1. Sainte-Anne Canyon, Beaupré
A 30-minute drive east of Quebec City, this natural wonder includes a 74-metre-tall waterfall (hey, that’s higher than Niagara Falls!) cascading over billion-year-old rock, plus three bridges at different heights that span the gorge and roaring river. You’ll be able to check out incredible views of the river and forest, while interpretive displays along the 1.5 kilometres of trails will help you and your kids learn about the geology and history of the area. But what they might find more interesting is the Stone Stories Scavenger Hunt (0.6 kilometres), which combines puzzles, hide-and-seek and magical stories with a short wooded trail. Make a day of it: There are several picnic areas and a playground.
Go hiking: 206, Route 138 East, Beaupré 418-827-4057 Adults: $13; kids 6–12: $7; kids under 6: free canyonsa.qc.ca>
2. Grand-Duc Trail, Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville
Mont-Saint-Bruno National Park is a natural beauty, with five easy hiking trails (and one intermediate trail) that range from 1.5 to 8.8 kilometres. The 3.5-kilometre Grand-Duc Trail (which is suitable for sports strollers) starts at the Discovery and Visitors Centre, which also offers parking, indoor washrooms and information about the park. It winds through a hardwood forest that’s home to 200 species of birds and 40 species of mammals. If your kids are having trouble getting through the hike, entice them with pastries, homemade lemonade or gelato (and coffee and tea for the grown-ups!) at Le Vieux Moulin restaurant, a picturesque 250-year-old former mill. (It also has a microwave oven for heating up baby’s meals.)
Go hiking: Mont-Saint-Bruno National Park 330, rang des 25 Est, Saint-Bruno 450-653-7544 Adults: $8.50; kids 17 and under: free sepaq.com/pq/msb>
3. Vallée Bras-du-Nord, Saint-Raymond
This is a one-stop shop for outdoor recreation. Vallée Bras-du-Nord boasts 70 kilometres of groomed and marked trails for hiking, biking, canoeing and horseback riding. A family favourite is the moderate Bras-du-Nord, a seven-kilometre loop trail that starts at the Shannahan Welcome Centre and follows the contours of the Bras-du-Nord River. Along the way, you’ll cross an awesome narrow and long suspension bridge (thrills for the kids!), view the 150-metre-high Delaney Falls (which has a picnic area) and—random alert—check out a “spoon tree” that other hikers have attached spoons to.
Go hiking: Vallée Bras-du-Nord, Hwy 367, Saint-Raymond 418-337-3635 Adults: $6.96; kids 7–15: $4.35; kids under 6: free valleebrasdunord.com>
4. Pioneer Trail, Beaupré
Famous as a ski resort, Mont-Sainte-Anne has plenty to do without snow, too. The six-kilometre round-trip Pioneer Trail, though rated “easy,” is best for older kids because of the steep climbs. Along the way, the kids can test their skills on several obstacle courses. The view from the chalet at the summit is spectacular, and there’s an observation tower that offers a 360-degree view of the wooded hills. And, hey, you can always book a gondola ride to get back down!
Go hiking: 2000 Boulevard du Beau Pré 1-888-827-4579 Adults: $7.83; kids 7–17: $6.09; kids under 6: free mont-sainte-anne.com>
5. Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area, Saint-Joachim
Cap Tourmente, 50 kilometres northwest of Quebec, is where the St. Lawrence River meets the large coastal marshes, mountains and plains. To bring the area’s rich natural diversity and human history to life for kids, download the BioKit and rent a GPS unit at the Interpretation Centre. Then, pretend you are shipwrecked survivors and start a “choose your own adventure” kind of scavenger hunt: Tasty Trek (about 45 minutes) lets you look for plants and animals that the first settlers used for food and medicine, while The Wonders of Cap Tourmente (1¼ to three hours) allows you to explore the natural landscape, with lots of kid-friendly trivia along the way (available May to October).
Go hiking: 570 chemin du Cap-Tourmente, Saint-Joachim 418-827-4591 ec.gc.ca>
6. La Prucheraie, Granby
Tucked away in the Eastern Townships, the Lac Boivin conservation area has more than 400 hectares of wetland wilderness and is a fantastic place for your nature lovers to see birds and small wildlife. Start at the interpretive centre and take this wide, gentle 1.4-kilometre loop that’s suitable for sports strollers. Meander through the trees and climb a 10-metre observation tower to get a bird’s-eye view of the marsh below. Tip: Chickadees and nuthatches will often eat out of visitors’ hands, so be sure to pick up some birdseed (available for a small fee at the interpretive centre).
Go hiking: Centre d'interprétation de la nature du lac Boivin 700 rue Drummond, Granby 450-375-3861 easterntownships.org>
7. Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site, Quebec City
Tell the kids you’re going to walk on the walls! More than four kilometres of defensive walls were built around the city between 1608 and 1871 and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site today. Your family can take a free self-guided tour, meet up with an expert guide for a 90-minute walking tour or check out one of the interactive activities, like The Legend of the Walls that Talk (costumes, games and a search for an enchanted bracelet or sword) or Mission Fortifications (working together to defend the colony).
Go hiking: 2 rue D’Auteuil, Quebec City 418-648-7016 Family entry: $9.80; entry plus guided tour: $19.60 pc.gc.ca>