If you live in Ottawa and you haven’t heard of the Eastern Townships of Quebec, you definitely need to check them out. Imagine the most beautiful farm country you’ve ever seen with the Appalachian mountain ranges in the distance. That is the Eastern Townships. Vickie, the voice behind Girl Gone Good and I decided to hit up the area for some gorgeous hiking views and some relaxation in nature last weekend and we had such a great experience.
Day 1 – Lavender Fields and Mountain Views
We ventured off on a Friday morning and took a scenic 4 hour drive along the border of Canada/U.S. to avoid the dreaded Montreal traffic. We quickly realized we were in Quebec when we stopped for a coffee at a Canadian road trip essential, Tim Hortons, and the menu was French. Love it!
Our first stop was Bleu Lavande, a lavender and eucalyptus farm in Stanstead, QC, that is such a great lunch spot. The minute you arrive you are instantly greeted by the glorious smell of lavender and the beauty of the sprawling fields of purple. We walked around the farm and each grabbed a tasty salad + sandwich combo, a lavender lemonade, and some lavender ice cream for dessert. Perfect lunch stop!
We continued on our way to the Coaticook county area where we had scoped out some amazing hiking views at Mont Pinacle. A little walk from where we parked at an old fire station and we hit the trail in anticipation of some pretty awesome views. We decided to take the #5 trail knowing it was a little more challenging so we could see the views of Petit Lac Baldwin…I’ll just leave the picture because no words could describe the untouched beauty of this view.
We continued down the rocky trail to the view we had anticipated of Lac Lyster and the beautiful mountains. To me the anticipation of a good view is like Christmas morning – I feel just as giddy as a child – I can’t help it. And this view certainly did not disappoint. We spent a good few moment taking in the views and appreciating the beauty of the area.
From Mont Pinacle we drove to the town of Coaticook to pick up some groceries and let me tell you, we were living the glamping lifestyle to it’s fullest and neither of us had any qualms about this. We are both accustomed to a roughing it style of camping and it was kind of refreshing and fun to try something different. This meant picking some tasty gourmet food to cook over the fire at our campsite.
The drive to our campsite was quite the adventure – let me tell you, we ended up on the Mont Hereford road which literally involved driving up a scary steep dirt road. What we didn’t realize was this was NOT the route to our campsite…we were literally driving up the hike we had planned for the next day. We soon realized our mistake but there was no turning around on this road, so we accepted it and Vickie drove up that mountain like a champ.
When we arrived at the top it was kind of one of those anti-climactic moments, one where we saw the view and were like “thank god we didn’t hike 12km up a steep mountain for this”. Don’t get me wrong, at sunset it was still quite beautiful, you could almost see the whole area in every direction, but not worth a long hike for it.
We laughed in disbelief on our drive back down but felt kind of grateful for our mistake because it meant we’d have more time on Day 2 to explore other areas. A short few more minutes down to the road and we arrived at Mont Hereford Experience, the campground where we had rented a glamping pod. We were very pleased when we arrived to find a site with a pod with a double bed, seating area, electric fireplace, mini fridge, and table as well as a BBQ and firepit on the site. Even the bathrooms were awesome – with working toilets, sinks, and warm showers. We were spoiled, but totally okay with it.
Day 2 – Waterfall Hike, Lookout Picnic, Coffee Mission, and Gorge de Coaticook
We woke up bright and early – 5AM club holla – got breakfast cooking on the BBQ – and ventured out for a short hike to a waterfall by our campsite. About 2km into the forest we found a serene waterfall coming down the rocks. Not the best time of year to see waterfalls – but we were still glad we made the trip to check it out. The sound of water trickling down rocks is honestly instant meditation to me.
From there we drove to Saint Malo, a cute little french Canadian farm town to check out the lookout tower and have a picnic. We stuck to the french theme with a baguette paired with some Boursin cheese and cured meat. From there we were in desperate need of some good coffee and were disappointed to find out that Coaticook’s coffee game was not strong. We ended up driving to Sherbrooke to check out a Quebec chain called Brûlerie Faro and boy were we glad we stumbled on this place. Our souls were awoken with a warm latte and we even took a cold one to go.
In better spirits thanks to a little caffeine we headed back to Coaticook to explore the Parc de la Gorge for a hike. We ventured up the Mountain Trail – a good leg workout for sure – but not much to see at the top. They had built a lookout which I’m sure would have been great if the trees surrounding it were just a wee bit shorter.
After the mountain trail we walked across the suspension bridge – a good adrenaline rush for me since heights aren’t my favourite thing – but I’m always glad when I challenge myself. The views of the gorge from the bridge were both scary and stunning.
After a tough hike, we headed into town to try out some local brews at the Microbrasserie de Coaticook and some ice cream at the famous Laiterie de Coaticook. I mean what’s a good hike if there isn’t a tasty reward at the end? We did dinner a little backwards and grabbed a little bite after ice cream, but we were on vacation, so who cares right!? We desperately needed a good shower, so we went back to camp to clean up before our exciting evening plans.
Back in town we parked centrally and took a shuttle back to the gorge for Foresta Lumina – an amazing lights show in the forest. About $20 each, but so worth it. It felt like something I had never experienced before. The forest turned into a magical landscape with incredible sounds and lights – felt like it was meant to be there. Honestly you just need to experience this show for yourself.
Day 3 – Brunch and post-hike rejuvenation
I feel like every hiking trip should end this way. We packed up camp and drove to Sherbrooke to enjoy the Strom Spa Nordique before our drive back to Ottawa. We grabbed brunch in town and went to the spa.
A beautiful spa – you’d never know the city was so close by. On the river – the thermal experience involved warm and cold pools, and dry + wet saunas. We both treated ourselves to a facial and a tasty lunch to relax and recuperate. Since phones were a no-no here, I’ll let you explore the beauty of this place from their website linked above. I would 10/10 recommend to wrap up any Eastern Townships trip.
Honestly, we are so lucky in Ottawa to have so many local getaways just a few hours drive away. Don’t get me wrong I love hopping on a plane and exploring far away places and can’t wait for more travel like that. There’s just something so special about hopping in the car, with the right company, and exploring our own backyard. I challenge you to do the same! I can promise, you won’t regret.
‘Til the next adventure,