Day Loops in Quebec’s Laurentians…

Snowmobile trails beside wind turbines in Mont Laurier snowmobiling

Photo © by Craig Nicholson


Related: Saddle Bagging Central Quebec


 

It was a frigid January day to go Mont Laurier snowmobiling. Much too cold to ride a brisk pace. Better to just cruise along, hunkered down behind my tall windshield. Handlebar heaters and thumb warmer cranked to max. Heated seat and FXR Heated Recon Gloves on fry…

The temperature dropped even more as the trail climbed higher uphill. And suddenly, it happened – the startling transition to a unique winter wonderland. An ethereal world of deep snow and snow ghosts, those frozen evergreens encased in white stuff like silent sentinel sculptures.

And just as abruptly, I reached the crest. And looked out over a breath-taking swath of territory stretching to the distant horizon in panoramic array. Like so many others before me, I had snowmobiled to the top of Devil’s Mountain.

Returning For Mont Laurier Snowmobiling

Hilly terrain makes Mont Laurier snowmobiling more interesting

Lanaudière snowmobile trail photo© by Craig Nicholson

Several winters ago, while saddle bagging through Quebec’s Laurentides Region, our Supertrax crew overnighted in Mont Laurier. I remember being very impressed with trail access into the town. And the snowmobile-friendly feel of the place. I’d also heard about the nearby Montagne du Diable (Devil’s Mountain). So when the time came last winter for a destination article about staging day rides from a Quebec location, Mont Laurier snowmobiling was a top choice.

The Town of Mont Laurier (pop. 13,799) is located centrally in the Province of Quebec in what’s known as the Upper Laurentians. The Laurentian Mountain range extends from the Adirondacks in New York State. They run north of and parallel to the St. Lawrence River. For those trailering in, Mont Laurier is only 187 miles from Massena, NY and 238 miles from Burlington VT. It’s also 160 miles (250 km) northwest of Montreal. And 134 miles (216 km) north of Ottawa, most of it uphill.

Mont Laurier Snowmobiling Trails

Abandoned rail lines make up part of the trail system for Mont Laurier snowmobiling

Riding rail trail Trans Quebec 63 east of Mont Laurier – photo © by Craig Nicholson

We quickly discovered why Mont Laurier and area is such a popular snowmobiling destination. Such renown starts with reliable and lasting snow. This elevation-generated white stuff averages 137 in (350 cm) each season. It’s a wintery phenomenon that enables over 1,560 mi (2,512 km) of well-maintained snowmobile trails. These include several exceptional day loop options for Mont Laurier snowmobiling.

These trail circuits are part of the provincial system. It’s operated by the Quebec Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (La Fédération des Clubs de Motorneige du Québec or FCMQ). As such, Trans Quebec Trails marked in blue, with numbers ending in the numeral “3”, connect various regions. Meanwhile, regional Trails connect Trans Quebec Trails at various points. These show green on trail signs and maps with three-digit numbers beginning with a “3”.

In both cases, the “3” is also a special designation. It signifies all Trans Quebec Trails in all regions north of the St. Lawrence River. Those to the south in other regions use the number “5” instead. All Local Trails are coloured orange.

Riding Day Loops

Chutes du Windigo – Photo © by Craig Nicholson

For our day one ride, we checked out the Kiamika Reservoir (Local Trail 253). And then looped north one day for lunch at Pourvoirie Meekos (Regional Trail 319). Another day we circled east to The Town of Nomininque on Trans Quebec Trail 63. Then we took in the Chutes du Lac-Cunières (Local Trail 221). Finally, we embarked on a third day’s ride westward to the Baskatong Reservoir (Regional Trail 322) and Chutes du Windigo (Windigo Falls – Local Trail 228).

And the aforementioned Montagne du Diable (Devil’s Mountain – Local Trail 229)! Devil’s Mountain is the area’s premier attraction for snowmobilers. It’s the second highest elevation in the Laurentians after Mont Tremblant. This peak features a south-facing lookout complimented by basic refreshments at the rustic relais perched on the mountain’s edge.

Montagne du Diable relais – photo by Dawn Irwin

Each one of the loops we did could range from about 125 miles to more than double that. It depends on which trails you choose. Most of these routes follow forest access roads and old logging corridors. This makes exploring the Laurentian uplands even more of a treat.

Meanwhile, there’s another option for those with more time, or who enjoy even bigger miles and wilderness riding. It’s a network north of Mont-Laurier known as the “Wood Runner Trails”. It offers several longer circuits for Mont Laurier snowmobiling serviced by remote outfitters (“Pourvoiries” in French).

Snowmobile-Friendly Location

Trail map showing our Mont Laurier snowmobiling day rides

Our Mont Laurier snowmobiling day loops -photo © by Craig Nicholson

In Mont Laurier, snowmobiles are allowed to travel on the south side sidewalk. So there’s good access to the same services available to automobiles along this thoroughfare. Local residents are generally very welcoming of snowmobilers riding here, stepping aside or offering warm smiles. You can even rent a sled in town!

One of the major benefits of staging day rides from one location is not having to search for new lodging every night. Another is not having to pack up and leave each morning. But best of all is finding one location, for both town and lodging. This makes returning after a memorable day’s ride even more enjoyable. And that’s what we experienced with Mont Laurier snowmobiling and at the Comfort Inn.

Staging From Comfort Inn

Sleds in front of our Comfort Inn staging hotel.

Comfort Inn Mont Laurier – photo © by Craig Nicholson

The Comfort Inn Mont Laurier is located at the east end of town. It’s on the main street, Boulevard Albiny Paquette (Highway 117), beside Trans Quebec Trail 63. What’s more, snowmobile access to all the area trails and loops is just north and east of the Comfort Inn.

The Comfort Inn is located across the road from a gas station. It’s also attached to Restaurant La Cage sports bar, which is open early for breakfast in the winter and late for dinner.
The Comfort Inn offers many well-appointed, ground floor rooms with sled parking in front of their exterior doors. Good lighting, video cams and an electronic cable connected alarm system provides good sled security overnight. There’s also sufficient truck and trailer parking in designated spaces, with a special area reserved for longer-term vehicle parking.

Other hotel offerings include whirlpool and sauna. There’s also a 24-hr front desk with English speaking staff, plus many room amenities. These include reliable WIFI, multiple plugs for USB and electronics, fridge and coffee machine.

My Recommendation

Mont Laurier snowmobiling includes scenic forest trails like this

Riding well-groomed & signed trails around Mont Laurier – photo © by Craig Nicholson

Mont Laurier isn’t the only snowmobile-friendly town in Quebec. And Laurentides is only one of their eight regional choices of snowmobiling destinations. But both are top-notch examples of what makes La Belle Province so special. And why so many touring riders choose Mont-Laurier snowmobiling in Laurentides again and again.

What’s more, this three-day adventure is for those wanting to take advantage of Quebec’s Free Weekend on January 18 & 19, 2020. And for those who love both snowmobiling and downhill skiing, why not combine them into one fun-filled family vacation? Mont Tremblant is only 65 miles (105 km) down the road from Mont Laurier!

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The tips and advice in this blog are the opinions of the author, may not work in every situation and are intended only for the convenience and interest of the reader, who has the personal responsibility to confirm the validity, accuracy and relevancy of this information prior to putting it to their own use.

 

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