Quebec, Canada’s second-most populous province, encompasses more than 595,000 square miles, making it Canada’s largest province by area. In fact, Quebec is said to be nearly three times the size of France or Texas.
Quebec is bordered by the Ontario province, James Bay, and Hudson Bay to the west, Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay to the north, the Newfoundland and Labrador province and Gulf of Saint Lawrence to the east, and the New Brunswick Province and several U.S. states to the south.
The two main topographic regions in southern Quebec include the Saint Lawrence Lowland and the Appalachians, while the Canadian Shield, a large horseshoe-shaped region shaped by glaciers, occupies the central and northern portions of the province. Quebec also encompasses several islands, including the Island of Montreal, Anticosti Island, and the Magdalen Islands.
The northern portion of the Appalachian Mountain system, which extends from Newfoundland and Labrador to the Hudson River, encompasses Quebec’s Chic-Choc and Notre Dame Mountains. The Notre Dame Mountains extend from the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec to the Green Mountains in Vermont, following the Canada/United States border between Quebec and Maine. Several tall summits lie along the border separating Quebec from Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, including Mont Hereford, Mont Megantic, and Mont Gosford.
The Chic-Chocs, or Shickshock Mountains, form the backbone of the Gaspe Peninsula and follow the south shore of the St. Lawrence River for 100 miles. The Chic-Chocs are heavily eroded, with rounded, flat tops and steep sides. The tallest peak in the range, Mont Jacques-Cartier, is the tallest mountain in southern Quebec and the highest in the Canadian Appalachians. The Chic-Chocs aren’t a particularly popular tourist destination, but areas in the range, including Mont Albert, Mont Hog’s Back, Mont Lyall, Champ Mars, Mont Logan, and Mines Madeleine, are notorious for their fresh powder and epic backcountry skiing potential. Together, the Chic-Chocs and Notre Dame Mountains house several of Quebec’s tallest summits and most notorious summits, including Mont Dos-de-Baleine, Mont de la Passe, Mont Comte, and Mont Rolland-Germain.
The treeless Torngat Mountains sit on the Labrador Peninsula near Ungava Bay at the northern tip of Newfoundland and Labrador and eastern Quebec. More than half of the range sits in Quebec and lies in the arctic tundra above the treeline. This set of summits is characterized by stunning fjords and finger lakes, as well as impressive alpine peaks. The illustrious Mont D'iberville (known as Mount Caubvick in Labrador), straddles the Quebec and Labrador border and is the highest point in mainland Canada east of Alberta. Mont D’Iberville rises abruptly and contains notoriously craggy ridges, steep cirques, and glaciers.
The Laurentian Mountains cover 22,000 square miles just north of Montreal in the southern part of the province. Interestingly, North America’s first ski lift was built in the Laurentians in 1931 and, since then, the Laurentians have become Montreal’s all-seasons outdoor recreation destination. The Laurentian Mountains are densely forested and are one of the oldest mountain ranges on the planet. Several Laurentian summits reach over 3,500 feet in elevation, including Mont Raoul-Blanchard, Mont Belle Fontaine, and Mont de la Quebecoise. One of the most popular destinations in the Laurentian Mountains is Mont Tremblant and the Mont Tremblant Ski Resort.
The Monteregian Hills are a linear chain of isolated hills in Montreal that lie between the Laurentians and the Appalachians. The Monteregians are masses of igneous rock that crystallized below the land surface. Despite their modest elevation, the Monteregian Hills appear to rise dramatically from the otherwise low-lying, flat landscape. The most recognizable hill in the Monteregians is Mont royal, which sits immediately west of downtown Montreal. The hill consists of three peaks: Colline de la Croix, Colline d’Outremont, and Westmount Summit.
Gaspesie National Park was created in 1937 to protect the caribou of the Gaspe Peninsula and two of Quebec’s most extraordinary mountain ranges: The Chic Chocs and McGerrigle Mountains. Today, this 802 square kilometer park contains more than 87 miles of hiking trails, 25 summits over 3,300 feet in elevation, including Mont Jacques-Cartier, and is a hub for outdoor recreation. The park is also a hotspot for wildlife viewing and contains incredible arctic-alpine flora. Some of the best trails in the park include: Mont Olivine, Pic-de-l’Aube, Mont Richardson, Mont Albert, Mont Jacques-Cartier, and Mont Joseph-Fortin.
