To enjoy Winter, there's nothing better than to disappear in our beloved nature with your snowboard / splitboard and to float at high speed on a thick layer of powdery snow going down a virgin and deserted mountain. Too good to be true? Not at all! We got everything we need for this kind of expedition right here at home! Here are 5 Quebec Backcountry destinations that are definitely worth a visit.
The Réserve Faunique des Chic Chocs
Talking about backcountry snowboarding in Quebec without mentioning the Chic Chocs Wildlife Reserve is like a cake without toppings… It's a bit dry. About ten hours away from Montreal, Chic Chocs is a heavenly place where there is no shortage of snow during the Winter! Bringing together a wide variety of mountains and locations, fresh pow is always there (even sometimes weeks after a storm). It’s easy, the Chic Chocs territory has everything to turn your next snowboarding adventure into a real dream.
Up to 500m of elevation and nearly 150 listed descents scattered over several peaks such as Mont Lyall, Mont McGerrigle and several others all the way to Murdochville. Possibilities are endless and the nature is on point.
Another cool thing about this place is that once you're in the region, you got choice when it comes to potential day destinations. Those who prefer the great outdoors will love the vast snow fields of the Grande Cuve on Mt. Albert or on Mt. Vallières in Saint-Réal. Adrenaline enthusiasts will have fun hitting the slopes of Mont Lyall or the steep corridors of the Mur des Patrouilleurs on Mont Albert. There are many possibilities all around the Chic-Chocs, as much for new initiates as for experienced riders. For us, it’s a must every Winter.
Jacques Cartier National Park
Unlike the Chic Chocs region, the Jacques Cartier National Park is a fairly visited spot, probably due to its proximity to Quebec City, which is only about a 30 minutes drive away. That being said, we think it's an advantage because even if you can get there pretty fast from the city, the place still offers breathtaking landscapes and extraordinary backcountry snowboarding possibilities!
With the popularity of touring and back country, Jacques Cartier National Park has developed this side of the sport on its frozen valley. Two areas of the Park are accessible, totaling 150 hectares of snowboarding playground divided in two sites: the Belleau (the larger of the two) and the Matteucie. The Belleau sector offers a playground of over 100 hectares and an altitude of 300 meters. The sector is accessible from the parking lot of the Discovery and Visitors Center by crossing the Belleau bridge.
Located 7 km away, the Matteucie is a bit further from the park and is, in our opinion, the most interesting side. Filled with mature birch trees, a wild environment and a constantly increasing slope, this is a fun one. Covering 50 hectares (0.5 km2) of land, the area has an elevation of 330 meters and, despite its proximity to the city, offers everything that an adventure on the road less traveled needs to be successful.
Now, let’s move on to the Saguenay Lac-Saint-Jean region to check out Mont Edouard. Believe us, the place is worth a visit. The slopes of Mont Sacré-Coeur, Vallée des Géants and La Grive offer everything you need for an unforgettable backcountry experience.
Mont Sacré-Coeur is perfect for learning the basics of backcountry riding. Opened in the Fall of 2014, this was Mount Edouard’s first spot for backcountry riding. It offers an intermediate level of difficulty with its 200m elevation. An ascent of 30 minutes is enough to reach the top and the proximity of the station and the connection to its other routes also makes it an ideal terrain to get familiar with your new backcountry gear.
About a 45 minutes ascent after the Sacré-Coeur sector, you’ll find yourself in the Valley of the Giants. This one is more like a real outdoors adventure. Providing a great mix of wider tracks and wooded patches, this slope is a challenge, but also an opportunity to submerge yourself in a luxuriant nature with rich biodiversity. An advanced-intermediate level is preferable if you want to take full advantage of this slope
Finally, Mont Edouard’s latest baby: La Grive. Located on Mont Laure-Gaudreault, whose summit is higher than the actual Mont-Édouard, the Grive sector is created for adrenaline junkies only! With an elevation of 301 meters and steep, powdery slopes, this part of Mont Edouard will please you if you’re looking for extreme sensations.
On the edge of the Eastern Townships, on the border of New Hampshire, Vermont and Quebec, lies the magnificent Mont Hereford region. Faced with the growing demand for backcountry riding, the place is now offering two routes where beginners and advanced backcountry riders can shred as they please.
Two separate spots have been developed; The Versant des Trois Dames and the Versant Des Piment. Accessible from the top of Mount Hereford, the Trois Dames slope offers 250 meters of intermediate-expert deep snow riding. The view from the top is epic. Up there, you can see the Mount Orford, Sutton, Mégantic, Jay Peak and even Mount Washington. You can access the Trois Dames side by the Neil-Tillotson trail, also used by snowshoe enthusiasts. The ascent takes approximately 1 hour 30 minutes and is 5 kilometers long.
The Versant des Piments is a 200m long slope and is accessible from the parking lot with a shorter ascension time (about 30 minutes). You can shred this one repeatedly using the ascent track located east of the ski area or do it right after Trois Dames by following the access trail (3 kilometers) which allows you to reach the Versant des Piments, for a total of 450 meters in elevation.
If you didn't already know, Mont Sutton has been offering backcountry type options on its territory for a few years, but in a real Resort kind of environment, making it an ideal place to get started with the joys of backcountry snowboarding. The resort offers two good touring option, both perfect for getting initiated in backcountry riding while still getting a memorable experience.
The first option is the best one and most accessible for novice riders. The route up the "Yum-Yum" track is ideal for familiarizing yourself with your equipment and to learn the steps when climbing up the mountain. Once at the top, you can choose to hit the regular tracks or get lost in the beautiful glades, up to you!
The second option is a little more difficult. Follow Sutton’s touring trail that runs along the "Paisible" track and continue on the ascent on this designated path that goes through the woods. Once the ascent is complete, you can choose the option that suits you best: Large spaces with powdery snow, messy woods or even a regular trail if you feel like chilling.
If you're from the Montreal area and looking to experiment with your new splitboard, learn how to set up properly for a good ascent or just wondering what it feels to shred some backcountry type terrain, Sutton is a great option.