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Outdoor Activities | February 22, 2024
October 25, 2023
The sight of snow, the crisp chill in the air, and the clear blue skies make you want to step outside and get moving? Why not plan a cross-country skiing excursion? Whether you prefer to ski alone, in pairs or with your whole family, Quebec and Ontario are full of wonderful destinations where you can glide through the winter snow. Here are a few of our favourite spots for cold-weather outdoor fun, some close to the city and some deep in the woods.
In this article, you will discover 8 of the best destinations for cross-country skiing in Quebec and Ontario:
Camp Mercier is a popular cross-country ski centre set in the heart of Réserve Faunique des Laurentides. It is known for its top-quality trails and exceptional snow conditions that often allow skiers to enjoy the sport well into April. Sitting on a high-altitude plateau, Camp Mercier offers a picturesque network of trails winding through the boreal forest, which is particularly stunning when blanketed in fresh snow. Skiers can glide over 70 linear kilometres of trails specifically designed for cross-country skiing – 50 km for classical style and 20 km for skating – and then cozy up in a brand new chalet that’s both modern and comfortable.
Located just a short 30-minute drive from the City of Québec, Station Touristique Duchesnay is an ideal destination to enjoy cross-country skiing without having to travel too far. The site features 50 km of linear cross-country ski trails divided into several circuits (35.7 km for classical style and 25 km for skating), all supervised by Canadian Ski Patrol volunteers. With a variety of family-friendly trails and more challenging courses to choose from, novice and experienced skiers alike have plenty of options to explore in the beautiful wooded area bordering Lac Saint-Joseph. Good to know: Guests staying at Auberge Duchesnay or one of the 14 new Oxygène chalets have free access to the cross-country ski trails!
Take a look at our complete guide on cross-country skiing techniques and equipment.
Located in the beautiful Mont-Tremblant area, Domaine Saint-Bernard is part of an 80-kilometre network of cross-country ski trails dedicated to both classical and skating styles. The Domaine itself features 32 km of trails through a stunning, mature forest. For those who want to learn the basics of cross-country skiing or improve their skills, the Domaine is home to the region’s only cross-country skiing school, and it also offers equipment rentals and several lodging options. After a few hours on the ski trails, skiers can take a well-deserved break and warm up in a heated refuge or by a crackling fire in the rest area.
Are you a beginner in cross-country skiing and need advice on selecting the right classic skis and basic equipment? Find all the information you need in our blog article.
Parc National du Mont-Saint-Bruno hardly needs an introduction, but it’s worth highlighting the 35 km of mechanically groomed cross-country ski trails available there in winter (27 km for classical style and 8 km for skating). The circuits are suitable for both beginners and experienced skiers, and other winter activities like snowshoeing, fatbike, and sledding can complement a day spent outdoors after a run on the trails. Night skiing is also possible until 9 p.m. on certain evenings (depending on snow conditions).
Gatineau Park, just outside Ottawa, is one of Canada’s most extensive cross-country ski networks, featuring more than 200 kilometres of groomed trails for both classical style and skating, as well as backcountry trails. Trail difficulty levels range from easy to very difficult. Skiers can avoid the crowds at the busiest sites by using one of the 15 parking lots available across the park to put on their skis and start their outing. The quality of the trails never disappoints; they are groomed with cutting-edge snow groomers and patrolled daily by a professional team of volunteers.
To learn everything there is to know about waxing your cross-country skis, read our article and watch the instructional videos.
Renowned throughout the province for the quality and variety of its cross-country ski trails, Algonquin Park offers over a hundred kilometres of skiable trails across its immense wooded territory. The trail network is spread over four main sites: Fen Lake (loops from 1 to 18 km), Leaf Lake (trails from 5 to 45 km), Old Railway Trail (16 km one-way trail) and the Minnesing Wilderness Ski Trail (loops from 6 to 32 km), the latter being ungroomed and therefore only recommended for experienced backcountry skiers and alpine touring enthusiasts. Shelters and toilets are available near the first three sites.
Read our article for tips and advice on how to choose the right Nordic skiing gear.
Located north of Toronto, Albion Hills Conservation Area offers cross-country skiing for all skill levels. The site includes 26 kilometres of winding trails that take you through a forest of conifers and hardwood trees. Along the way, skiers come across a sugar shack, several lookouts, and a few bridges. More challenging runs are available for intermediate and expert skiers looking to fire up their legs. The park is one of the most popular destinations for Toronto residents who seek a nature getaway close to the city.
The Haliburton Highlands region is a dream destination for cross-country skiers in Ontario. Skiers can head to the Frost Centre, just off Highway 35, to discover 22 km of trails through old-growth white pine, hemlock and yellow birch. The park’s several cliff-top lookouts provide a great opportunity to observe the local wildlife, including moose, deer, owls, and martens. During their outing, skiers can take a break and enjoy a picnic at one of the two heated cabins available on the trails.
Need advice on what to wear for a cross-country skiing outing? Read our blog article on the subject.