On a recent road trip to a new-product reveal, a group of Supertrax magazine and SnowTrax TV crew members were engaged in a deep conversation, narrowing down their top choices for ride destinations this coming season. The question had been posed: If you could go anywhere to ride snowmobiles, where would it be and why?
While the reason for their top choice varied, it didn’t take more than a hot minute before the unanimous choice was decided. As eloquently put by one of us: “For the diehard snowmobiler, no riding season is ever complete without a trip to Québec. It only takes one trip and you’ll be hooked for life.”
Many of our crew members have snowmobiled in Québec countless times – some going back to the 1980’s and 1990’s. As the conversation continued, the enthusiasm for the province as a world-class destination focused in on the attractions and amenities, we had all personally experienced in our travels to Québec.
First and foremost is the incredible network of snowmobile trails that interconnect every area. Luke said, “It doesn’t seem to matter where in the province you ride, the trails are always so well-groomed and so thoughtfully laid out. You can ride your snowmobile to almost any region and you’ll find wide, safe trails and it’s a rarity to ride a whole day and not see at least a couple of groomers out there hard at work.”
He added, “The scenery is flat-out awesome – there are places where you’re riding through rolling meadows and beautiful forests for miles and then you suddenly come up on a quaint village or first-class resort where you’d least expect it. I also love how diverse the terrain is throughout the province. I didn’t believe it until I experienced it first-hand. The Chic-Chocs offer technical deep snow riding rivaling the terrain in Western Canada and the United States, but at an elevation that doesn’t make it hard to catch your breath. Can you ask for anything better?”
AJ said: “I love the fact that Québec is so close in proximity. From where I live in Ontario, it’s only a day’s drive, yet once I cross the border into Québec and start immersing myself into its culture, I feel like I’m experiencing a worldly adventure – like being in Europe. You simply can’t replicate this type of experience anywhere else in North America, and, of course, you can’t find trails like the ones in Québec anywhere overseas”.
“We were impressed with the trail signage. We thought there might be a possibility the language could be a problem but there was zero trouble finding where we were or how far it was to our daily destinations. The local clubs aren’t the only ones that have signs at every intersection; local businesses, restaurants, fuel stations and places for overnight stays also do an incredibly good job of directing you to their place,” stated Vern.
Said longtime staffer, Mark: “I remember the first time I rode in Québec – it was in 1983 and the trails were better than anywhere else even back then. I sometimes wonder if the fact Québec is the home to the modern snowmobile as we know it today didn’t have something to do with the huge effort, they put into creating those 33,000 kms of trails and gaining a thorough understanding of the importance of maintaining them the way they always have.”
“I love the great food,” added another staffer, “and some of the places I’ve stayed overnight have been downright incredible – quaint places tucked back into the countryside with thoughtfully furnished rooms and fabulous dining. It’s really special to stay at places like that after you’ve been on the trails all day!”
During our conversation we soon discovered we were talking about a place that has it all: Great riding, great culture, great accommodation, and great snow! You could say: Riding in Québec is addictive!
We put together a list of some of Québec’s regions and winter tourist sites. When you’re planning a winter vacation these places need to be top-of-mind.
This is Québec’s most southwestern region and abuts the province of Ontario for many miles along its western border. Canadians can literally snowmobile from Ontario to Abitibi-Témiscamingue on wide, smooth-groomed trails. Because of its location, there is abundant snow cover and 3500 km of wide, high-quality trails.
It’s a more remote place to ride but incredibly beautiful because of its boreal forests in the north. This means the trees are pretty much all coniferous pines and firs there, growing to less height than you’d see further south in the province where the winter season is shorter.
The scenery is pure, natural and untouched and this is a very good place to see all kinds of wildlife. One thing is certain, you won’t get caught in any traffic jams – spaces are remote and wide open – and unforgettably beautiful!
Eeyou Istchee Baie-James
Eeyou Istchee Baie-James region reaches to Québec’s far north and, because of its far latitude location, it is a bucket-list destination for many snowmobilers who experience its remote, but immaculately-maintained trails carved out of the forests. It’s located in Québec’s uppermost northwestern corner and the all-natural scenery here is magnificent.