Located in the UNESCO designated Charlevoix region, Grands-Jardins has been a popular destination for fishing for over 100 years. Today, the “Great Gardens” is appreciated by anglers, hikers, campers, and skiers. This 310 square kilometer park houses an amazing ancient boreal forest, stunning Arctic vegetation, a variety of wildlife, and contains several popular ski slopes includig Mont-du-Lac-des-Cygnes and La Chouenne. Grands-Jardins is part of the Canadian Shield, so you can expect to be impressed with the park’s impressive peaks, including Mont du Lac a Moise, Mont de I’Ours, and Mont Jean-Palardy. Popular hikes in the park include: The Le Pioui and Mont du Lac des Cynes Loop, Mont du Lac des Cygnes, and La Chouenne.
Jacques-Cartier National Park is a 600 square kilometer wilderness park located just outside of Quebec City in the Laurentian Mountains. Jacques-Cartier is best-known for its deep glacial valleys, lush rolling hills, and glacial moraines. The U-shaped Jacques-Cartier Valley, in particular, is known as one of the most beautiful glacial valleys in the province. There is also plenty of adventure available on the water, including whitewater kayaking canoeing, and rafting down the Jacques-Cartier River, which has cut a 550-metre-deep channel into the plateau. Popular trails in Jacques-Cartier include: Les Loups, Les Cascades, Le Scotora, and L’eperon.
Another gem tucked within the Laurentian Mountains, La Maricie National Park covers more than 500 square kilometers between Montreal and Quebec City and is home to more than 150 stunning lakes. La Mauricie is best-known for its magnificent display of fall foliage, but is also a spacious outdoor playground for hikers, paddlers, fishers, swimmers, and bicyclists. Scenic trails include: The Les Cascades trail, Waber Falls, Caribou Lake, and the Le Passage and Lle-aux-Pins Lookouts.
Tucked in Montreal’s backyard, Mont-Tremblant is an extraordinary 1,510 square kilometer wilderness area packed with rivers, streams, lakes, and sprawling Laurentian summits. The park features 18 designated hiking trails that cover 82 kilometers and two serviced beaches. The park is generally divided into three main areas – the valleys of the Diable River, the Pimbina Creek, and the Assomption River. Popular trails include: La Boucle de Centenaire, Grand Bule to Pic White, La Roche, and Chute du Diable.
Nestled within the Laurentian Mountains, the famous Tremblant Ski Resort is a charming five-star resort packed with fresh powder and stunning scenery. Mont Tremblant is home to 100 trails, 14 lifts, and 755 acres of skiable terrain. In the summer, the resort is a popular destination for hiking, camping, fishing, and paddling. A chalet and cafeteria are located at the mountain and an open-air gondola carries visitors to and from the nearby pedestrian village. There are plenty of hotels and condos situated near the mountain, Mont Tremblant is also not far from Montreal, making it easy to commute to a major city.
Known for housing some of “the best glades in Canada,” Mont Sutton sits within the Eastern Township of Quebec. The resort features a 1,500-foot vertical drop, 230 acres of skiable terrain, and 60 trails ranging from easy to extreme. The ski area has been family-owned and operated since the 1960s and has 4 mountain chalets for rent each season. There is also a small hotel at the foot of the mountain and a variety of accommodations scattered throughout the Eastern Townships.
Just 40 miles from Quebec City, Mont-Sainte-Anne claims to have “the best rail park in the province.” The resort is tucked in the Laurentian mountain chain and reaches over 2,600 feet above sea level with an insane vertical drop of 2,051 feet. Mont-Sainte-Anne is also home to the largest Cross-Country Ski Centre in Canada that is equipped with 132 miles of trails alone. Overall, the resort contains over 70 trails and covers three sides of the summit.
Bromont is a city located in southwestern Quebec at the foot of Mont Brome. Bromont and its namesake resort, Ski Bromont, are popular destinations for downhill skiing and mountain biking. Ski Bromont, which sits on the slopes of Mont Brome, Mont Spruce, and Pic du Chevreuil, contains over 450 acres of skiable terrain, 113 trails, and 42 glades. This alpine ski resort is one of four major ski centers in the Eastern Townships and is just 45 minutes from downtown Montreal.