The Highlands

89 people
reached in 2022 during our mountain hikes.
602 campeurs

Together to Protect the Highland Ecosystems

The GUEPE team is spilling out onto the summits of Charlevoix! Thanks to the support of several national and regional partners, GUEPE's nature educators will roam the mountains to raise awareness about the fragility of highland ecosystems.

These ecosystems are rare in Quebec and are fragile. Under the pressure of snow, wind and sun in the summer, these areas are dominated by rock and characteristic low vegetation. Lichen, which can be found there in large quantities, is essential for the development of several species. In order to preserve these unique natural spaces, it is essential to make users aware of the fragility of the summits.

Tools for All

In consultation with local professionals, several information, awareness and training tools on fragile summit ecosystems have been developed and will be shared, such as:
  • Green brigades on the trails;  
  • Guided hikes;
  • Interpretation panels on the trails (coming soon);
  • An audio guide (in French) about good practices before and during a hike;
  • Short videos (in French) that present alpine ecosystems.

More videos

Let yourself be carried by the winds of the summits and discover the highlands with our videos (in French).

Boreal Forest (in French)

Alpine Vegetation (in French)

Lichen (in French)

Challenges on the Trails

  • Admire and enjoy.
  • Bring back EVERYTHING that you brought.
  • Be careful not to step on lichen.
  • Protect plants.

Lichen is essential to alpine ecosystems.

Stay on the trails to prevent trampling of the vegetation.

Leave no trace of your visit.

Put up your tent under the tall boreal forest trees.

Visit the Charlevoix Highlands

If you want to discover this ecosystem and these beautiful Charlevoix mountains, here are a few hikes we recommend:

One of the surprising aspects of Charlevoix is its topography, or its forms and features. The region is shaped by three levels. Starting from the river, there are lowlands, followed by the intermediate plateaus, the uplands, at an altitude of between 200 and 550 m. This is where the boreal forest is found, punctuated by hundreds of beautiful lakes to discover. Finally, there are the highlands. This third level, which exceeds 550 m in altitude, culminates at 1,043 m.

These mountains are incredibly rich in biodiversity. The highland ecosystem is special. This is where the natural conditions are too extreme for large trees to thrive. The mature height of trees does not exceed 4 m, and the stems have eroded growth forms. There are birds like the peregrine falcon and Bicknell's thrush, tons of invertebrates, and a few large passing mammals.

The highlands are part of the natural heritage of Charlevoix, but also of Quebec. They can only be found in three regions: in the north around the Monts Groulx, towards the west in the parc national de la Gaspésie and in Charlevoix. Besides its rarity, this ecosystem is very fragile and extremely sensitive to trampling. The ground litter is so thin and sometimes non-existent that plants, mosses and especially lichens are very quickly damaged. Adding to this, the extreme environmental conditions, such as heavy snow, intense winds and dryness under the summer sun, make it a challenging ecosytem to thrive in. Despite the effort made by these species to survive, some lichens only grow 0.1 to 10 mm per year. It is therefore the least we can do to give them every chance we can.

So, the watchword when exploring the Charlevoix highlands is to limit your impact: stay on the trails and camp further down the mountain, on a more sustainable surface.

Visit the highlands and protect these fragile ecosystems.

The alpine zone is dominated by bare rock and low vegetation.

Cladonia stellaris, or star-tipped cup lichen, is characteristic of the highlands.

The subalpine zone is a transition between the boreal forest and the summits.

The highland trees often have asymmetrical tops due to the wind.

Plants, such as bog labrador tea, grow in the highlands.

The alpine fauna, including waxwings, enjoy these ecosystems.

Krummholz are trees that are stunted and deformed by the wind.

The dense boreal forest borders the subalpine zone.


During the first year of this regional awareness campaign, we carried out seven green brigades on the trails, as well as guided hikes, one of which was attended by Gabriel Filippi, lecturer, mountaineer and spokesperson for this project.


In 2022, GUEPE reached 89 people, during green brigades on the trails.


Production of the audio guide and interpretive videos has begun. The tools will be available online by 2023.


A new program of actions will be developed in 2023 to better raise awareness among various users to the fragility and richness of the Charlevoix mountains.  

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In Pertnership With
These educational tools are only available in French at the moment.
Thank you for your understanding.
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