There’s a strong list of near-trail and on-trail services available for overnight stays, food, and snowmobile service. This region provides the snowmobiling “experience of a lifetime” and is a must-see location for the most adventurous snowmobile enthusiast.
It’s easy to access the Outaouais region’s wide, well-maintained trails because of its western location in the province and its proximity to both Ontario and New York State. This is a breathtaking place to ride a snowmobile! Its range of geography includes scenic valleys, rolling hills and meadows, lakes, woodlands and the opportunity to observe all kinds of northern wildlife.
You can cross from Ontario on your snowmobile at a bridge crossing onto Trail 13 or another bridge taking you onto Trail 43. We suggest you take Trans-Québec trail 43 and experience the smooth-groomed Pontiac Pacific railway trail (92 km), then check out Québec’s longest covered bridge (Marchand Covered Bridge) and – still accessible from Trail 43 – the picturesque Chutes Coulange waterfall.
Right next to the Outaouais is the Laurentians region. Located in such close proximity to major population centers means trail maintenance is meticulous and frequent by the local snowmobile club volunteers. The big news this year is a new 21-meter-high observation tower has been built at the top of the famous Montagne du Diable (Devil’s Mountain) and is open this winter.
An 11-passenger shuttle is available to take visitors to the summit. You’ll find the trails here are well-signed and you’ll never be far from a town or village where you can dine or stay overnight. Hospitality is the hallmark of the inns, hotels and resorts here and you’ll always feel welcome. You can put in a full day and, after riding literally hundreds of miles, have a delicious meal in quaint, warm fireside surroundings, then fall into a cozy bed for the night.
Lanaudière & Mauricie
Since Lanaudière is located only about two hours north of Montréal – and close to Québec City – it’s easy to drive there from both Ontario and the USA. There’s an abundance of inns and resorts that will safely store your vehicle for you while you head out on your snowmobile adventure. Many riders starting here, plan their trip to include both Lanaudière and, heading northeast, visit the Mauricie. There are a number of independent tour companies that will guide you – some will even provide rental snowmobiles. Both of these vast regions offer incredible scenery and legendary wide, safe trails.
Accommodations range from luxurious to rustic and these may be two of the busiest snowmobiling regions in the province. Because of that, trail grooming is done frequently, and you can be assured of excellent riding. Be sure to ride the Pioneers Trail. It’s a one-of-a-kind tour where you’ll observe headstones representing builders of the region. The route will take you to picturesque sites where you’ll discover the region’s heritage and meet a proud and welcoming population.
Québec City Region
This region, surrounding the major city of Québec, has all the comforts close at hand. There’s a long list of quality, cozy hotels, B&B’s and inns along loop routes heading out from the city. Epicurean? Who isn’t! This is where you’ll find in both European and Québec-style cuisine. Because of its unique charm, Old Québec has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. This international accolade is bestowed on only a few places around the world and is evident from the moment you arrive in the city. If you need a snowmobile rental or guide service for both short and long treks, you can get it here, too. Québec City also hosts several large winter festivals, so if you’re planning your trip, make sure your dates coincide with one of these grand events.
Charlevoix region, because of its unique location bordering the St. Lawrence River along its southern edge, offers some of the most breathtaking views imaginable. Not only are the trails designed to be coastal, but there’s the magnificent experience of riding in the mountains, too. Located centrally, Charlevoix is easily accessible from the USA and there’s easy entry for Canadians from both the eastern provinces and from Ontario. You can tour this region on one of many loop routes, some coming from major population centers, or experience Charlevoix on your way through it as part of a longer trans-Québec snowmobile adventure. Innumerable overnight and food establishments are situated along the way! The Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu will be a must-stay for snowmobilers. This huge 5-star hotel features a heated garage, river view, several restaurants, a full range of activities at the hotel, heated outdoor pools, spa, and much more.
If you keep heading east through Charlevoix, you’ll enter the southernmost boundary of Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean. It’s well worth extending your ride, both for bragging rights and for the experience of riding the region’s incredible trail network. Although the land mass in this region is huge, thirteen snowmobile clubs work diligently to groom and maintain this remote trail system. The snowfall is deep and plentiful… and that is paramount to excellent trail grooming!
