Chutes de la Chaudiere

Levis / Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

About Chutes de la Chaudiere


Hiking Distance: 2km round trip
Suggested Time: 1-2 hours

Date first visited: 2013-10-06
Date last visited: 2013-10-06

Waterfall Latitude: 46.71498
Waterfall Longitude: -71.28254

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The Chutes de la Chaudiere (or the Chaudiere Falls) were an impressive set of segmented waterfalls about 35m tall falling side by side to each other.

One thing that made our waterfalling experience here quite different from the other waterfalls that we visited near the charming Quebec City was that admission and parking for the falls were free.

Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_104_10062013 - Chutes de la Chaudiere
Chutes de la Chaudiere

In fact, the Parc des Chutes-de-la-Chaudiere felt like a true park where we were able to walk about at our own leisure without the monetization and/or exploitation to help us part with more of our money.

According to the literature, the word chaudiere meant “boiler”, and apparently this was due to the mist that the falls would generate at its base.

The first evidence of the usage of this name was said to be from early explorers who had labeled this falls on their maps as “Sault de la Chaudiere”.

The turbulent mist action was understandable as the falls was said to average about 130 cubic meters per second with a peak of about 1240 cubic meters during times of high water (most likely in the Spring).

Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_022_10062013 - Context of the Chutes de la Chaudiere as seen from the banks of the Chaudiere River
Context of the Chutes de la Chaudiere as seen from the banks of the Chaudiere River

The Chutes de la Chaudiere was said to represent the last major drop of the 185km Chaudiere River just before emptying into the St Lawrence River.

Chutes de la Chaudiere – An Urban Waterfall

Being so close to the urban developments, we felt this was pretty much an urban waterfall.

There was a 24MW dam and hydro faciility upstream of the main drop of the falls that dated back to 1901 (though it had to be rebuilt due to major flooding in 1970).

Power lines were everpresent all around us, and the river itself had a smell that would make us quite hesitant to get too close to the water.

Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_128_10062013 - Looking down over some dam infrastructure towards the brink of the Chutes de la Chaudiere
Looking down over some dam infrastructure towards the brink of the Chutes de la Chaudiere

That said, the currents and sudden release of water from the hydro facility would make lingering in the water a bad idea anyway. =

So considering all the factors, we thought of the Chutes de la Chaudiere Waterfall in much the same way we thought of Shoshone Falls.

That means that it had all the potential to have a scenic rating of 4 or higher, but the man-made interventions kind of took away from its potential thereby yielding the 3.5 rating.

Nevertheless, we still found the Chaudiere Falls to be beautiful and the experience was pleasant, but we just had to look past some of its scars.

Experiencing the Chutes de la Chaudiere (Chaudiere Falls) – Before la Passerelle

Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_003_10062013 - Looking down towards la Passerelle from the start of the walk to experience the Chutes de la Chaudiere
Looking down towards la Passerelle from the start of the walk to experience the Chutes de la Chaudiere

Our visit began from car park near Entrance A (see directions) according to our map.

From there, we got our first glimpse of Chutes de la Chaudiere though in hindsight, we should’ve walked upstream a little more to see some of the closer overlooks of the wide falls in profile.

This missed overlook was said to be at the end of a 630m footpath labeled Les Belvederes on our map.

In any case, we then went down some stairs and followed the 360m path labeled La Passerelle, which headed towards a suspension bridge crossing the Chaudiere River.

Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_041_10062013 - Julie checking out Chutes-de-la-Chaudiere after scrambling onto the riverbed of the Chaudiere River
Julie checking out Chutes-de-la-Chaudiere after scrambling onto the riverbed of the Chaudiere River

We took a brief detour down some steep stairs down onto a rough riverbed allowing us to scramble closer to the impressive Chutes de la Chaudiere.

We were careful not to get too close to the fast current in the river (and making sure our daughter didn’t linger out there either).

In addition, we were cognizant of the large potholes and mini-dropoffs conspiring to turn an ankle or tweak a knee as we were doing our riverbed scramble to get closer.

Back on the Passerelle footpath, the views of the falls became increasingly more direct.

Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_074_10062013 - Julie and Tahia on la Passerelle crossing over the Chaudiere River
Julie and Tahia on la Passerelle crossing over the Chaudiere River

The Autumn foliage surrounding the area made for a colorful scene, but the morning sun was somewhat against us.

Indeed, we learned quickly that perhaps this waterfall would be best photographed in the afternoon on a sunny day or on a cloudy day (though parking might be an issue that late in the day).

The most direct views of the Chaudiere Falls were from the suspension bridge (la Passerelle), which was said to be 113m long and 23m above the river.

Looking downstream from the bridge, we saw the giant highway bridges spanning the St Lawrence River between the suburb of Levis and the outskirts of the greater Quebec City.

Experiencing the Chutes de la Chaudiere (Chaudiere Falls) – After la Passerelle

Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_081_10062013 - Looking back from the far side of la Passerelle towards the Chutes de la Chaudiere and a diversion channel where I'd imagine power gets generated before the water gets released and rejoins the Chaudiere River
Looking back from the far side of la Passerelle towards the Chutes de la Chaudiere and a diversion channel where I’d imagine power gets generated before the water gets released and rejoins the Chaudiere River

On the other side of the bridge, we took a trail that was closest to the opposite side of the river, which was an 830m path labeled la Presqu’ile (the peninsula) on our map.

This path followed a side channel towards the outflow of the hydroelectric facility before curving back around on the opposite side of the outflow channel.

The path then curved once again alongside the Chaudiere River.

There were more scrambling paths leading down to the riverbed along this path, but it seemed like we had to be careful about brushing up against poison ivy.

Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_089_10062013 - Looking towards some structure that I believe houses the power-generating turbines that convert the power of falling water into electricity at the Chutes de la Chaudiere
Looking towards some structure that I believe houses the power-generating turbines that convert the power of falling water into electricity at the Chutes de la Chaudiere

Eventually, this path climbed up alongside the Chaudiere Falls where we were able to get the views you see at the top of this page.

Those were probably our most satisfying photos of the falls though I still regret not taking the time to see the other overlooks near the Entrance A car park.

In any case, we eventually went up to the dam above the Chutes de la Chaudiere while checking out some more interpretive signs there.

After having our fill of the falls, we then followed the 440m path labeled La Boise back to la Passerelle (suspension bridge), where we then took the remaining 360m back up to the car park.

Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_093_10062013 - Looking downstream towards la Passerelle and the Chaudiere River from this walkway on the power station side of the river
Looking downstream towards la Passerelle and the Chaudiere River from this walkway on the power station side of the river

Overall, the way we did the visit just as described took us just under 2 hours.

It was a leisurely stroll where we encountered numerous other Quebecois families (with young ones of similar age to our daughter) taking a morning Sunday stroll.

However, experiencing the Chutes de la Chaudiere Waterfalls need not require as much hiking nor as much time as we took.

Thus, I bumped down the difficulty rating to 2 even though the time that we had spent here might have suggested otherwise.

