Top Places for Snowshoeing
Whether with traditional rawhide snowshoes or more modern equipment, snowshoeing continues to be a popular way to spend time outdoors. With your snowshoes strapped on tight, you’ll have hundreds of kilometres of marked trails to explore in the Québec City area.
*Note for winter 2020-2021: As with most activities this year, our best advice is to verify the information directly on the site of the business of your choice before going there. You may need to book in advance, and some services may not be offered, such as equipment rental and access to shelters. At all times, respect a minimum distance of 2 meters between people who do not live under the same roof as you, as well as the instructions in effect on site.*
Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier
This vast mountain plateau riven by plunging valleys is the perfect place for snowshoeing. There are also multiple types of winter camping on offer (yurts, permanent tents, huts, etc.) if you want to stay the night. Plus, not only is it easy to get to by car, there’s even a shuttle service that runs there every day from Old Québec (not in service in winter 2020-2021).
Sentier des Caps de Charlevoix
Sentier des caps de Charlevoix, Jean-Marie Grange
Running along a ridge that overlooks the St. Lawrence River, Sentiers des Caps de Charlevoix is a favourite with outdoorsy types. The trail runs along the ridge for some 50 km and is dotted with overnight huts, so you can even do a multi‑day trip! If you’re looking for a real winter hiking experience, this one’s for you.
Camp Mercier (Réserve faunique des Laurentides)
Sépaq - Réserve faunique des Laurentides
The excellent snow conditions at Camp Mercier make it a dream location for snowshoeing. The park offers more than 30 km of marked trails with beautiful views of the snow‑covered forest. Located less than an hour from Québec City, Camp Mercier is definitely worth the drive!
@charlesolivierbisson, Vallée Bras-du-Nord
Vallée Bras-du-Nord is an outdoor paradise located near the city of Saint‑Raymond. The park is known for its scenic beauty and the wide variety of trails. Whether you’re just starting out on your snowshoes or have many miles under your belt, you’ll find plenty of trails to suit your level of fitness and expertise. If you’d like to stay for a few days, there are numerous types of accommodation, including a charming yurt village.
Snowshoeing in the Heart of the City
The magnificent Plains of Abraham Park is a vast expanse of green that runs along the top of central Québec City. If you’re new to snowshoeing, this is the perfect place to give it a whirl. This iconic site offers entertainment and family fun in summer and winter. You can even go snowshoeing with a guide all dressed up for the occasion (not available in winter 2020-2021).
Snowshoeing Guided Tours
Snowshoeing with a guide allows you to explore the most beautiful areas, hassle-free. Several companies offer turnkey excursions from a few hours to several days. Quatre Natures takes you to the most beautiful trails of the Jacques-Cartier National Park while Québec Pure Expérience / Éco Plein air invite you to a snowshoeing & porto experience. Get off the beaten track with Expéditions Panorama and discover the trails of the Montagne à Deux Têtes, a mountain that is a well-kept secret in Sainte-Brigitte-de-Laval.
What to Wear and Equipment Required
Snowshoeing is a sport and, like every sport, it warms you up! As you walk through the forest, sheltered from the wind, you may even forget it’s cold out. That’s why you should dress in layers that you can take off as you warm up and put back on as you cool down. If you don’t have your own pair of snowshoes, most parks have a rental service.
Snowshoeing is a sport that everyone can enjoy. That being said, it’s important to check the level of difficulty of the trail you want to hike. Steep terrain, backcountry trails, and fresh snow can really increase the level of difficulty. If you’re unsure, ask park staff to help you pick a trail that’s right for you!
Best Time for Snowshoeing
To go snowshoeing, you of course need a good amount of snow. Since accumulation varies depending on latitude, places that are farther north like Forêt Montmorency and Camp Mercier have a longer season. There, it isn’t rare for winter hiking to start early in December and end in March or even April, depending on the weather.
As for what makes for ideal snowshoeing conditions, that’s up to you. Some people rush out to the forest with their snowshoes right after a storm or heavy snowfall, while others prefer to wait for the snow to get packed down by those eager beavers. Whatever you prefer, make the most of every dump of snow!