Winter, you either love it or hate it. From freezing rain, blowing snow, below zero temperatures, and seemingly endless mornings spent shoveling, living under a white blanket for half of the year is the reality here in Quebec. While we may be slowly gearing towards the end and the hope of spring being just around the corner, I wanted to end the season off by sharing with you, some of my favorite hiking spots in the Eastern Townships. Luckily for us , the winter season is one of the best times to get out and explore the many hiking trails this province has to offer. Though it may be harder on your legs to trudge through the snow and ice, there are also many advantages to winter hikes, like less crowds, less sweat, less bugs, and more stunning winter wonderland views. So bundle up, slap your crampons on, and get out to discover the frozen lakes hidden among white mountains and the snow caked pine tree trails that are waiting to be explored.
Parc D’environnement Naturel de Sutton | Sutton
Straddling the United States border, the small village of Sutton is known for having some of the most breath taking hiking trails in the whole province. To experience this beauty for yourself, make your way down to the Parc D’environnement Naturel de Sutton or PENS. While there are a dozen of different trails to choose from varying in difficulty, two of the most notable trails to discover during the colder months are Spruce Lake and Vogel Lake. Both of these trails offer views of frozen lakes and towering pine trees that fill the air with their woodsy scent, but for more of a secluded and less crowded spot, Vogel Lake is the way to go.
Centre de la Nature| Granby
More of a nature walk compared to a hike, the Centre de la Nature of Granby is still a wonderful place to visit when it’s been covered with a fresh layer of powdery snowflakes. Not only will you get to enjoy the fresh air coming off of the Boivin Lake and the multiple different trails that run through frozen forests, the Centre de la Nature is also a great place to up close and personal with some of the animal species calling the park their home. Admire the Canadian goose flying in onto the frozen lake, the cheeky chipmunks that run and jump around the trails, and the tiny little birds that will land right into your hand if you offer them a treat they cannot resist.
Parc National du Mont Orford | Orford
Amongst one of Quebec’s national parks, the Parc National du Mont Orford is an absolute beauty in the winter. With not only an abundance of hiking spots to choose from, the park also offers the option to enjoy many other winter activities such as cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and fat biking, which makes it easy to spend the entire day here surrounded by the peace and quiet of nature.
Parc des Montagnards | Shefford
A relatively easy hike with a stunning mountain top view to finish your journey off, the Parc des Montagnards in Shefford is a must in the winter. Though only offering two trails that lead to the same summit and view point, the journey up to the lookout point is just as gorgeous as the view from the top. Hike through banks of fresh snow, through pine tree tunnels and along side flowing, icy rivers to make your way up to the top, where your breath will be taken away.
Mount Pinacle | Coaticook
One of the best effort to reward ratio hikes in the area, you can reach the summit of Mont Pinacle within 2.5 km of hiking. A very good option for beginners, there are two trails to choose from that will bring you to the top where there are about five different viewpoints to pull your camera out for. While up there, admire breath taking views of the surrounding mountains waiting to be explored and feel the crisp air of the frozen Lake Lyster, on your face.