• Patrice Gagnon

Plaisance National Park Guide (Most Beautiful Places to See)

Plaisance National Park is a wonderful underrated provincial national park in the province of Quebec. It is one of the smallest national parks in Quebec but packs quite the punch. It has tons of beautiful trails and a gorgeous waterfall close to the park you can kayak or canoe to. It is also known as having a very diverse and large biodiversity, especially birds.


In this guide, I will focus on the most beautiful places and things to see in Plaisance National park, from the trails, to the viewpoints, and the wildlife. I will also recommend the most beautiful places to stay and give you my own account of the national park.


Best Trails in Plaisance National Park:

The Zizanie-des-Marais

The Zizanie-des-Marais
Cephas, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Zizanie-des-Marais is a beautiful trail with a floating boardwalk that takes you over a swamp deep into the forest. The trail has a gorgeous backdrop perfect for photography. It is also a prime spot for wildlife especially birds and swamp fauna. It is a very short trail but is worth spending the time on location to try and see some animals.

Serpentine Trail

Serpentine Trail, Plaisance National Park
Picture I took on a beach next to the Serpentine Trail

The Serpentine Trail is also a great trail for walking through the park. It takes you to the very edge of the park’s island where you’ll have a beautiful view of the river splitting apart around the island, a great place to spend during a sunset. This trail is a bit longer than the first mentioned trail with an 8 kilometer in-and-out total length. I fully recommend coming here later in the day because there are some fireflies on the trail that will start glowing in low light. It is truly a spectacle to witness.

Park Loop


Of course, if you want to see absolutely everything about this beautiful park, then I fully recommend the 16-kilometer trail. It includes both the above trails plus a ton of extra spots you might otherwise overlook. It can easily be done in a day (very easy) and I recommend staying in one of the camping spots after the trail for a relaxing night under the stars.



Best Viewpoints in Plaisance National Park:

Suspended Bridge on the Suspended Bridge Trail

The suspended bridge is part of the Suspended Bridge Trail in Plaisance National Park which is a very short trail. However, when visiting the park, you won’t want to miss this cute little spot. The bridge provides the perfect backdrop for your photos and has some nice views of the river.

Sarcelle Swamp

Sarcelle Swamp, Plaisance National Park
Sarcelle Swamp by Jamie McCaffrey via Flickr

The Sarcelle Swamp is part of the Zizanie-des-Marais trail. It is a prime spot for wildlife photography. Many animals come to the marsh for food and birds can be seen chirping overhead. There are some unique species of ducks that frequent the swamp as well. It is basically the avengers assemble moment for the wildlife of the park. If you’re patient, lucky, and come here in the early morning or late evening, you should be able to see all kinds of different animal species.

Plaisance Waterfall

Plaisance Waterfall, Plaisance National Park
Photograph I took of Plaisance Waterfall

While Plaisance Waterfall is not actually part of the park grounds (it belongs to the municipality), Plaisance National Park offers canoe and kayak rentals which you can use to go to the waterfall from the park. It is quite the expedition and also quite challenging when going against current but a day to remember once you’ve reached your goal. The waterfall itself is incredible, it has a 63-metre vertical drop and scenic lookout with a few different observation points. You’ll be impressed by the magnitude of this natural beast. Make sure to bring your tripod if you want to take a few long exposure photographs of the waterfall to get some really good shots for your portfolio.

Farm Fields at the Edge of the Park

Farm Fields, Plaisance
Photograph I took of the Fields Near Plaisance National Park

This is an often-overlooked part of the park but something I was happily surprised by. When on the Serpentine Trail towards the edge of the park, you can find some abandoned fields right outside of the park grounds. In July, the fields are home to beautiful wildflowers and long stretches of satisfying landscapes. A great spot for landscape photographers but also fashion photographers; bring your best wardrobe and go all out in a photoshoot among the abandoned and Instagrammable fields with no one else around to make you feel embarrassed.


