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5 best winter huts in Quebec and Ontario

SAIL

October 18, 2022

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5 best winter huts

During the winter, most of us are guilty of choosing the warmth and comfort of home over venturing out into the cold outdoors. But if, like the SAIL team, you are yearning for fresh air and an opportunity to completely disconnect from the modern world, away from TV or any cell signal, spending the night in a winter hut may be just the ticket. Whether you are hiking a trail alone, or taking the family out on a short winter escape, here is our selection of the five best winter huts to stay at in Quebec and Ontario.

In this article, you will find out more about:

  1. The main features of winter huts
  2. The one with the view: Refuge Liguori (Quebec)
  3. The upscale one: Antoine-Dubuc Lodge (Quebec)
  4. The starry one: Refuge des Pèlerins, Parc national du Mont-Mégantic (Quebec)
  5. The accessible one: Mew Lake Camp cabins, Algonquin Park (Ontario)
  6. The family one: Arrowhead Camp cabins, Arrowhead Park (Ontario)
  7. A few pro tips

The main features of winter huts

Campers opting to spend the night in a winter hut get the best of both worlds: a comfortable, warm refuge while exploring the great outdoors. However, first-timers should know what to expect when sleeping in a hut, yurt, or cabin. While they vary in size and layout, most of them offer the same basic facilities: a bed, a wood stove and dry toilets outside. Wood and basic furniture are provided, but there aren’t always water points nearby. Also, some huts are located on well-developed campgrounds and can be driven to, while others are more isolated and can only be reached on foot. It’s important to note that some winter huts are community-style, which means beds are rented on an individual basis. Therefore, unless your party has booked the entire hut, other hikers may join you. Which represents a perfect opportunity to meet fellow outdoor enthusiasts, and have interesting conversations around the campfire.

The one with the view: Refuge Liguori (Quebec)

The Sentier des Caps is a popular Quebec destination for snowshoers and winter hikers. Known for its multi-day scenic hiking trails, it features warming huts at several key points along the journey. However, the Sentier des Caps could prove a scary enterprise for first-time winter campers, which is why staying at the Refuge Liguori is a wonderful way to discover the area without committing to a multi-day thru-hike. Located a short distance from the start of the trail, the hut offers the most breathtaking view over the St. Lawrence River, and can be used as a stopover as part of a longer hike, or as a base as you explore other shorter, looping paths. Just grab some snowshoes or a good pair of winter cleats, and enjoy the peaceful sight of the winter fog rising over the river first thing in the morning.

  • Capacity: 10 people
  • Beds: double beds
  • Distance from the start of the trail: 3 km from the Charlevoix welcoming area, atop the Massif de Charlevoix
  • How to access it: hiking or snowshoeing
  • More info: https://www.sentierdescaps.com

The upscale one: Antoine-Dubuc Lodge (Quebec)

Many hikers will have heard of the Vallée des Fantômes, famous for its snow-covered trees which look like either ghosts or mummies, depending on whom you ask. Either way, the winter scenery in the Parc national des Monts-Valin is worth sticking around for a few days. There are several winter huts available throughout the park, none as luxurious as the Antoine-Dubuc lodge. The upscale, newly renovated log cabin features two dining/living rooms (one of which even features a fireplace), as well as a fully equipped kitchen and two bathrooms. Talk about luxury! There is a beautiful view over the Baie d’Alexis and the lodge is the perfect place from which to explore the Vallée, either on snowshoes or cross-country skis.

  • Capacity: 8 people
  • Beds: single beds
  • Distance from the start of the trail: 10 km
  • How to access it: Snowcat shuttle ($), snowshoes or backcountry skis
  • More info: https://www.sepaq.com/pq/mva/index.dot#Item47214cfd-da10-43e4-8109-49e7f42987ba

The starry one: Refuge des Pèlerins, Parc national du Mont-Mégantic (Quebec)

refuge des pelerins - AN

Photo Credits: @annieexplore

Thanks to its observatory, the Parc national du Mont-Mégantic is already known as a stargazing destination of choice. But those hoping to marvel at the stars without the help of a telescope can head up to the Refuge des Pèlerins, a winter hut perched high enough (965 m) that on a clear day, it offers a spectacular view over both the park and the night sky above it. There is a bit of a hike to access the hut, but visitors have a choice between a three-kilometre trail (departing from the Observatoire area) and a 10.8-kilometre trail (departing from the Franceville sector). What better reward after a cold hike than to settle into a comfortable chair with a blanket and a pair of binoculars to relax and observe the starry sky.

  • Capacity: 8 people
  • Beds: two rooms, each with two double bunk beds
  • Distance from the start of the trail: 3 km from the Discovery and Visitors Centre (Observatoire sector) or 10.8 km from the Visitors Centre located in the Franceville sector
  • How to access it: snowshoeing or hiking
  • More info: https://www.sepaq.com/pq/mme/annexes/tableau_heb_refuges.dot

The accessible one: Mew Lake Camp cabins, Algonquin Park (Ontario)

crosscountry skiingAlgonquin Park is an iconic Ontario landmark, widely known for its vast wilderness. But fear not, the area isn’t out of reach after the first snowfall and the park can still be enjoyed throughout the winter. With its many well-groomed hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails, it has something to offer most winter sports enthusiasts. And those hoping to spend a bit of time exploring the many trails available can do so from the cabins located at the Mew Lake Campground. The campground is available year-round, and cabins can be accessed by car for those who want to conserve their energy for the multitude of outdoor pursuits that awaits them at the park!

  • Capacity: 5 people
  • Beds: one queen bed and one single over double bunk bed
  • How to access it: by car
  • More info: https://www.algonquinpark.on.ca/visit/camping/camp-cabins-in-algonquin-park.php

The family one: Arrowhead Camp cabins, Arrowhead Park (Ontario)

Algonquin is an area that’s already well-known by winter sports enthusiasts, who regularly flock to the park for a spot of cross-country skiing, ice skating or snowshoeing through its wide snow-covered forest. However, some may be happy to hear that children also love the park for its sledging slopes, and popular 15-kilometre ice skating trail (commonly known as the Fire and Ice trail). Winter campers looking for a family-friendly escape can find everything they are looking for at Arrowhead: well-groomed trails, fun for the kids and a warm hut to recover after a day playing in the snow. Stay at one of the campground’s 13 cabins, each of them accessible by car and equipped with a small kitchenette. The cabins are a short walk away from a heated comfort station and water point. Head there for a spot of ice fishing or winter bird watching, take on the Fire and Ice trail on your skates, or make some hot chocolate while you warm up back at your cabin.

  • Capacity: 5 people
  • Beds: one queen bed and one single over double bunk bed
  • How to access it: by car
  • More info: https://www.ontarioparks.com/roofedaccommodation/campcabins/arrowhead-camp-cabins

A few pro tips

Book your spot in advance as beds fill up quickly. However, reservations for the upcoming season may not be open yet, so make sure you note down the date when they will open for your chosen winter hut.
Some parks may offer a baggage transportation service (for a fee), so you have the option to hike to your destination without carrying your overnight gear.
Dog owners should check if dogs are permitted as not all huts allow pets.

If you’d like to take up winter camping, read more about it in our article on everything you need to know about winter camping.

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