A snapshot of this full article appeared in the October 2017 Issue of Snow Goer Canada Magazine.

Super Sledding in Quebec’s Laurentians

You gotta love riding three different day loops from the same hotel. That’s one reason riders looking for some of Quebec’s most reliable snow return to Mont-Laurier frequently for long weekend getaways in the Upper Laurentians
Snowy Laurentians
These Quebec mountains are just north of the Ottawa and St. Lawrence Rivers, convenient for snowmobilers visiting from Ontario and the U.S. They are an extension of New York State’s Adirondack Mountains; their rugged terrain, full of hilly forests, picturesque lakes and scenic river valleys, is ideal for sledding. Their elevation and northerly positioning also enable an extra long season on over 2,300 kilometres of groomed trails, typically from Christmas through late March. 

About Mont Laurier 
Snowmobile-friendly Mont-Laurier is located in the heart of this trail network (at the intersection of Trans Quebec Trails 13 and 63). For many decades, Mont-Laurier has been working its magic as one of Quebec’s best go-to destinations. With a population of about 13,000, the town’s a two-hour drive north of Ottawa. It’s big enough to provide the services snowmobilers need, including sled rentals and dealers representing all manufacturers. It’s also a great sledding destination for those who want to snowmobile there from elsewhere in Quebec or from Ontario (cross the Ottawa River into Quebec on TOP Trail A213Q near Rockland and pick up Quebec Regional Trail 323 – but double check snow conditions in these lowland areas before going).

Great grooming in the LaurentiansMont-Laurier’s where our Snow Goer Canada crew towed our Triton Trailers for three superb days of couples’ sledding on our Ski-Doo snowmobiles. Trish Robison & Johnny Biasi, Craig & Dawn Irwin, and Marsha & I drove through Ottawa and up Highway 309. With each kilometre, we climbed higher as the road ascended through the mountains and the snow banks on either side of us grew larger. So no matter what the snow conditions may be behind you, bet that they’ll be better the closer you get to Mont Laurier. 
Day Rides from Hotel Quality Inn
Our home-away-from-home, the Hotel Quality Inn is just east of the junction of Highways 309 and 117 across the river bridge. As soon as we turned into its entrance and saw the huge size of the parking lot, I knew this was a hotel catering to snowmobilers – and with all the amenities on site, we had no reason to venture anywhere else during our stay except to go snowmobiling.
From the Hotel Quality Inn, we rode three-day loops, starting each morning from the trail on the unplowed sidewalk right in front of our hotel. A quick right turn and road crossing at the lights led us to where the local access trail heads north (right) to connect with both Trans Quebec 13 and 63.

Day one, we travelled a westerly loop from Mont-Laurier towards the towns of Grand-Remous and Maniwaki (for details on Ice Walls along Trans Quebec 63all day rides, see Itinerary below), but didn’t actually go to either place. This loop took in a scenic stop at Devil’s Mountain (Montagne du Diable) where there’s a neat relais (restaurant) perched over the edge of the slope. This is the 2nd highest peak in the Laurentians and it’s the only one of the two accessible by snowmobile trail. As we climbed the 783 metres to the top, we could actually feel the air chill up and see the trees turning into snow ghosts, fully encased in frozen white cocoons. Also be sure to check out Windigo Falls (Chutes du Windigo) on Local Trail 228 and the Baskatong Reservoir, which we crossed following the stake line on Regional Trail 322. We rode about 230 kilometres, but you can ride farther west and/or farther south to increase your distance, or cut it back by about 100 klicks if you want a shorter ride. 

The next day, we snowmobiled east in a 270-kilometre circle around the towns of Nominique and Rivière-Rouge. Trans Quebec Trail 63 eastbound is a rail-trail, so we made good time, and gain, this ride can be either longer or shorter, depending on your choice of loop trails.