Wildlife Viewing in Plaisance National Park:


One of the best things about Plaisance National Park is its fauna. There are hundreds of species of different animals here which is way too much to go over in a single article. However, some of the most popular animals to spot in the park are:


Beavers

Beaver, Plaisance National Park
Beaver by Tim Umphreys via Flickr

Beavers are mostly active at night. However, they can be seen early in the morning or late in the evening about an hour after the sun rises or an hour before. In Plaisance National Park, your best bet to see beavers would be in the Marshlands. Plaisance is known to have the biggest beaver colony in Quebec.


Turtles

Snapping Turtle, Plaisance National Park
Snapping Turtle by Katie Bernotsky via Unsplash

The emblem of the park is the common snapping turtle. It can be found in the marshlands and is usually most active between 9pm to 4am. Your best bet to see snapping turtles (and to be able to photograph them) would be in the evening before sunset.


Other turtles that can be seen in the park, although rarer, are the painted and map turtles.


Fireflies

Fireflies, Plaisance National Park
Fireflies by Mike Lewinski via Unsplash

During the mating process, fireflies’ glow in unison which can be observed with the naked eye as they swarm around each other. This creates quite the spectacle for the casual observer. Seeing them for yourself is truly a memorable moment that will throw you into a Hollywood movie moment. This mating process lasts from late May to early June and can be seen all throughout the park. Go for a walk in the evening as the sun sets and you should be able to see the magic for yourself.


Birds

Bird, Plaisance National Park
Bird in Plaisance National Park by Jamie McCaffrey via Flickr

There are over 250 different species of birds in the park. You cannot talk about Plaisance National Park wildlife without mentioning the birds. The most common bird is the Canadian Goose, but you’ll definitely see dozens more each day you’re in the park. I would recommend hitting up the Marshlands where many different species of birds like to hang around for the humid climate and abundance of food.


Other Animals

Animal, Plaisance National Park
Saw this little guy roaming in the grass on the Serpentine Trail

There is no shortage of animals in Plaisance Park but some of them are a bit shyer and challenging to spot. You’ll most likely see one or two of these during your journey to the park, but anything is possible, they include: white-tailed deer, muskrat, woodchuck, eastern chipmunk, red squirrel, raccoon, coyotes, red foxes, black bears, moose, otters, and mink.


Best Camping Spots in Plaisance National Park:

There are many different camping spots in Plaisance National Park. You can rent a square and bring your tent or get a ready-made Yurt and even upgrade with your own fully-furnished farmhouse. Over the next couple paragraphs, I'll quickly go over which camping spots are my personal choice for beauty and comfort.


The best camping grounds for each type of stay are:


Ready-to-Camp Tents: La Rive camping grounds. You’ll have a prime spot right next to the Baie de la Pentecote (waterfront).


Yurts: There is only one spot in the park for yurts, but I definitely recommend booking a stay in one. The inside of the yurts are absolutely magical. You’ll feel like you’re in a different century all together.


Farmhouse: There is only one farmhouse in Plaisance National Park. It’s just a basic house but what really sets it apart from the other spots to sleep are the grounds. It has a big backyard with plenty of space for activities. It is only surrounded by forest and fields and attracts tons of animals. I never stayed there but every time I would pass by the house there would be animals roaming through the fields. One could just sit on the porch all day and watch as animals go by. My personal highlight was a family of turkey walking through the thick fields with their babies following behind.


Bring Your Own Tent: The best camping grounds for traditional camping would be either La River, La Baie, or Les Buttes. Each of these have nice views on the water and are mostly isolated from other campers.


My pick: I spent two nights at Plaisance National Park. We stayed in one of the Yurts which was an absolute blast. The Yurt came with a picnic table and an outside fireplace. It also had a small kitchenette and some mattresses which is perfect for some amenities in the wilderness while still offering a traditional tent experience. Staying on site was an amazing time, the night sky was breathtaking with very little light pollution perfect to see the milky way galaxy. We even got to meet a few raccoons trying to break into the Yurt (they didn’t manage to get in).


Conclusion


If you want to explore some of Canada’s least explored spots, then Plaisance National Park is perfect for you. Whether you’re around Ottawa or Montreal, Plaisance National Park will be worth the detour. Whether it’s for the diverse wildlife, the stunning waterfall, or the quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, you won’t be disappointed with your stay here.


If you want to read other articles about places close to Plaisance National Park, click one of the articles below.

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