Covering 92% of Québec, the public territory is dotted with green forests, fish-bearing lakes and winding rivers. This huge playground for vacationing and outdoor enthusiasts can be either structured or free.
If structured portions such as wildlife territories (ZECs, wildlife reserves, outfitters with exclusive rights, wildlife refuges, etc.) and conservation and protection territories such as national parks are managed and regulated by specific agencies, the portions of so-called free territory are the direct responsibility of the government or a delegated RCM.
Access is therefore less restrictive, but compliance with the rules relating to sharing or occupying the territory, protecting the environment and security remains an indisputable condition.
Hunting, fishing and trapping
A large majority of Québec’s public lands and bodies of water are accessible to everyone. Thus, you may hunt, trap, and fish in compliance with the different rules in effect.
If you wish to fish or hunt in a wildlife territory or conservation and protection areas, refer directly to the management organizations for access rules.
To practice these activities on free territory, the same occupation rules as for camping apply: you have the right to set up a hunting camp, shelter or trailer there to practice your activity, but your structures must absolutely be temporary and collapsible and must be removed after the activity.
Of course, you must always follow the rules regarding safety and environmental protection. Bring your waste back!
You can go wilderness camping without permission on many areas of public land. Your stay should only be temporary, and the camping equipment you use should be mobile and not attached permanently to the ground.
You must also follow certain rules before, during and at the end of your stay:
- Be aware before you leave if there are campfire bans in place in your chosen location.
- Refer to the Forêt ouverte interactive map to ensure that the chosen location is in free public territory.
- Avoid installing your camping equipment or parking your vehicle in a road, trail or drop-off zone that may impede traffic flow.
- Be sure to set up in safe areas away from dangerous areas such as cliffs, high-flow rivers, or areas prone to landslides.
- Leave the occupied location after a stay of up to seven months in the same year.
- At the end of your stay, dismantle your camping equipment, collect all garbage and restore the site to its original condition.
Some RCMS have by‑laws with different provisions. Contact the relevant RCM directly to learn about their wilderness camping regulations.
Camping is prohibited on île au Bœuf, île au Cochon, île aux Crapauds, île aux Hérons, île Sainte‑Thérèse, île aux Vaches et île au Veau, which are part of the territory of the city of Varennes.
Occupying the land permanently
You may not erect on public land a building, facility or structure such as a cottage or a camp, unless you obtain a land right (lease or authorization).
To obtain a right, you have three options:
If you would like to report an illegal occupation, go to the Report an offence on public land page.
You can generally travel freely on public lands, respecting nature and occupation rights, to practice hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or mountain biking.
Access to trails
Trails can be developed and managed by regional and municipal associations or agencies but remain open to all without restrictions on traffic. However, some territories may be located on structured public lands (such as regional parks or ZECs, for example). In these cases, access fees may be required.
Ensure that you remain on public land and have the owner’s permission if the trail you are using crosses private land. You can use the Forêt ouverte interactive map to see the boundaries.
Access to bodies of water
The same applies if you want to access a body of water for a boating activity such as kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, etc. Lakes and rivers are for everyone. but be sure to use public access or have the owner’s permission if you are stepping on private property.
Fall hunting seasons
During hunting season, especially in the fall, avoid areas frequented by hunting enthusiasts and remain vigilant. Some organizations even close trails under their responsibility during this period. Seek information before you leave.
Government initiatives to promote access to the land
In addition to vacationing rights, the government grants rights to construct, develop, maintain or operate recreational trails (motorized or not), such as ATV trails and hiking, snowshoe or cross-country ski trails). However, operating a recreational trail on public land does not grant the operator any lease or ownership rights.
The government is also increasing initiatives to promote access to public land for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Since 2022, it has provided financial support for public development projects and is working to develop new vacationing models outside the Public Land Development Assistance Program (in French only).
Organizing an event
Sporting and recreational activities or events can be organized on public land, such as races, rallies, snowmobile tours, competitions, etc.
To verify if any special rules apply, contact our customer service department using the contact information below. However, to do this, you may need to obtain a temporary occupation permit.
Last update: August 10, 2023