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Escaping the city to Mont Tremblant

Do you want to know about a secret get-away spot in the mountains with great french beers and fresh air?

I recommend heading to Mont Tremblant National Park in Quebec to find your wild soul within. I felt I needed to get out of the big city and find some peace and quiet, and this French destination was the perfect place.

I rented a car, packed up clothes and snacks for my family, and hit the road. I stopped over in Ottawa to visit Parliament Hill  and to eat a beaver tail before heading further east to the Laurentian Mountains. Mont Tremblant is a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding in the winter and rock climbing, canoeing, and hiking in the spring and summer.

This string of mountains is located approximately two hours east of Ottawa, six hours from Toronto and one hour from Montreal by car. The Laurentian mountain range is one of the oldest in the world and there are over 9000 lakes in the area. An abandoned railway line, la P-tit Train du Nord runs 230km from St. Jerome to Mont-Laurier and is one of Canada’s longest linear parks used for cycling, hiking, and cross-country skiing.

Mont Tremblant Village
Mont Tremblant Village

We drove into Mont Tremblant wearing our city attire and quickly changed into warmer clothes and shoes. Initially, the town seemed unimpressive until we drove up the hill and witnessed the lake and mountains at sunset. The Mont Tremblant village resembles a fantasyland with cute cottages surrounded by the mountains. The village was impressive from afar, but the businesses were mostly corporate, which was disappointing. I had hoped for authentic Quebecois shops that reflected the history of the area, but it was more of a commercialized resort.

We quickly moved on to the National Park, located 30 minutes to the east of the town, and headed to the Discovery Centre. It was a building that had friendly bilingual staff, trail maps and information, filtered water and coffee, and washrooms. We set off on an 11 km hike and reached the viewpoint called La Roche in about two hours. The path was well set and there wasn’t too much foot traffic.

Mont Tremblant National Park path
Mont Tremblant National Park path

We enjoyed the top of the climb by eating dark chocolate and trail mix while looking at the Laurentian Mountains for miles down the valley. The view as incredible and it was peaceful being away from the noises of city traffic and sirens. There was still snow on the ground and I recommend wearing boots and winter gear if hiking in April or early May. On the way down the hill, my cousin and I took both hands of my five-year-old and we slid all the way down on the snow. It was an enjoyable experience and my daughter laughed the whole way down.

Mont Tremblant is an easy getaway for nature lovers and in its peak months, is full of activities to do. Though I visited off-season, it was calm and quiet, which is exactly the escape I was craving. It is important to show children the value of natural excursions and I got to witness how happy my daughter was when she is in the outdoors. I will definitely be back to camp, hike, and rock climb in the warmer weather and I hope to see you there with your family and friends.

Do you have a favourite getaway spot within six hours of Toronto? Let us know in the comments below.

 

10 great ways to enjoy a snow day

When a snow day hits and the sun is shining, why not take advantage and get outside? If you bundle up and wear all the necessary winter gear, outdoor fun can be a great way to defeat the cold weather and revel in nature’s beauty. Here are some great ways to get outside and beat those winter blues.

1. Snowboarding/Skiing

Though only parts of Canada are truly worth skiing or snowboarding in, it is a worthwhile sport to learn and participate in. People always join one camp or the other but both sports have their merits. On a snowboard, you are typically able to do more tricks and technical play. With skiing, it is all about speed. Skis are very mobile and adaptable on the hill. Just try not to lose them because trekking across the hill to grab a lost ski is a laborious process. Snowboarding and skiing can be an expensive sport but is worthwhile to invest in.

Winter1

2. Sledding

Sledding is a great way to enjoy a snow day for kids and adults. The equipment is cheap, ranging from a saucer to an old fashioned sled. Most places will have at least one good sledding hill. Though it is a pain to drag the sled up the hill, the thrill of riding it back down makes it all worthwhile. Get out there and remember what it is like to be a kid again.

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3. Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing is another great outdoor winter sport and has existed since Aboriginals used them before Europeans arrived in Canada. The custom was passed onto settlers as a mode of travel. Previously, they used animal skin to make the shoes which evolved into plastic and titanium which is used today. There are three types of snowshoes available. Recreational hiking snowshoes are good for beginners, aerobic/fitness snowshoes are best for active snowshoe partakers who enjoy moving quickly. These snowshoes are generally sleeker and lighter. The third type is a hiking/backpack snowshoe which is made for people who love powder and are experienced at snowshoeing. Snowshoes range from $100 to $300.

 

 

4. Snowskating

I fondly remember my friends ripping down the hills on a snowskate and loving every minute of it. The snowskate is a combination of a snowboard and a skateboard. It is a hybrid urban sport that is good for city boarding, and can be used with as little as an inch of snow on the ground. The boards are almost the same size as a skateboard but without the wheels. They are difficult to ride because of the size but once you master it, the speed and fun to be had is unbeatable. Snowskates are affordable, ranging from $50 to $200.

Ice Skating

5. Ice Skating

If you do not know how to skate, you simply are not a Canadian. I remember when I was three years old and hitting the rink for the first time. My brother brought me, tied my skates, brought me onto the ice and pushed. Not the most eloquent way to learn skating but I became pretty good on my skates in no time. Ice skating is great solo, with a friend or on a date. It is relaxing and a great workout. Can’t beat that! Skates can be as cheap as $40 and rentals are available at most larger rinks.

6. Playing pick-up hockey

Playing hockey is definitely a must on sunny winter days. A great Canadian custom, rinks in most cities will be full of people ready to come together and play pick-up. The gear for hockey is pricey but if it’s just pick-up, people are often willing to share or rent gear at local hockey rinks. Pick-up hockey is a great way to make new friends, learn how to be a part of a team and pick-up a cute hockey player as well.

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7.Building a Snowman

No one is ever too old to build a snowman. It is a great activity that also happens to be free and outdoors. Rolling balls of snow is strangely relaxing and people can get very creative with their snowman projects. In college, a few friends made a giant Buddha on a sunny snow day in the yard of the dorm that was nearly the size of a small car. It was an epic creation and brought smiles to many people’s faces. Building a snowman with a child is also another way to have a great snow day.

8. Winter Hiking

Winter hiking is a great pastime and is relatively easy to do. All it requires are warm clothes and shoes, and some snacks. No hike is satisfying without delicious snacks like trail mix or dried fruit. Winter hiking can be a lot of fun because if one falls, it is into a cloud of snow which provides padding from the hard ground. It is important to stay safe and on routes when hiking because it is easy to get lost while in the backwoods. That being said, the winter wonderland outside is always worth seeing in the beautiful natural world we live in.

By Kevin K.
By Kevin K.

9. Ice climbing

Ice climbing is a more adventurous sport of choice for a snow day but is well worthwhile. It is best to try ice climbing with an expert in tow and there are many certified teachers that provide lessons to people willing to give it a go. Ice climbing requires crampons, axes, harnesses, boots and other gear. It can be expensive but it’s worthwhile to try and then once you fall in love with the sport (which you will), then you can start learning the ropes with a partner.

10. Kick it in a hot tub at the end of the snow day

There is nothing nicer than relaxing in a hot tub when it is cold outside with a glass of red wine. A hot soak soothes your muscles after any winter sport. It is especially nice if you are in the hot tub with a great view of the winter mountains, and the hockey player you picked up, or Ryan Gosling.

Enjoy your snow day and remember, the cold shouldn’t mean we stay indoors and fret. Get out there and enjoy the snow.