An Adventurer’s Guide to Quebec
Do you consider yourself an adventurer? Would you choose the great outdoors over shopping and dining? Quebec is full of activities that take you from the tops of mountains to the middle of fjords, from icy waterfalls to river waves. We’ve put together a little guide to help you live your own Quebec adventure.
Ski and snowboard
Quebec gets a ton of snow every year (over 120 inches in some cities, and far more on the mountains), and with that much snow you know there’s going to be a huge ski and snowboard scene. Around 70 ski centers exist in the province, most of them quite close to the big cities of Montreal and Quebec City. Whether you’re nailing grabs on the halfpipe, flying down moguls, or just want to relax on a few blue runs, there’s a hill out there for you.
Among the most popular mountains are Mont-Tremblant, Mont-Sainte-Anne, and Le Massif de Charlevoix. Mont-Tremblant, located less than two hours from Montreal is home to one of the most powerful and sophisticated snowmaking systems in North America, and hosts 96 runs on four sides of the mountain. Only 30 minutes from Quebec City, Mont-Sainte-Anne has 71 runs scattered over one of the most beautiful resorts in the country. It also has the highest vertical drop for night skiing in all of Canada. Finally, Le Massif actually has the highest vertical drop east of the Canadian Rockies and is known for its massive snowfall, which hits over 22 feet annually.
In addition to the major hills, there are tons of opportunities to grab a local guide and go backcountry skiing. One popular destination for backcountry is the Chic-Choc Mountains. While quite far to the east of Montreal, the mountain range has more than 25 summits of over 3,200 feet in height. You won’t find a better setting to leave the trails behind.
Hiking and biking
Hiking is one of the best ways to experience the vast nature of Quebec. Over 3,700 miles of hiking trails exist in the province, so you’re probably not going to be able to explore them all during your visit. No matter where you’re staying, there’s going to be a hike nearby.
Here are a few of the most popular destinations:
- Mont-Saint Hilaire: Located quite close to Montreal, it has around 15.5 miles of trails.
- La Mauricie National Park: Whether you want a quick 30-minute jaunt, or have seven hours to spend immersed in nature, one of this park’s 14 trails is right for you
- Gaspesie Provincial Park: With 25 peaks over 3,280 feet high, this park’s 87 miles of trails will expose you to breathtaking views, and a variety of flora and fauna.
Many of the popular ski hills also double as hiking destinations or, if you’d rather conquer them on two wheels, mountain biking hubs. The previously mentioned Mont-Tremblant and Mont-Sainte-Anne provide some of the best biking trails in Quebec. Another ski hill in the Eastern Townships, Bromont, has 24 trails that draw in crowds of mountain bikers. But the most popular mountain biking destination is probably the Vallée Bras-du-Nord near Quebec City. People who visit the area’s two separate mountain biking sectors tend to start planning their next trip to Quebec while they’re still on the trail.
On the water
With thousands upon thousands of lakes and rivers, including the St. Lawrence River, Quebec is definitely a place where you can get wild on the water.
Sea kayaking is a popular activity along the eastern coast of the province and in the Saguenay Fjord. Carved by 65,000 year-old glaciers and stretching more than 62 miles, the Saguenay Fjord is where rugged cliffs and wildlife meet the sea. Stop, let your kayak drift awhile, lift your paddles and you might see peregrine falcons, loons, or fin whales and humpbacks. If you're really lucky, you might even spot a beluga’s white back or hear the “pssshh!” of a minke whale’s breath.
Of course, a calm kayaking experience isn’t for everyone. Some people would rather test their mettle in the rushing white water. For white water rafting you’re probably going to want to head to the Rouge River near Mont-Tremblant or the Jacques Cartier River close to Quebec City. A number of rafting companies will make sure you enjoy your time in the rapids and make it back in one piece.
On the snow and ice
The winter snow and ice brings a lot more to the table than just skiing. You can make snow angels, have a snowball fight, or speed through feet of powder on a high-powered snowmobile. Let’s talk about that last one.
You can find over 20,000 miles of snowmobile trails in Quebec. Basically, wherever you are, there’s a snowmobile trail nearby. The further away from the city you’re willing to go, the more snowy terrain there is to explore. Snowmobile in Quebec can help you find the right snowmobile experience, whether you want to rub shoulders with wildlife or traverse mountain peaks.
If speed isn’t your only objective, ice climbing is a great way to appreciate the waters of Quebec in the winter. In Montmorency Falls Park, minutes from Quebec City, you can grab a harness and climb sections of the frozen 272-foot high falls, which are taller than their counterpart in Niagara Falls.
Or, for a uniquely Quebecois adventure, try your hand at ice canoeing. No, we don’t put the canoes in storage for the winter. Instead, we bring them out onto the frozen St. Lawrence River in downtown Quebec City. Alternate between rowing and pushing as you take on these powerful waters with the historic city in your rearview mirror.
Ice canoeing is a great introduction to some of the more extreme adventures you can experience in Quebec. Paragliding, bungee jumping and skydiving are three of the more traditional extreme options, and you can find them all in the province.
River surfing provides a different, more unique extreme experience for those who don’t mind a little cold water. Surfers hit the Lachine Rapids in Montreal for an experience that is quite different from surfing in the ocean. River waves are stationary, meaning if you can catch one, you can essentially ride it forever (or until you bail).
And we couldn’t talk about extreme sports without mentioning Redbull’s Crashed Ice in Quebec City. While you can’t actually participate in the event, even watching a bunch of people fly down an ice course at 30 mph on skates is enough to get the adrenaline pumping.
For more outdoor inspiration, visit the Quebec Original website.