Winter's End Snowshoeing Picks

Winter is almost over but there still is snow

The groundhog has predicted that winter will be short this year, but that doesn’t mean our winter fun has ended just yet! Below are 3 of my top picks for some last minute snowshoe trail fun.

  • Morin Heights

  • La Mauricie National Park

  • Parc de La Jacques-Cartier

Morin Heights - Trail Network

Can a small town’s regional trail network really be mentioned in the same breath as National and Provincial parks? The answer is quite simply, yes. The Morin Heights trail system boasts more than 200km of intertwined cross-country and snowshoeing trails. The trails can be accessed from various spots in the Morin Heights region, The Aerobic Corridor and The Chalet Bellevue. The trail system also has access points in the municipality of WentWorth-Nord, at The Pavillon Montfort and Laurel Parking.


Arriving at the Aerobic Corridor, a 8.5km mechanically groomed portion of the network used by cross-country skiers, we entered the chalet where we were taken away by their welcome. The employee was by far the most helpful park employee I have ever met, and gave us a quick overview of the area. After a quick briefing, we strapped on our snowshoes and map in hand we headed to the end of the parking to start our journey on the trail.

The trails there are very nice. Even despite not having received any recent snow, the conditions were superb and paths were snowy, white, clean and a pleasure to trek along. The trails had it all, nice flats, rolling hills, lakes and even a small summit view. Even though the trail system is in chalet country, you will not find the country houses obtrusive, and they do not take away from the feeling of being in nature.

Overnight Trail Considerations

La Mauricie National Park

Montreal’s nearest Canadian National Park, La Mauricie National Park, is a perfect spot for a two day getaway in the snow. They offer an interesting lodging in a 4 season mix between a tent and a cabin called Otentiks. For this experience alone, I would recommend a stay at La Mauricie National Park. The National Park has very nice snowshoeing trails throughout, with trails ranging from easy walks to more challenging, long and hill-ridden paths through the park. One thing to note is that as these trails are used as hiking trails in the summer, do not be surprised to encounter stairs in the middle of the trail.


Parc National de la Jacques-Cartier

Another park that is some distance from Montreal, but definitely worth an overnight stay is Parc National De La Jacques-Cartier. The park is just north of Quebec City, so I would suggest a one or two night stay would do the park justice. Located along the valley of the Jacques-Cartier river, many of the trails lead to picturesque summits overlooking the valley. With an approximate 84km of trails, your bound to have an endless amount of fun out in the park. Like La Mauricie National Park, on depending which trail you take, you may encounter stairs. The stairs were virtually impassible with snowshoes on (though a little hors-piste seems doable, you may end up sliding down the section of mountain down to where the stairs ends, watch your step).


Take Away

There are probably only a few good weeks of winter left, as temperatures are on the rise but it doesn’t mean you still can’t take advantage of the snow for a few more days of fun. If you’re in the Montreal region, and looking for a place for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, I would highly recommend taking a look at the Morin Heights trail network. It is close by, extensive and quiet. If your schedule allows for more time, head out a little further to La Mauricie or La Jacques-Cartier parks where large valleys and higher summits can be enjoyed!

Should You Try a Fatbike This Winter?

What Is a Fatbike?

First off what is Fatbiking? Fatbiking is the awesome act of riding bikes that have 4 inch + tires, and provide float on just about any riding surface. Not only does it feel and sound like a cross between pedal powered tank and a lunar rover, it is sure to put a smile on any rider’s face! Fatbikes have been around for quite a while now and I remember trying it out a few years back and instantly falling in love with it.

Where to Fatbike?

If you’re in the Montreal region, there are quite a few places where you can give it a try. Right now the city of Verdun has a great program going on called Verdun Actif, where they are offering free Fatbike rentals for an hour at a time a time at Parc Arthur-Therrien. They are also offering any other activities to try free of charge, such as skating, snowshoeing and “snow scooters” (though apparently this only for children).

Screen Shot 2019-02-25 at 10.54.46 AM.png

The Verdun Actif program will be taking place for only a few more weeks until March 10th and is available to anyone. Get yourself riding on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00-4:00 and throughout the March Break, March 4th-8th during the same hours. The park has a very limited number of bikes, but they have a large supply of cross country skis to try while you wait.

If city riding isn’t your thing and you’d like to get out more into the wild take a look at Sepaq’s offerings, there are many of the Quebec parks that offer Fatbike rentals.

Screen Shot 2019-02-25 at 1.56.27 PM.png

A quick look shows that the following parks offer rental services in the Montreal area:

  • Parc national d'Oka

  • Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville

  • Parc national du Mont-Saint-Bruno

  • Parc national du Mont-Tremblant

  • Parc national de la Yamaska

  • Parc national du Mont-Orford

I’d recommend showing up early to make sure you can rent the bike for as long you’d like, otherwise you may either have to cut your ride short or be stuck waiting for an available bike.

So Should you try a fatbike this winter?

Absolutely! Fatbiking has got to be one of the most fun and different winter activities there is. This weekend my girlfriend and I went to try it out for her first time and we had a blast! We decided to give the Verdun Actif program a try, and for novice Fatbikers there is no problem riding on the snow. My girlfriend had a great time and was smiling as we rode around the park.

I would have to recommend that if you are going to try it for your first time, be sure to check the weather before. Riding on ice is very doable, just mind sudden movements and you won’t slip or fall. Sleek and slush makes for a wet ride but who doesn’t love riding through a giant puddle? However, fresh packed snow is where Fatbikes excel at riding! If you can go out after a nice snowfall, it would be the best conditions to experience your first ride. Hope you have fun, let me know if you liked your Fatbike experience!