Experience forest bathing

Location: Forillon National Park, Quebec
Options for a day trip, overnight stay, or weekend getaway.

Humans have always sought peace within calm wilderness. The notion of ‘shrinrin yoku’, the practice of ‘bathing’ in the forest amongst the trees, emerged in Japan in the 1950s. Forillon National Park, situated at the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula, has so many forest bathing choices.

Two young adults at the top of the observation tower of Mont-St-Alban, 283 meters above sea level, looking at the landscape of sea, forest and cliffs, in Forillon National Park.

If you’re a day tripper

Begin with experiencing the Mont-Saint-Alban area in Forillon National Park, which first envelops you within its forest cover, and then surprises with grand land and seascapes, climaxed by a 285-metre-high lookout tower with 360-degree vistas of the ocean, forests and the cliffs of Land’s End. There are three routes by which to reach the tower, ranging from 3.6km to 7.8km return. Whether you leave from Petit-Gaspé beach, Cap-Bon-Ami, or Grande-Grave, you will be blown away by the impressive views. Binoculars are a must in hopes of spotting Blue, fin, minke and humpback whales.

Two young adults are hiking with their dog on a leash in the forest of Forillon National Park.

If you’re an overnighter

Day 1: Enroute to Forillon, enjoy the ever-changing light of nearby Percé Rock (93 km preceding Forillon), a massive sheer rock rising out of Percé Bay that is central to the UNESCO Global Geopark of Percé.

Upon arrival at the park, embark on the La Taïga trail (4.8 km return) in Penouille, the park’s only white sandy beach. The trail is a journey through space and time. The Penouille sand spit supports a taiga whose presence at such low latitudes is quite unusual. A selection of camping and roofed accommodations are available in the Town of Gaspé.

Day 2: Day two begins with a visit to La Chute (1 km loop), situated just off Route 132. This trail leads you into a valley, the atmosphere which wraps you in large, mature maple and cedar trees. In a sense, you plunge into the forest, with the sound of flowing water gradually intensifying until you reach your reward, a 17-metre waterfall.

Drive 18.4 km to L’Anse-au-Griffon, where there are two trail experiences, Le Portage (20 km return) or La Vallée (9.2 km return). Le Portage passes through forests and waterways including the L’Anse-au-Griffon River. La Vallée is the hottest place in the park, having its own micro-climate, where you’ll encounter yellow birch, a stand of cedars, and maple trees. The red and sugar maples, combined with birches, produce a kaleidoscope of red and orange leaves.

Visitors walking in a flowery field along Gaspé Bay in Forillon National Park.

If you’re a weekender

Day 1: Day one begins by first visiting Percé, and then settling in at Forillon National Park to explore the La Taïga trail and enjoy Penouille’s sandy beach.

Day 2: Day two includes forest bathing excursions to La Chute and your choice of Le Portage or La Vallée trails.

Day 3: Don’t miss the Les Graves Trail which leads you through boreal forests and flowery fields towards pebbled beaches and offers incredible panoramas of secret coves and the sea. Set out on the trail from either Grande-Grave (15.2 km return) to add a cultural experience to your hike, the trailhead at L’Anse-aux- Amérindiens (6.4 km gravel road return), or the alternative L’Anse-aux-Amérindiens trail (8 km return). The overall objective is to arrive at Cap-Gaspé, the tip of a limestone headland where the cliffs fall dramatically, nearly 213 meters into the sea. Complete your Les Graves experience by following the trail down to the bottom of the cliff until reaching the final tip of Land’s End, where you’ll quickly feel a sense of peace and Zen.

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