The vast network of interconnecting snowmobile trails running through the Charlevoix region lets you go full throttle, criss crossing the region in exceptional conditions surrounded by landscapes as diverse as they are stunning. Pass through dense forest, deep valleys and the challenging peaks of picture perfect mountain ranges offering a unique panorama framed by the majestic St. Lawrence River. Travelling through these breathtaking landscapes and cute villages also throws up the opportunity to meet local residents, soak up their warm hospitality and stay in charming accommodation from luxurious five-star hotels to rustic forest camps.
1. Mont À Peine
Accessible from snowmobile trail number 3 – the main trail north of the St. Lawrence River located in the La Malbaie sector – Mont À Peine rewards you with an incredible view of the bay La Malbaie (translated as ‘Bad Bay’ in English). Rumour has it that when Samuel de Champlain discovered the bay on June 30th 1608, he spoke of a ‘trunk bay’, meaning “bad bay” in Latin. Despite there being no mention of him grounding his ship in any of his writings, it was likely very difficult for his crew to dock his ship, the Don-de-Dieu, in this bay.
2. Montagne de la Croix de Clermont
Make a pit stop or arrange to meet friends at the top of the Montagne de la Croix, an observation and interpretation site giving you a 360-degree panoramic view over the city of Clermont, the valley of the Malbaie river, as well as the immensity of the Charlevoix mountains. During clear skies you may be lucky enough to see all the way to the south shore of the St. Lawrence River.
3. Mont Thérèse-Casgrain
Standing proud at 700 meters, this extraordinary landscape offers a breathtaking view across the snow-covered slopes of Mont Grand-Fonds and the Malbaie river. A view this formidable is the perfect tribute to the famous Thérèse Casgrain, a French Canadian feminist who, in 1921, at the age of just 25, fought a long battle for women’s right to vote in the province of Quebec. In 1955, she became the first woman in Canada to lead a political party and was elected to the Senate of Canada in 1970. A recipient of numerous prizes and distinctions throughout her life, she died aged 85 in 1981 having never given up her fight for equality.
From the Trans-Québec trail (#3), take the 377 regional trail towards the St. Lawrence River. The long but breathtaking descent of the vertiginous coast at Godin gives you the feeling of driving directly into the icy waters of the river below. From there, embark on the ferry linking Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive to Isle-aux-Coudres, enjoying a unique sensation of sailing through the fragmented pack ice. Take a moment here to breathe the salty air and observe the ice drifting as far as the eye can see framed by the shores of the St. Lawrence. Once on the island, local club trails allow you to criss cross orchards and farmland boasting beautiful views of Massif de Charlevoix on the horizon.
As stunning as the landscapes are all over the Baie-Saint-Paul sector, the regional path 378 is a particularly spectacular section. Running along the edge of agricultural fields to the end of the Saint-Gabriel-de-Pérou North, this trail offers magnificent panoramic views of the St. Lawrence River, Isle-aux- Coudres, downtown Baie-Saint-Paul and numerous snow-capped peaks jutting out from the horizon.