The Canadian Appalachian Mountains are the oldest mountains in North America. Once stretching as high as the Alps in Europe and the Rocky Mountains of the West, they have been worn down by natural erosion over millions of years, forming the gentle slopes we see today. They extend for nearly 2,000 miles, from Newfoundland and Labrador down to Alabama in the United States. Oddly, part of the mountain range is technically in France, as the range extends to the French territory of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, south of Newfoundland.

sunny forest mountain range view in canada near newfoundland

Where are the Canadian Appalachian Mountains Located?

The Appalachian Mountain Range stretches through both the United States and Canada. In Canada, they can be found in the coastal provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Quebec.

History

hiking path sign near mont jacquest cartier mountains in canada

The Canadian Appalachians were formed over 480 million years ago by volcanic activity. They are made up of marine sedimentary rocks and volcanic rocks. Despite heavy erosion, most of the mountains still stand at an average of 3,000 feet. The tallest mountain, Mount Mitchell, stands at 6,684 feet. The tallest within Canada is Mont Jacques-Cartier, which stands at 4,186 feet. There are over 3,850 named mountains.

They get their name from the Apalchen, a tribe of First Nations peoples that inhabited the region. The mountain range first appeared on maps in 1565. Because of their location, they present a barrier to land travel by highway and rail and were once a dividing line between colonists and Native American tribes.

Today, the mountains are a rich source of coal, and coal mining presents a significant threat to the ecosystems of the region. There are also petroleum and natural gas deposits within the mountains, which have drawn the attention of the oil industry.

There is significant biodiversity within the mountain region, with a high number of plants and animal species making the mountains their home. The Appalachians are best known for being a mixed forest, containing a diverse selection of deciduous broadleaf trees.

Best time to visit Canadian Appalachian Mountains

flowers and a building at Gaspe Peninsula in canada

Because of how far the Appalachians extend, the climate is very different depending on the area you are visiting. The best time to visit the Appalachians is in the autumn when the leaves are changing color. The landscape makes for a spectacular background for a road trip.

The mountains can cause unpredictable weather patterns including unexpected rainfall. Be ready for all types of weather when you head out. No matter when you visit, be aware of your surroundings. The Appalachians feature over 2,190 miles of wilderness trails, which present dangers from ticks to heavy rainfall to wild animals.

What to do at the Canadian Appalachians

The Canadian Appalachians are best known for their hiking trails, no matter what province you choose to visit from.

Notre Dame Mountains

Notre Dame Mountain range in winter in canada

The Notre Dame Mountains are part of the Appalachian Mountains within the province of Quebec. They are characterized by rolling hills and dense forests and contain a total of 485 mountains. The mountains present the perfect hiking opportunity and are close to the province’s two main cities, Montréal and Québec City. Explore the foothills, or in the winter, take advantage of the ski hills.

Parc National de Forillon and Parc National de la Gaspésie

Parc National De Forillon cliffs view in quebec canada

There are a number of national parks that allow access to the mountains. The best parks in Quebec are Parc National de Forillon and Parc National de la Gaspésie. These parks feature sand dunes, sea cliffs, and salt marshes, and offer protection to the flora and fauna of the area. You may even see some woodland caribou on your camping trip.

Sugarloaf Provincial Park

sugarloaf mountain water reflection near new brunswick in canada

This provincial park contains just some of the Appalachian Mountains found in Canada. It is 4.4 square miles and is all season. Sugarloaf Mountain itself is an extinct volcano and is surrounded by undeveloped forest areas. There are two large lakes that offer fishing and canoeing. Here you can camp at a private site, rent a yurt, or take advantage of some of the onsite chalets. Guests can go skiing in the winter at the Alpine Ski Resort. The resort operates a ski lift and also rents snowshoes and ice skates. There are also dirt bike trails in the summer, or hike the trails year-round. Located in New Brunswick, it is fully bilingual and easily accessible.

Inch Arran Point Range Lighthouses

Bay Des Chaleurs beach view near new brunswick in canada

The Canadian coastline is dotted with beautiful lighthouses. The Inch Arran Point Range Lighthouses are no exception and offer stunning views of the Appalachian Mountains. View the Bay des Chaleurs and then head out to explore the world’s second-longest natural sand bar, which has fresh water on one side and saltwater on the other. The Bay is the 31st member of the Most Beautiful Bays of the World Club.

Gaspe Peninsula

aerial seaside view in Gaspe Peninsula near quebec in canada

If you want to go whale watching in Quebec, the Gaspe Peninsula is the best spot.  It is located on the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River and is dominated by the Chic-Choc Mountains, part of the Appalachian Mountains.  The area is the second-most popular tourism region in Quebec.  Hike up the mountains, and then tour the small fishing villages of the area.  The scenic area allows for fishing and cliff diving as well.

Parc Provincial Mount Carleton Provincial Park

Park Parc Provincial Mount Carleton cloudy view in canada near quebec

This park contains the Maritime’s highest mountain. The park claims that from its peak you can see 10 million trees on a clear day. The park has a nearby parking lot, which works as a good home base for hikers heading out for the day. There are cabins and campsites on site that can be rented to take advantage of the lake fishing.

If you are going to hike up Mount Carleton, be wary that the summit generally goes through cloud cover and it is often raining. Dress appropriately and be prepared for a steep hike. Though it is definitely worth the effort for the view.

How to get to the Canadian Appalachian Mountains

The Appalachians can be easily accessed by visiting any of Canada’s coastal provinces. There are national parks that encompass parts of the mountain range, making it easy to park and hike toward the mountains.