Jean-Larose Waterfalls With a Dog – Mont-Sainte Anne, Quebec
At the foot of Mount-Sainte-Anne near Quebec City you will find a well-kept little secret.
I am going to share this secret with you: The Jean-Larose Waterfalls.
69 meters in height (224 feet) they have dug their way in the hard rock in a fantastically curved and ornate path and end with a thundering splash in a massive basin at the bottom.
To access these falls is a little tricky to describe but I will do my best! (There are no roadside signs indicating the location of the falls!)
Drive on the 360 route until you see the Mont-Saint Anne ski resort on your left, keep going and drive over a small bridge. Shortly thereafter, you’ll see a golf course with a large parking lot on your right. Enter and park. A sign informs you that you should go pay $5 for parking at the golf course. There are no attendants (that we could see) and honestly, we didn’t. We leave it up to you to decide what you want to do.
Once you get out of your car, turn your back to the golf course (yes… I know to some of you this is sacrilegious) and you will see a field. On the other side of the field is a wooded area. That is the forest and the trail starts there. You will find tiny little navy blue signs that say “Les Chutes” with an arrow. Make your way towards them!
Note: There is a small parking lot on the edge of the road just before the golf course – it was full when we went but if you are lucky you can park there. Turn right towards the woods.
Once on the trail you will arrive at a map of all the trails in the Mount-Sainte-Anne area on a small billboard with that little star that says “You are Here!” You are given two options: left or straight (right of the billboard). Go straight continuing to follow the “Les Chutes” sign.
You will find yourself on a well-kept, Trans Canada Trail. The very first outlook post (looks like a little wood balcony on your right) is where you will find a tiny little path – reminding me a great deal of goat paths in fact. Take it all the way down to the water. Trust me it is worth it, but be careful not to slip if it is muddy!
This is where you will find the large flat stones and amazing “moss- covered rock and tree root formations” that make you feel like you’ve travelled to another part of the world! This is all natural and although you would not be blamed for thinking so, no human has ever carved or chiselled any of the stones.
The spring comes out of the ground here and the force of it creates many deep basins where the water twists and twirls creating natural whirl pools. Perfect on a hot summer day these pools will massage away your aches and pains and cool you down. Do note that for many the water is far too cold for anything other than dipping toes and feet.
Although the waterfalls beckon, do sit and stay a while and unwind in the sun-speckled natural beauty. You can feel yourself relaxing. Don’t be surprised to find people there meditating, or just enjoying the silence. Screaming or loud children are frowned upon, so are barking dogs. There is a natural sense of tranquility being preserved by visitors. We saw one lady doing yoga with her two dogs by her side and lovers having their photos taken was also very common.
Follow the direction the water is flowing to a tiny little wooden ladder. This returns you to the main trail above; follow the path to the end where a massive lookout allows you to see the top of the falls and watch the water go over the edge and drop!
On your left are stairs, 400 of them to be precise, that will take you all the way down (and back up). Now, don’t worry, there are 2 stops along the way. These lookouts offer wonderful photo opportunities and a chance to catch your breath, drink some water (bring some with you) and just take in the spectacular scenery all around. I can only imagine how amazing this must be in the fall when all the trees have turned shades of golden yellow and bright red!
I was carried down the steps since they are very very steep. Once at the bottom, I was let out of my sling, off-leash, where we walked around the basin, took some photos, got cooled off in the mist that hangs in the air and where I met new canine friends!
We then made our way back up to where my grandma was waiting. At the age of 73 and not particularly active beyond gardening, she felt that 400 stairs was perhaps a bit much for her. The bipeds did well, although Mom was surprised at how out of breath she was once she made it back to the top and informed us that her legs felt like jelly. I think Dad felt the same but was being quiet about it in order to preserve his image of health and fitness nut.
I had no trouble bounding all the way up. Yes, I did all 400 steps! Even if each step was about my height apart! We do suggest you keep your dog on a leash (although I was not) since the steps have no back risers between them and are, in some places, open to a long way down if a tiny dog should miscalculate. The bipeds thought of this after the fact.
If we had been on our own (without grandma), once at the bottom of the steps in the waterfalls basin, we would have continued our way on a trail called Mestachibo.
Mestachibo is a 12 kilometer trek to the Church of Saint-Férréol-les-Neiges. It follows the river Sainte-Anne for almost its entirety and gives way to some of the most picturesque vistas the area has to offer. Mature forest, Tuyas pine trees and wild flowers galore! On this trail you will have to use two hanging bridges – 70 meters (230 feet) each – and two amazing lookout areas complete with benches, and other amenities (called belvédères aménagés). This trail is a relatively new addition and opened in 2002.
In review: It’s hard to describe the beauty of the area. This is a good example of “pictures speak louder than words.” The word spectacular just does not do the landscape justice.
If you (and your canine companion) are physically fit enough to manage the 400 steps, we highly recommend this excursion. We saw young children, older folks and many dogs in a variety of sizes enjoy this gorgeous setting. It really is up to you to know what you can manage. We saw a determined and smiling pregnant lady going down the steps holding on to the railings. At the basin (bottom) we saw two seniors enjoying a picnic under a pine tree and in the big open flat rock next to the falls a bunch of kids were having a birthday party (we arrived just in time for the cupcakes and songs!).
Go ahead and enjoy this magnificent, dog-friendly spot. We highly recommend it. Just remember: safety first! Don’t forget your water, snacks and camera, and always be prepared to take your garbage (including dog poop and bags) with you.