La Vallée and Le Portage are hidden gems inside Forillon National Park, cutting between the spine of the Appalachian Mountains and connecting L’Anse-au-Griffon in the north with Penouille in the south. A 9.2 km loop makes for a serene and beautiful nature hike, horse-riding tour, cycle ride, or jogging trail.
The La Vallée and Le Portage Trail
L’Anse-au-Griffon river winds lazily down the valley, separating the trail into two. One half of the trail loop is mostly clear and flat, while the other loop is more hilly, and runs through a forest. In the middle is a stretch of grassland.
The valley contains the remains of part of L’Anse-au-Griffon village. The villagers took advantage of the fertile and wooded area to run sawmills and farms in service of the coastal areas, where fishing predominated. The farms and businesses here were appropriated during the establishment of Forillon National Park. Although no farms or buildings remain on that land today, many apple and lilac trees, residues of the original farm gardens, can be seen growing wild.
The trail is very well maintained by Parks Canada, and has two shelters, and some picnic benches, so you can spend an hour or two exploring, and then rest in peaceful surroundings.
Wildlife in La Vallée and Le Portage Trail
It is very easy to see wildlife here – regularly while jogging I see moose, bears, porcupines, hares, and foxes. More rarely I have seen skunks, coyote, and deer, although those are more shy.
The moose are most likely to be seen early in the morning or at twilight, or on a day of mist or light rain. Porcupines can be spotted on the trail edges at any time. They move slowly and aren’t afraid of anything, so you’ll have plenty of time to take pictures. Bears may be spotted at any time in the day and tend to be in the ditches or hedges, where they find berries and twigs to eat. Sometimes you can spot them in trees. Hares and foxes are common but wary and you will probably just see them bolting away from you.
Be respectful and careful around wildlife – here’s some good advice on how to avoid a bear encounter. But don’t be afraid – it’s an amazing experience to see these animals in their natural environment.
In the winter, these trails are groomed for cross-country skiing by local volunteers.
You can read more about La Vallée, and other Forillon National Park hiking trails, on Parks Canada’s website here.