Mont-Tremblant, as Told by Locals
The famous “North” of Montreal is home to the majestic Laurentian mountains and the ultimate must-see destination: Mont-Tremblant. The region is well-known among Quebec residents as well as Canadian, American, and international tourists. Though most of us consider it a familiar staple, it’s an area full of hidden gems and surprising attractions.
Come along with us as we get a closer look at Mont-Tremblant through the eyes of two locals, who spoke with us about their relationship to the beloved region.
A thin layer of snow covered the Mont-Tremblant village as we met with Benoit Poirier on a brisk, late-November morning. He welcomed us into his workshop as he worked away on his personal fat bike.
On the shores of Lake Mercier, winter is no longer a dead season for bikers: many fatbikers flock to the region to enjoy the region’s dreamy conditions. But this migration didn’t happen overnight - and much of this new winter activity’s popularity can be owed to Benoit Poirier.
He points out that both activities are quite similar, especially in terms of the technical clothing they require. The wind factor is comparable, and the average fatbiking speed resembles that of skate skiing. The two activities also both necessitate a well-maintained trail system.
A labour of love
Since 2015, the region boasts a network of over 50 km of trails dedicated to fatbiking, created and maintained by Benoit Poirier and his brother Phil. Trail maintenance needs to be done at least twice a week, as well as after each snowfall. The brothers use three different trail grooming machines, pulled by a snowmobile. Sometimes, they even have to compact the snow with the tires of a car first. It’s a big job!
Maintaining the trails can be so demanding that sometimes, after heavy snow storms, the Poiriers call on the entire Mont-Tremblant fat bike community to work together and clear the trails. Benoit and Phil invite them to grab their snowshoes and “hit the trail,” as the saying goes.
The conditions in Mont-Tremblant are ideal for an introduction to fatbiking. There are stores in the area that offer fat bike rentals. Beginners can get their start on the P’tit Train du Nord linear park trail, with its trailhead just a kilometre and a half away from the store. Good to know: Sunday is the least busy day, so it’s the best day to try out fatbiking if you’re making last minute plans!
Cross-country skiing at Domaine Saint-Bernard
We also talked to Dorian Baysset, founder and co-organizer of the Défi de la Diable, a winter triathlon. He met us at Domaine Saint-Bernard, where the event takes place, under the mid-afternoon sun and surrounded by idyllic, enchanting scenery.
For Dorian Baysset, the region is a little slice of paradise. The Domaine Saint-Bernard, where he takes us on a stroll, is his favourite terrain for cross-country skiing. The trails allow for classic-style skiing on both sides of the path, while the centre of the trail allows for skate skiing. Following along the Diable River in some places, the trails offer a rolling, hilly terrain that is as much of a treat for seasoned enthusiasts as it is a challenge for amateurs.
From these trails you can also reach the Labelle and Le Maître golf courses, where the sunset is not something to be missed.The best itinerary? Leaving around 3:45 PM to catch the sunset (which starts around 4:30 pm), allowing for just enough time to get home before dark.
An absolute must-see
We asked him his number one place to visit in the area (if he had to choose just one) and he answered without hesitation.
His go-to is the Nez-de-l’Indien trail, an accessible and unforgettable loop of approximately 8 kilometres. Not too busy, it provides a breathtaking view of the region, including Lac Tremblant. What’s more, the trail is free to access and dogs are permitted. The bravest winter enthusiasts will want to get there early (at around 5:00 AM) to watch the sunrise over Mont Tremblant. The route can be done on foot in hiking boots, or with snowshoes or crampons, depending on the conditions.
So much to do, so much to discover
As explained by Esteban, a local barista, as he handed us our coffees in Mont-Tremblant, “Winter is more fun, because it lets us really spend time with people.” Well, that pretty much sums up our visit! The people of Mont-Tremblant are so friendly and proud of their region: it’s a true delight to meet them and discover their local recommendations.
In any case, don’t hesitate to get away and savour the cold weather in the spectacular Mont-Tremblant region this winter.