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In the beginning of the colder season, the snow is still spares, but your legs are already itching to get going! And to change it up this winter, why not try out to go off-piste in Quebec? Whether it is skiing, snowshoeing or a combination of skiing and snowshoeing on a Hok ski (skishoeing), get off the beaten track and explore the woods bursting with snow. Attention, these activities may be highly addictive!
– By Frédérique Sauvée

Skiing and snowboarding:

– Vallée Bras du Nord, Quebec City area

Blessed with generous snowfalls every winter, the “Vallée Bras-du-Nord” is a paradise for off-piste lovers. “Eco Plein Air” organizes guided Haute-Route skiing tours that are open to everyone (from beginners to advanced skiers). Climbing skins are slipped on the skis and you climb up the mountain in an area of fresh and untouched snow. Once on top the fun begins and you ski down between trees and in powder up to your knees. And you can repeat this all day long.

– Vallée Taconique, Gaspésie

“Reserve your private mountain in the heart of the Chic-Chocs” proclaims the “Vallée Taconique” to attract the off-piste skiers! This mountain is located in the backcountry of the Mont-Saint-Pierre, in Haute-Gaspésie, halfway between the river and the Chic-Chocs. It benefits from a Nordic maritime microclimate that provides 600 cm of snow annually. The area is overflowing with natural snow on two steep slopes nestled in a valley carved by a glacier some 15,000 years ago. Imagine the pleasure of skiing down nearly 550 vertical meters. Not to mention the experience of being transported up the mountain with a snowcat, adding a small dose of adventure to the day.

– Mont Alta, Laurentian mountains

After being closed for two years, the small ski resort of Val David rose from the ashes but with a new vocation: off-piste. After reaching the summit with climbing skins, the skiers have the choice of going down the slopes or in the woods off track. One has to understand that there is no ski lift and no artificial snow. Therefore you have to monitor the storms that will cover the mountain with beautiful powder in order to leave first tracks. Courses for beginners and to perfect your off-piste skiing are offered by “Alpagas Aventures”.

Raquette sentier de la boucle de l'auberge


– Station touristique Duchesnay, Quebec City area

A hybrid between cross country skiing and snowshoeing, skishoeing offers the sliding sensation without having to master the off-piste technique. Also known as Hok skis, the name of the brand that produces and sells the skis, these funny short and wide skis allow you to have fun in the woods of Quebec without the need for large altitude. You can try a pair of Hok skis at the “station touristique Duchesnay” which opened three sectors of its area for off-piste skiing. One for beginners (alone or guided) near the “pavillon Horizon” overlooking the “lac Saint-Joseph” and two more areas a little further away for the more advanced skiers. Children can also try Hok skis that are especially adapted to their size.

– Forêt Montmorency, Quebec City area

The goal of the Montmorency Forest was to make the underbrush created by logging accessible to skishoers, and in recent years they really have developed this activity on the circumference of the forest. A multitude of trails allow climbing both sides of the mountain before going down at your own pace and your own agility level. The rental of the equipment as well as guided beginners tours are offered on site.

– Chic-Chocs Mountain Lodge, Gaspésie

Being situated at 615 meters above sea level in the heart of the “réserve faunique de Matane”, the Chic-Chocs Mountain Lodge is the ideal base camp to stay off-piste in the Gaspésie. 60 km2 of land allow you to go on unforgettable skishoeing outings. You can start right from the lodge or after taking a ride on the snowcat, a dozen trails crisscross the mountains, frozen lakes and valleys that are full of snow. After all that effort, the reward is a gourmet meal and a comfortable night in one of the most charming lodges in Quebec.


Off-piste snowshoeing:

– Massif du Sud, Chaudière-Appalaches

About 1 ½ hours south of Quebec City, the regional park of “Massif du Sud” is a well-kept secret in Quebec. With its peaks, deep valleys, ancient forests populated by huge trees, not to mention the 600 cm of snow that fall each winter, it is clearly a winter lover’s paradise. 40 km of snowshoe trails crisscross the territory and you are allowed to practice going off-piste in order to explore the woods. Three sectors are exclusively reserved to practice skishoeing and downhill snowshoeing.

– Monts Valin National Park, Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean

So rare that we need to mention it: off-piste snowshoeing is allowed in the “Vallée des fantômes des Monts Valin”. However hikers must be accompanied by a naturalist park warden who offers these outings a few times during the week and during weekends in winter. This activity allows exploring the areas on the outskirts of the Dubuc peak, the highest point of the region at 984 meters. You will live a unique experience in the middle of the ghostly trees.

– Mont Gosford, Eastern Townships

Mont Gosford, the highest peak in southern Quebec (1193 meters), offers a 360 degree view of the mountains of Maine, New Hampshire, but also on the border mountains of the Lac-Mégantic region. Equipped with a map of the territory, a cell phone and if possible a GPS, hikers on touring skis and snowshoes alike can have a good time hurtling down the powder filled mountain slopes. For the climb, it is possible to use the snowshoe trails or forest trails. Hours of great pleasure and fun with the prospect and promise of muscle soreness the next day …



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