Our favorite destinations for snowshoeing

In winter, going for a hike after a beautiful snowfall is magical! With snowshoes strapped to our feet, we can venture into the powder snow up to the highest peaks. All around us, everything is white, the snow envelops us, and we breathe in the pure and fresh winter air. Whether you're a forest walker or looking for a sporting challenge, our destinations offer a wide range of circuits so you can better enjoy the winter scenery, based on your desired level of intensity. Here are some locations that are worth a visit, as well as some tips to enhance your next outing.

Jean-Sébastien Chartier-Plante | © Sépaq

1. Camp Mercier: hiking and pea soup

Located in Réserve faunique des Laurentides, less than an hour from Québec City, Camp Mercier offers over 33 km of trails for snowshoers. With its exceptional snow conditions, varied trails, and spectacular scenery, it’s the perfect place to plan a great day of hiking with family and friends.

While novices will be satisfied with a few kilometres of flat terrain, more experienced snowshoers will be able to reach magnificent lookouts, one of which reaches an altitude of 1,000 metres. 

Tip: At the end of the day, don't rush back home! Instead, take advantage of the food services at the new Camp Mercier to relax for a while. Enjoy a tasty beer from La Souche microbrewery or try the famous homemade pea soup, which, rumour has it, is worth the trip all by itself.

2. The Chic-Chocs: pushing your limits

Are you in tiptop physical shape and like to take on sporting challenges? With its many peaks and impressive lookouts, Parc national de la Gaspésie is the ideal playground for hardy snowshoers. From the discovery centre, you can climb Mont Olivine, an 11.4 km trail with a height difference of 445 metres. The effort you put in will be greatly rewarded, as the view from the summit is simply breathtaking.

For people who want to make their trip to the region really pay off and to stay for a few extra days, the trails of Réserve faunique des Chic-Chocs also offer majestic views of the territory. Right at the entrance of the wildlife reserve, Mont-Hog's-Back trail (6 km round trip) is a must in winter. 

Tip: You can discover the Chic-Chocs alpine environment by snowshoeing with a guide thanks to the activities offered by the Gaspésie Mountain School.

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3. Vallée de la Jacques-Cartier: a fairyland awaits you

A mere 30 minutes from Québec City, Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier is a favorite destination for winter hiking enthusiasts. With its network of 13 snowshoeing trails, totaling nearly 94 km, this park offers a host of options for walkers of all stripes.

To take advantage of the enchanting scenery, you can follow Rivière Jacques-Cartier, which flows through the heart of the valley, by taking Les Cascades (4 km loop) or La Rivière-Cachée (3.3 km loop). To admire the breathtaking views at higher elevations, you’ll want to hike Les Loups (7.8 km round trip) or L'Escarpement (11.2 km loop). Our favorite for a short but vigorous hike? L'Éperon trail, located near the park entrance: a beautiful 5.4 km loop that will lead you to a superb lookout.

Tip: Think you have to dress extra warmly for winter hiking? Well, think again. Remember that when you walk on snowshoes, especially if there’s a substantial difference in altitude, you naturally warm up after about 15 minutes. Use the multi-layer technique and opt for apparel made of synthetic fibres, such as fleece or polyester, which are known to breathe well and dry quickly. If you have a merino wool sweater, now’s the time to get it out.

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4. The ultimate experience: snowy ghosts

The large amounts of snow that fall each winter in Parc national des Monts-Valin make it one of the most beautiful snowshoeing destinations in Québec. The generous snowfall on the mountain creates "ghosts" at various locations in the park and, at an altitude of over 900 m, the ice formed on the trees makes them look like frosted "mummies." In the heart of the Vallée des Fantômes (valley of the ghosts), you can hike a 3 km intermediate trail, while climbing 320 m to the top of Dubuc peak. From there, the view of the region is sure to blow you away.

If you’re interested in the experience, don't delay, as access to Vallée-des-Fantômes trail (6.5 km round trip, with a 330 m climb) requires using the Fantôme Express shuttle, which must be booked well in advance.

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Équipement de longue randonnée en hiver (Guêtres)

Tip: When you go for a hike in the powder, gaiters can be useful. This little bit of gear will cover your lower leg and the top of your winter boot, preventing snow from getting into your footwear, soaking your feet and pants. Gaiters aren’t essential but can be mighty practical.

If you don't have any, they can be rented at most discovery and visitors centres at our destinations, where you can also rent snowshoes, crampons (cleats), and walking sticks. And for young people 17 and under, equipment rental is always absolutely free of charge.

5. Fjord-du-Saguenay: a knockout in winter

Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay is as sublime in winter as it is in summer. Cut off from the wind by the mountains and cliffs, the vast carpet of white snow that covers its trails offers a superb snowshoeing experience. We suggest exploring Les Caps trail circuit via Anse-de-Tabatière (8.6 km round trip) to reach a magnificent peak overlooking the fjord.

Tip: Snowshoeing is a physically demanding activity. To keep your energy level up throughout the day, always bring along nutritious snacks. Here are some great ideas for snacks to stick in your backpack in the winter when the weather’s really nippy . No more hard-as-a-rock candy bars ever again!

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6. Mont-Tremblant: a well kept secret

Less known than the very popular de la Diable sector, the Pimbina-Saint-Donat sector of Parc national du Mont-Tremblant is a well-kept secret for snowshoeing enthusiasts. More than 25 km of trails await you, including the famous L'Envol trail (a not-too- extenuating 4.6 km round trip), which leads to Chute aux Rats, the waterfall jewel of the region. For those who wish to take on a sporting challenge, Mont-des-Cascades trail (8.8 km) is a very difficult loop where you can expend a considerable amount of energy and push your limits to the hilt.

Tip: While in the region, many snowshoers take the opportunity to make their pleasure last and stay a night or two at the foot of the snowshoe trails. Compact and Nature cabins are perfect little nests to enjoy a weekend in the great outdoors.

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The annual card: a winning purchase

If you love snowshoeing and are planning to visit several national parks this year, the Annual Québec National Parks Card is a worthwhile purchase indeed. This card gives you unlimited access to all of the province's national parks and offers exclusive advantages as well.

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