Quebec City is not just for Carnival

Author: [ trailpeak ]   Contact Author: trailpeakThu Feb 12 18:17:57 UTC 2015

Quebec city has many marvels, and in winter time it's their famous winter Carnival. This year, editors were in Quebec city to see winter in it's finest, check out the sculptures and exhibits on the Plains of Abraham, the ISSF world Championships of snowshoeing, and explore some new XC ski stops in the region.(img left: Station Duchesnay XC ski resort).

If one can withstand about -30C, a walking tour of Quebec city during Carnival has many attractions, especially the old city and it's french cafes. But it's the professionally carved ice sculptures dotting the city like Bonhommes Ice Castle, and, nearby the 'Game of Thrones' ice throne that complete the winter wonderland! There are dozens more. This is the cold and snowy winter we grew up with!

On the opening Saturday, we were on hand to take in the ISSF World Championships of snowshoeing. An urban race course on the Plains of Abraham with some hills to climb. Some may balk at snowshoe racing, as snowhoeing allows for aimless wandering in deep snow to get away from it all. But after watching these athletes, and the particular skills they possess, I realized it's a sport unto it's own. Click for our coverage of the ISSF World Championship.

The goal (apart from Carnival) however, was to cross-country ski local groomed ski networks and report on them. Your options for XC skiing in and around Quebec city are numerous. In the city, you'll find many locals on the groomed trails of the Plains of Abraham getting their fix for a few hours.

But the real gems for XC skiing are places like Station Duchesnay, about 30 minutes off Hwy #40 on your way back from Quebec city (stay for the day or stayover in their 4-star resort, note: the image above is their historic XC ski center, not the resort accomodation). A short stop here gave us an introduction to the 50km skate and classic ski trails. These trails are exceptionally well maintained by SEPAQ, and, you can rent skis there. Ski passes are free if you stay over. I'd like to return and complete their new summit trail, designed for advanced skiers, with considerable elevation gain and drop.

In the Quebec city region, you also have Mte. Ste Anne, well known for it's XC ski racing and 225km network of trails, and also in the one hour range from Quebec city, the Camp Mercier trails with 190km to explore. Going further north of Quebec, you have the Charlevoix hut ski network for spectacular scenery and wilderness (Back-country skiing).

Aafter skiing Station Duchesnay on the way back, we drove only 3 hours (to break up the drive east) and stopped over for the night in St-Sauveur just north of Montreal. Here you find two local ski networks that are worth a visit, including the P'etit train du Norde, which, as you can imagine, is a converted rail line that you can follow for about 50km of groomed classic and skate trail in winter.

Quebec has seemingly limitless XC ski options, many are on trailpeak. Another favourite is Papineau Labelle for ungroomed and rugged hut skiing, Mont Tremblant for groomed XC skiing, the Gatineau Park for possibly the best groomed network in Quebec, and much more. But Quebec city, just that little bit further away, has the European feel, and it has Carnival. You can create a unique winter vacation by combining a visit there and exploring some world class XC ski networks nearby.

Kurt - Trailpeak

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