Chute Sainte-Anne (or Saint Anne Falls) was an enjoyable waterfall experience for the whole family for many reasons. Not only were Julie and I pretty mesmerized by the 74m drop over several twisting and thundering tiers nestled deep within the deep Canyon Sainte-Anne, but our daughter also seemed to enjoy the experience (albeit probably for reasons that weren’t necessarily waterfall-related). Indeed, it was one of those places where it seemed like there was something for everyone.
Of course, Julie and I were originally attracted to this place for the impressive waterfall itself. The other stuff was merely icing on the cake. It was probably one of the tallest waterfalls we managed to see on our New England/Canada trip of 2013, but the height alone wasn’t all that we enjoyed about it. There were also plenty of Autumn colors all around Canyon Sainte-Anne, which really contrasted the otherwise shadowy and dark depths of the canyon. On top of that, we also got to see the falls from numerous angles since the well-developed trails allowed us to take it in from almost every position imaginable.
From a photographer’s perspective, our visit happened to occur when the sun just broke free from the morning clouds for good. Thus, we were getting harsh sidelighting and even some frontal lighting as we were facing the falls. Plus, the sun created dark shadows which resulted in some pretty extreme contrast zones (i.e. non-shadowy parts got blown out whenever the stuff in the shadows were resolved or conversely, the shadowy parts were too dark when the non-shadowy parts were getting acceptable brightness). So based on our observations, I’d say that the early afternoon might be best for photos as you’d get the benefit of backlighting and you’re more likely to minimize the shadows.
For the most comprehensive views of the entire height of the falls, we checked out the falls from the opposite side of the gorge, which was accessible by a sturdy bridge above the top of the falls as well as a bouncy and narrow bridge suspended 60m from the bottom while spanning the Canyon Sainte-Anne. The suspension bridge yielded full frontal views of the falls from 60m above the floor of the canyon. The photo you see at the top of this page was taken from this bridge. If we wanted to get closer to the rushing water to better appreciate the waterfall’s power, there were overlooks on the near side of the gorge where the loud noise made it difficult to have a conversation without shouting.
If the views of the falls from the rim of the gorge weren’t enough, the trail also allowed us to walk further downstream then go down a series of stairs deep into the canyon itself (our map called it the “mini canyon” probably because the gorge opened up shortly downstream of this spot). Once down there, we crossed another suspension bridge where the tall canyon walls were towering above us while there were other hidden waterfalls spilling near the bridge. The Chute Sainte-Anne could barely be seen from down here, but we figured that getting down to this point of the well-established walk was more of an exercise in admiring the canyon from within.
Then, there were others who took a more interactive approach to their visit by partaking in rock climbs, ziplines, and wire walks. We didn’t partake in these paid activities as it appeared they were really for adrenaline junkies. However, we did witness helmeted tour participants climb the steep canyon walls, cling onto them, or even traverse the canyon (over the turbulent waters within the canyon) on wires or by zipline. It was quite entertaining to see them do these things as there was definitely an element of danger and adrenaline rush, I’m sure.
As for why our daughter enjoyed her visit, it turned out that most of the developed walkways were quite family friendly. Fences were put in where dropoff exposure was the most prevalent. We still had to keep an eye on her since anyone can climb fences or sneak through the openings if persistent, but the fact that we were able to let her enjoy the place at her own pace without me having to carry her around on the child carrier made the experience even that much more enjoyable all around.
There was also a playground near the entrance that our daughter enjoyed very much at the very end of our time here. In between the playground and the falls were several large statues of animals typical of the area, which Tahia really loved to pose by or even ride. In the picnic area between the car park and visitor center, our daughter even enjoyed playing amidst the sea of fallen leaves.
All three of us spent a little over 2 hours at a very leisurely pace. Our walking route kind of took on the shape of a “g”. We walked in a clockwise direction crossing over a bridge above the falls then walking downhill towards the suspension bridge passing by overlooks of Chute Sainte-Anne along the way. Then, we crossed the suspension bridge before continuing further downhill towards the steps that led us down towards the lower suspension bridge within the canyon itself. This was a dead-end so we walked back up the stairs, then completed the loop back near the top of the falls passing by even more vantage points that were much closer to the rushing waters of Chute Sainte-Anne.
Julie and I paid about $12 CAD per person to enter the facility, which didn’t open until 9am. Our daughter came in for free. We figured that given the amount of infrastructure that was here, the price was probably justified. And although the place did feel somewhat commercialized, the star of the Canyon Sainte-Anne was still the Chute Sainte-Anne, and enough Nature was allowed to prevail despite the compromises being made for both commercialism and for utility (as we did see power lines in the area so the waters might be tapped for energy somewhere close by).
From Quebec City, we took the Route 440 east, which then briefly became Route 40 before becoming Route 138 past the Pont de L’Ile d’Orleans (the Bridge of Orleans Island). We’d follow Route 138 through the town of Beaupre (passing by the impressive Basilica of the Sanctuary of Sainte-Anne of Beaupre) eventually reaching the signposted turnoff for Canyon Sainte-Anne on the left as Route 138 was in the midst of its climb east of Beaupre. It took us about 45 minutes to do this drive.
However, we do have to caution that since we had to make a left turn to get into the turnoff for Canyon Sainte-Anne and off the Hwy 138, it meant that we were doing so in the passing lane of the highway. That could be potentially dangerous since passing lanes are generally used by people wishing to speed up and pass slow moving vehicles. So imagine how dangerous it would be if passing motorists were to suddenly slam the brakes due to stopped cars in this lane waiting for oncoming traffic on the other side of the road to pass so the left turn could be made!
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