs along Lac des Rapides. This loop seemed a little harder to follow than the rest of the trail. There were a few bushier sections, and some verry muddy sections. My white non-hiking shoes suffered a bit. Fortunately, the northern forest continued to be just as pretty.
The loop took me back to the main trail and I just had to retrace my steps to complete my hike. In all, I hiked 6.3 kilometres, with an elevation gain of 128 metres. The perfect hike to make me fall in love all over again with the North Shore!