Authorities

Chutes de la Chaudiere (Chaudiere Falls) resides in the Parc des Chutes-de-la-Chaudiere in the city of Levis near Quebec City in the province of Quebec, Canada. It is adminstered by the City of Levis. For information or inquiries as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_002_10062013 - Our first look at Chutes de la Chaudiere from the nearest overlook to the Entrance A car park. Notice the barrage (dam) just above the falls
Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_006_10062013 - Julie and Tahia going down the steps to embark on the walk to experience more of the Chutes de la Chaudiere
Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_007_10062013 - As we descended the initial part of the walk to la Passerelle, we already started to get partial views of the Chutes de la Chaudiere
Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_013_10062013 - Context of Julie checking out the Chutes de la Chaudiere from an overgrown lookout along the initial part of our walk towards la Passerelle
Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_016_10062013 - View of Chutes de la Chaudiere from one of the first lookouts beneath the stairs by the car park
Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_020_10062013 - Looking towards the Chutes de la Chaudiere Waterfalls in the distance before descending onto the riverbed of the Chaudiere River
Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_026_10062013 - Context of the uneven footing in the riverbed of the Chaudiere River and the Chutes de la Chaudiere in the distance
Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_027_10062013 - Looking upstream from the banks of the Chaudiere River towards as much of the full width of the Chutes de la Chaudiere that I could see from there
Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_030_10062013 - Looking downstream along the Chaudiere River towards la Passerelle perched above the river
Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_048_10062013 - Looking back up at the stairs leading down to the riverbed of the Chaudiere River
Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_049_10062013 - Looking back at the context of the rough terrain along the Chaudiere River and the Chutes de la Chaudiere in the background
Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_050_10062013 - Julie and Tahia continuing on the trail towards the Passerelle after having checked out the Chaudiere River's riverbed
Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_051_10062013 - Looking past some colorful foliage towards the Chutes de la Chaudiere from another lookout area
Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_054_10062013 - Broad contextual look at the Chaudiere River with the Chutes de la Chaudiere in the background as seen from a more direct lookout area
Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_065_10062013 - Another look at the context of the Chaudiere River and the Chutes de la Chaudiere, but this one focuses more on the turbulence in the river as it passes beneath la Passerelle
Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_070_10062013 - Looking downstream from la Passerelle towards some attractive autumn foliage with some power lines along the Chaudiere River
Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_072_10062013 - Looking downstream from the Passerelle towards the road bridges spanning both the Chaudiere River and the St Lawerence River in the distance
Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_083_10062013 - On the other side of the Passerelle following the footpath called la Presqu'ile (the peninsula)
Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_107_10062013 - Looking across the Chutes de la Chaudiere from near its brink on the far side of the Chaudiere River
Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_111_10062013 - Looking down from the brink of Chutes de la Chaudiere on the way up to the hydro facility
Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_127_10062013 - Looking downstream across a lawn area near the brink of Chutes de la Chaudiere towards some nice Autumn foliage and transmission lines
Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_134_10062013 - Julie and Tahia starting to head back after having had our fill of the brink of the Chutes de la Chaudiere
Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_135_10062013 - Julie and Tahia headed back towards the Passerelle on the path called Le Boise
Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_137_10062013 - Julie and Tahia back at the Passerelle and crossing it to return to the car park
Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_143_10062013 - Last look back at Chutes de la Chaudiere from the Passerelle

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To get to Chutes de la Chaudiere (or Chaudiere Falls) from Old Quebec City, we had to navigate the city streets trying to figure out how to get to the Autoroute.

In hindsight, we should’ve descended from Old Quebec to Rue St Paul headed west, then we should’ve remained on Boulevard Charest westbound to the AUT-440.

Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_001_10062013 - The Entrance A parking lot closest to the walk that we ended up taking to experience the Chutes de la Chaudiere
The Entrance A parking lot closest to the walk that we ended up taking to experience the Chutes de la Chaudiere

Once on the AUT-440, it would’ve been straightforward to interchange with the AUT-73 due south then follow the signs telling us to exit for the Parc des Chutes-de-la-Chaudiere.

The signs ultimately would lead to the Entrance A car park.

Our drive was a direct-but-slower local drive following the Rue St Louis west from Old Quebec.

Rue St Louis ultimately became the Grande Allee (Route 175), then Boul Laurier, before finally entering the autoroute where we followed the signs for AUT-73 south.

Chutes_de_la_Chaudiere_004_10062013 - The start of the walk leading down to la Passerelle and the riverbands of the Chaudiere River
The start of the walk leading down to la Passerelle and the riverbands of the Chaudiere River

Taking this route ended up being a nearly 50 minute drive given all the traffic lights we had to go through.

If you’re headed north on AUT-73, I recalled there were obvious signs to exit for Parc des Chutes-de-la-Chaudiere, and that off-ramp would ultimately lead to the Entrance A car park.

For context, Quebec City was 255km (about 3 hours drive) northeast of Montreal and 448km (4.5 hours drive) east of Ottawa.

Right to left sweep from the first lookout starting with the Passerelle then ending at the falls


360 degree sweep starting with a zoom-in of the falls, then panning back across the bedrock, then zooming in on the pasarelle, before ending back at the falls


Right to left sweep from the trail, then zoomed in and panning across the falls


Left to right sweep from the passarelle, starting with zoom-in of the falls then ending downstream of the bridge


Small circular sweep of the falls from a lookout near the dam on the quieter side of the river

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Tagged with: levis, quebec city, canada, waterfall, chaudiere, dam, regulated, hydroelectricity, passerelle, urban waterfall



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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