Esker Waterfalls are a well guarded secret of the Mauricie National Park, one of the largest parks of the Laurentians. Indeed, if you look them up on a map, you won’t even find them. They are located in the territory of Saint-Roch-de-Mekinac, near Shawinigan, and you won’t find much information about their exact location. With more than 150 lakes and many ponds, La Mauricie is one of the most beautiful areas to explore to flee the hustle and bustle of Montreal. Its wildlife include moose, black bears, beavers and otters, so you need to be prepared to some wild encounters. The entire park is a paradise for camping, canoeing, board paddling and kayaking. However, the peculiarity of Esker Waterfalls is that their rock bed is on an angle and the water typically falls only on one side of the slope. Along the way, the water forms ponds and pools where you can dip and relax surrounded by the trees.
The entrance to the site is marked by a suspended bridge. You can get there by car or choose one of the many parking lots along the shores of the Wapizaginke Lake. To get there, follow Ch St Francois to its very end. We left the car in Esker and walked along the lake up to the suspended bridge: the trail is flat and the views are well worth the walk. Just before the suspended bridge, there is a chalet and a few sandy beaches where you can refresh and buy snacks. Most people paddle board and swim here, as the waters are shallow and there’s no current.
We have decided to go straight to the waterfalls, so we have crossed the bridge and started walking uphill. One of the first things we saw, was a series of signs warning against the bears living in the area. We haven’t seen any, but you might want to be equipped if you decide to go there during the week or in low season, when there aren’t many people around. The trail going up the mountain is quite narrow and winds up in between the trees, but offers many outlets to the waterfalls. From the rocks, you can then decide to climb the waterfalls uphill or downhill. For sure, the view as you leave the trees and you find yourself on the walls of the waterfalls is stunning. The place is so beautiful that it’s unreal!
We have explored the waterfalls from the bottom up, stopping at each pool to refresh ourselves and enjoying the surroundings. At the very top, the rocks are smoother and the form slides ending into shallow and large pools.
At the very top of the waterfalls you will find a quiet, shallow lake. We stopped here to eat our lunch with our feet in the water. Then, we followed a wooded walk leading around the lake and in the forest, in a loop trail that ends up at the base of the waterfalls. The trail is beautiful and gave us the chance to discover a lot more about that stretch of forest.
Once back at the suspended bridge, we stopped at the beach to relax and dip our feet in the water. While walking back, we also found plenty of ponds and enchanting corners.
This place is a real treasure. Highly recommended!