Story by Tamara Baluja
MONT TREMBLANT, QUEBEC — The snow was falling lightly on the coniferous trees and a small waterfall rushed into the stream below. The scene was right out of a winter wonderland. The only sound was the sliding of our skis as we made our way across a trail at Parc National du Mont Tremblant.
When one thinks Mont Tremblant, it’s usually for the thrill of downhill skiing and it is some of the best in the eastern half of the continent. But a well-kept secret is that Tremblant also has plenty of cross-country action. That’s what my husband and I decided to check out after several days of going downhill.
My husband has been cross-country skiing in Quebec‘s Gatineau region since he was young kid growing up in Ottawa. And he has a frame that’s ideal for the sport — long legs for a big stride and a wing span that can reach far forward with his poles. Me, not so much. I’m short and petite. But what I lack in size, I make up for in determination and stamina.
And oh do you need your stamina for cross-country skiing. See, downhill is easier because gravity does most of the work. There’s little doubt that you’ll make it down — maybe with a few wipeouts — but you’ll make it down. There’s no such luck with the cross-country version of the sport. How much distance you cover depends on the strength you can maintain on your own two skis.
So if I’m doing all that work, it better be worthwhile. The cross-country skiing around Tremblant certainly is.
In a short 15-kilometre (9 miles) loop, we saw a giant wall of icicles, skied past a stunning sheer face of a mountain on one side and a beautiful frozen lake on the other. Although we didn’t see animals, we saw plenty of animal and bird tracks during our trek into the woods. We took a break at a wonderfully maintained shelter that had a warm stove and plenty of chopped wood. We heated up our homemade sandwiches on top of the stove and had a lovely meal.
While getting to the park was a long drive — almost an hour from the resort village — it was well worth it. The cross-country trails are well-marked and well-maintained and unlike the packed downhill scene at Tremblant, we encountered almost no one.
It was nothing short of ideal.
MORE ABOUT CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING IN MONT TREMBLANT
Parc National du Mont-Tremblant: Despite its name, the park is a provincial park of Quebec, not a Canadian national park. It has 39 kilometres of groomed and marked track in its La Diable sector. The Pembina sector has access to back-country skiing. The cross-country trails are spread over six circuits, ranging from easy to difficult, and it has six warming huts with a wooden stove. Some also have mattresses where you can sleep and there are also five yurts available for overnight stays.
Costs: Equipment can be rented for $15 for children, $23.75 for adults and $53.25 for a family. Day tickets and park admission can be purchased at $18.79 for adults, $9.18 for children aged six to 17, $15.66 for seniors and students aged 18 to 25, and families for $42.88. Tickets can also be purchased in a booklet of 10 and a season pass.
Website: Click here for more details.
Domaine Saint-Bernard: Formerly a congregation of the Brothers of Christian Instruction, the 600-hectare grounds are now managed by a land trust. It is a 10-minute drive from the Tremblant resort. The more than 150 kilometres of trails range from beginner through expert level. They are operated by not-for-profit outfitter Mont Tremblant Cross Country Skiing Centre, and offer views of forests, open meadows and excellent vantage points from mountain tops. The views of the Devil’s River are particularly spectacular. You can also take a break at one of the two shelters. Lessons are offered for classic skiing or skate skiing.
Costs: The price for an unguided day ticket: $18:50 for an adult, $8.50 for children aged 7 to 17, free for children under 7, or $50 for a family. Guided tours cost $95 for an adult, $36 for children aged 13 to 17 and $24.50 for children aged six through 12.
Website: Click here for more details.