Day three took us north on a 256-kilomtre loop that included the towns of Ferme-Neuve and Saint-Anne-du-Lac, located where the terrain is transitioning from mountain to the plateau that extends into Northern Quebec. Lots of wide open running here especially around Club Meekos, where we stopped for fuel and food. As Trans Quebec Trail 53 heads south it runs to the west of the Kiamika Reservoir and it’s a neat side trip to take Local Trail 253 to actually ride alongside it.

Chutes du WindigoWith so many trail options, each day ride can be short or long as your group prefers. But if you decide to rack up big miles on the wide-open, logging road trails north of Sainte-Anne-du-Lac (Wood Runner Trails), be advised that remote outfitters provide the only services available there, so keep an eye on your gas and the weather.
Day Ride Advantage
Each night, we returned to the Hotel Quality Inn so there was no need for saddlebags. Multiple day rides like these from the same staging hotel are very relaxing because you don’t have to pack up and leave every morning, and can enjoy the convenience and comfort of a familiar place each evening. It also makes your coming and going less hectic and if anyone in your group wants to ride less or has a breakdown, it’s more easily accommodated than on a saddlebag tour.
It’s also a pleasure to know you’re returning to such a snowmobile-friendly town. Perhaps the best indication of Mont-Laurier’s welcome magic is that snowmobiles can travel the full length of the main drag (highway 117) along the snow covered south sidewalk. We rode our sled through the centre of town one day just for fun and I was impressed that everyone waved and smiled as we went by. Now that’s the kind of hospitality you want to experience this winter ¬– and Mont-Laurier is the place to get it!
#QuebecOriginal #Laurentians #Snowmobile #winter #WhereToStay
Wide, smooth trails

Special thanks to Gillian Hall (Tourisme Quebec) and Pierre Bessette (Tourisme Laurentides) for assistance with this tour. Craig’s tours are made possible by BRP (Ski-Doo), Gateway Powersport, FXR Racing, Split Rail Skis, Triton Trailers, and Woody’s Traction Products.
Craig Nicholson is the author of “Canada’s Best Snowmobiling — Your Ultimate Ride Guide”. His snowmobile writing also appears in many newspapers, magazines and websites. He also hosts “The Intrepid Snowmobiler on Radio” and appears on Snowmobile Television. For more info, visit www.intrepidsnowmobiler.com

               Tourism Quebec              Tourism Laurentides

Who To Contact
FCMQ (for permits and trail info) 

Maps Needed
Area Trail Conditions
Recently Groomed > Services > Delai de Surfacage
Mont -Laurier Dealers
Mont-Laurier Sports (Arctic Cat)
Day Ride Itinerary
(TQ = Trans Quebec; RT = Regional Trail; LT = Local Trail)
Day One: 230 km loop. Ride west via TQ63&13w/LT225n/LT227 or LT228e/TQ13n/RT322n (gas & food at Club Fontbrune on LT23 or Village Windigo on RT322)  /TQ13/63w/RT324e/LT224e/LT230n.
Day Two: 269 km loop. Ride east via TQ63e/RT319s/RT323n/RT325n (Gas & food at Rivière-Rouge) /TQ63w/RT319n/RT322w/TQ53s/TQ63w/LT263w.
Day Three: 256 km loop. Ride north via TQ13n (gas & food at Saint-Anne-du-Lac) /RT319e (Gas & food at Club Meekos) /TQ53s/LT224w/LT230n.
Optional Ride: Ride southwest 232 km via TQ63&13w/TQ13s (Gas & food at Maniwaki) /322e/53n/63w

Hotel Quality InnWhere To Stay
Hotel Quality Inn, Mont Laurier. This good, snowmobiler-friendly hotel is a great staging location for day rides around the area. With trail access, it's located across the road from a gas station and convenience store, and has a big, well-lit and secure parking lot for trucks and trailers. You can park your sleds in front of ground floor rooms and the hotel provides security cables and video surveillance - or park them in your trailer each night as we do to keep them clean and out of sight.
Hotel Quality Inn offers clean, well appointed rooms with small fridges and good Wi-Fi with both interior and exterior access from ground floor rooms + an indoor hot pool (not hot tub) for soothing sore ride muscles. Food is tasty in the on site L'Autentico Restaurant and even on the snowmobile package meals, portions are large.