The season is longer here, often extending into April, so a later season trip, if planned, is unlikely to disappoint. It’s not just about the snowfall, either. Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean offers incredible natural scenery and not just a few vistas (one being Saguenay Fjord), you’ll be remembering for decades. Another “can’t miss” is Mount Apica Viewpoint, part of the Mont-Apica Loop, an extremely beautiful 7-km trail offering incredible scenery at an elevation of over 400 meters.
Centre-du-Québec is close to large population centers and because it’s located south of the St. Lawrence River, it’s easy to get to, especially from the United States. Since the population is denser in this region, there are plenty of overnight, service and food establishments, many directly accessible by snowmobile. A view of the St. Lawrence River from the Ô Quai des Brasseurs microbrewery in Bécancour is especially memorable. The clubs and organizations that do the region’s impeccable trail maintenance have also designed a number of shorter loop rides – a “daisy wheel” – of well-signed trails that can be as little as one day or several days long if you wish, branching out from your starting point.
Chaudière-Appalaches region is located south of the St. Lawrence and borders the American states of New Hampshire and Vermont. If touring snowmobilers are arriving from these states, it makes good sense for them to plan a trip that would include riding both in this region and in Centre-du-Québec because both adjoin one another. Visitors will be rewarded with a wonderful system of well-signed, interconnected and looping trails that not only take in the region’s numerous sights but offer progression to the adjoining region of Bas-Saint-Laurent to the east.
With 5 must-see attractions, the snowmobile junction between Trails #547 and #549 is breathtaking! You won’t soon forget this section between Mont du Midi and Mont Saint-Magloire. So beautiful, you’ll want to stop everywhere along the way! There are many excellent loop trails branching out from the towns and villages here and there are vast numbers of beautiful inns and resorts – so Chaudière-Appalaches is a perfect place for all levels of riders would like to check out the attractions and scenery of a truly beautiful place.
Québec by the Sea
These three unique regions are linked together by ferry-crossings of the St. Lawrence River. Côte-Nord, sits north of the St. Lawrence and reaches far and wide, bordering Labrador to the east. Trails here are very good, are well-marked and, especially in the southern part along the big river, offer incredible vistas. The furthest point east and south of the St. Lawrence, is the huge region of Gaspésie.
Here you’ll experience unforgettable sea and mountain views. The terrain is rugged and rocky but the excellent snow cover offers some of the most picturesque trails in Québec and the trails are well signed and meticulously maintained. Snowmobilers visiting Gaspésie need to see Percé Rock. It’s an iconic landmark and is especially impressive in the winter when it’s surrounded by ice. Made famous by its arch-shaped hole carved out by the sea, this giant limestone monolith has fascinated people for centuries.
To get to Percé Rock, ride the Bas-Saint-Laurent – Gaspésie Snowmobile Tour, on Trans-Québec trail #5 to the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula, then take the 18-km (11-mi.) local trail to the village of Percé. Bas-Saint-Laurent is located to the west of Gaspésie, still south of the St. Lawrence River. All three regions of Québec by the Sea offer true Québec-style accommodations and hospitality – plus unforgettable scenery and riding experiences you can only see from the seat of a snowmobile!
4 EASY STEPS FOR PLANNING A SNOWMOBILE TRIP IN QUÉBEC
Check out Bonjour Québec’s website to find Québec’s most iconic trails: bonjourquebec.com
- Plan your itinerary and make your reservations!
Québec has thousands of kilometers of interconnected trails to explore. Use this tool to map out your trip, complete with must-visit sightseeing spots and accommodations along the way: fcmq.qc.ca
- Get ready to ride!
A trail permit is essential to ride a snowmobile in Québec, no matter how long the trip is. Easily get yours online now so you’re ready to ride as soon as the trails open. fcmq.qc.ca
- Stay informed in real time!
Easily access trail maps, get updates on trail conditions, accommodations and more through one convenient app. Download this app: fcmq.qc.ca
- Ride the right way!
The best way to keep snowmobiling fun and safe for everyone is by respecting your fellow riders and following this code of conduct. fcmq.qc.ca
If you’re not hooked on Québec by now, you certainly will be after you’ve ridden its trails this winter. Plan a trip this year and you’ll be visiting again every year – guaranteed!