This linear park, inaugurated in 2008, follows the rivière Saint-Charles for 32 kilometres. The trail begins at Lac-Saint-Charles and ends in the Old Port where the river joins the St. Lawrence River.
Walking holds pride of place, but there's also a 8 kilometre stretch where cyclists and rollerbladers can enjoy nature in the city. Birding is popular here too, either informally or with the naturalist-guides of Société de la rivière Saint-Charles. In winter there's snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
The mouth of the rivière Saint-Charles is where Jacques Cartier spent his first winter on Canadian soil in 1535–1536. It was also the location of the Iroquoian village of Stadacona. One section of the trail leads past Cartier-Brébeuf National Historic Site. Another takes hikers through an impressive canyon and waterfall near the home of the Huron-Wendat nation.
Closer to downtown, you will also see works by sculptor Truong Chanh Trung representing stylized renditions of local birds, as well as unique and original benches designed by various local artists.
Picnic tables are provided throughout the park for hikers' use.
It's hard to imagine that in 1996, just before work began on the park, the Saint-Charles was considered Canada's most polluted river.
To bring it back to life, the City of Québec undertook a massive project stretching over 14 years. Concrete retaining walls were removed from a 4 kilometre stretch to restore the river to its natural state. Fourteen retention ponds were created to collect wastewater and divert it to a treatment plant.
In the 2000s, enhancement initiatives were implemented to create a variety of wildlife habitats.
At its 2008 annual conference, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) awarded its Sustainable Community Award, Wastewater Category, to the Saint-Charles Riverbank Restoration project. Recognizing leadership in environmental excellence and innovation in service delivery, the award acknowledges the remarkable efforts that went into this project. In 2009, the Restoration Project received a Phénix Environmental Award and the Sentiers-Québec Award by the Fédération québécoise de la marche.
To see and experience nature in the heart of the city, take the time to explore the trails of this marvellous area. You'll be pleasantly surprised.