Traveling at home, not that boring!
By Claudia Matteau
To you who’s in serious need of escape, to you who’s only waiting for the end of this health crisis to discover new places, know that not very far from your hometown (in your own region!) hides a sublime mountain, a magnificent hiking trail, a beautiful cross-country ski trail, an icy lake where it’s possible to skate, a small hill to slide, a dense forest, a snowy park...
We, travelers and adventurers at heart, often feel that we have to go to unknown and distant places to make discoveries, to thrive, when so close to us lie places that are just as breathtaking. Every day, we walk past them without really realizing how our Quebec is full of options to satisfy our thirst for discovery.
It’s with this in mind that with all the precautions in the world, I set off on an adventure in the Laurentians region. Let me tell you, it’s quite an aria to go exploring in the heart of the Quebec winter. Am I dressed enough? Yes, but not too much. Are my boots warm enough? Don't forget the extra socks!
With all of my accessories gathered, and after a couple of researches, I am planning two outdoor activities that will allow me to experience the same feelings that we seek when we are traveling, in my case: wonder and surpassing ourselves.
Mount Nixon in winter
First, I drive straight to the Mont Nixon trailhead in Mont-Tremblant National Park. Access fees correspond to the regular rate of the SEPAQ network and are payable online before departure.
With a 9.1 km length, the Mount Nixon Trail forms a beautiful loop just long enough to feel the tingling in your legs as you reach the final miles. It must be said that even if the mountain is not the highest in Quebec, it still rises to 675m above sea level. At the top, a magnificent panorama awaits you peacefully. In the background, we can see the well-known north slope of Mont-Tremblant. Around stretches a forest of pines and firs covered with a thick layer of white snow. This view is very typical of our region, isn't it? Although we are used to it, we never get tired of such beauty!
The summit of Mount Nixon is not your only chance to admire the Laurentians region from above. The path clears several times over the neighboring mountains giving space to drastic and impressive viewpoints.
The use of winter crampons is not absolutely necessary but will be of great benefit to you. You can also make the trip with a snowshoe or simply with a boot, like in summer! This last option will be more difficult physically, however, since there is ice in some places.
Le p’tit train du nord, nature and Quebec culture
Did you know that in the Laurentians region, there’s the longest linear park in Canada? This 234 km multifunctional trail crisscrosses the region to the delight of outdoor enthusiasts. Cyclable in summer, the trail turns into one of the most impressive cross-country ski trails in the province in winter. It’s at the height of the Val-Morin village that I put on my cross-country skis to finally go and see the extent of this attractive tourist facility.
This park section offers very flat relief, allowing everyone to engage in winter sports. By the way, there are certainly skiers there, but we also meet walkers and ice fishermen because of the proximity of Lake Raymond.
It was very slowly that I fell into the trap of always wanting to move forward a little more. It was so pretty; I could not stop. Another kilometer, a few more steps; I won't hide the fact that every turn was sparkling despite the thick gray clouds that dot the sky.
Cross-country skiing in the Laurentians is breathtaking, especially since this place has a fascinating history. If you've lived in Quebec for a while, you know (or at least you've heard about) the great story of the "P'tit Train du Nord", recounted among others in the hit show "Les Pays d'en Haut” broadcast on Radio Canada for several years.
If this story does not awaken any memories to you, know that historically it’s about a railway that linked Montreal to Mont-Laurier. Built at the end of the 1800s to promote the colonization of villages at north of Montreal, it was in service until 1980 when it was ended. Today, the "P’tit Train du Nord" trail connects Laval to Saint-Jérôme, then climbs in the Laurentians, to Mont-Laurier.
Winter in Quebec, approved!
Whether it’s the Laurentians, the Eastern Townships, the Mauricie or any of our province's 20 tourist regions, each of them presents unique aspects, an interesting history and a lot of activities that showcases our beautiful Quebec.
Is it possible to travel at home, to marvel at magnificent landscapes, to discover the history of your own territory? ABSOLUTELY!
Don't hesitate to explore your region!