Tested on Tour
By Craig Nicholson, The Intrepid Snowmobiler
Quick Connect HitchQuick Connect Hitch
Just when you think every important sled accessory has already been invented, along comes a new one – and I’m not surprised it’s from Tricked-Toys. These Canadian guys offer useful items on their website, like Snow Flap Savers, Rattle Stoppers, ice scratchers, gas racks, an array of custom Billet Aluminium accessories to make your sled look even sharper – and now the Quick Connect Hitch.
Anyone who’s added a tow hitch to their sled’s bumper quickly comes to several realizations. One, some are pretty flimsy (especially compared to some loads you may want to tow) and two, sled bumpers aren’t as strong as they used to be. But you’ll know the new, heavy-duty Quick Connect Hitch from Tricked-Toys means business at first touch because of its solid, sturdy feel. 
True to its name, Quick Connect Hitch fastens to your back bumper in seconds with rubber-lined clamps that grip like glue when the large clamping nuts are hand tightened…without marking your sled. By installing to the your sled’s rear bumper near its attachment points to the frame, Quick Connect Hitch directs the pull of any load away from your bumper’s weak centre point to its stronger outer edges. The result is that you’re now able to pull a load more easily and with less potential for damage. Best of all, when you’re finished towing, simply remove the Quick Connect Hitch until the next time it’s needed. 
For anyone wanting to temporarily add some utility capacity to their sled for the cottage, going ice fishing or towing the kids in a sled buggy, the Quick Connect Hitch is worth a try. Available in Aluminium ($150) or Black ($170). 
No-Fog® High Performance Breath Deflector No-Fog® High Performance Breath Deflector 
One of the most frustrating aspects of snowmobiling is the age-old problem of fogging up inside your helmet. Just to heighten your exasperation, add deep freeze temperature and/or eyeglasses to the equation, plus a hot metabolism like mine – and good luck ever being able to see clearly!

A myriad of products are touted as remedies for fogging up and I’ve tried most of them. But in every case, they – even in combination – haven’t been reliable cures, and once the fogging starts again it’s almost impossible to stop. That’s why I rediscovered and returned to the original No-Fog® High Performance Breath Deflector…and resolved my visor and eyeglasses fogging.
Yeah, it’s one more item to put on and carry around, but who cares when I can see properly while riding. Since I first tried a No-Fog mask many years ago, the company has expanded their line up to 10 variations to suit every application and size (measured by neck circumference). Some have integrated fleece neck curtains to deter cold air seepage; others come with a full balaclava attached. All are more adjustable than before and most feature No-Fog’s new “Dry Face” technology that prevents the mask feeling clammy against your skin. 
No-Fog® High Performance Breath Deflector My re-experiencing of No-Fog is that it works way better than the breath-boxes that come as part of many helmets today. That’s because my No-Fog mask guarantees a proper seal against my face since it’s fitted on and moves with my head, not separate and apart like those attached to helmets. In fact, No-Fog works best when the both my helmet’s breath-box and chin screen are removed to allow the full escape of the hot, moist air that No-Fog deflects down and away from my visor and glasses. I also like that I can keep my face and neck warm with my No-Fog High Performance Breath Deflector, thereby eliminating need for a balaclava – and avoiding any frostbite because there’s no exposed flesh on my cheeks, chin, nose or throat. 
I don’t have space here to answer every question about No-Fog, but I do recommend avoiding any of the many inferior substitutes or copies and stick with a genuine No-Fog High Performance Breath Deflector (made in USA). It’s also worthwhile to check out the Tech Tips and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section on the No-Fog website – and then click on “Where to Buy” and scroll down to the Retail Buyers section.
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