Snowshoe in Quebec's Valley of the Phantoms

Rate this Adventure 4.3 miles 984.3 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Rachel Bertsch

77km of trails in snow so deep, it buries the forest.

Long after the hiking season is done, winter brings with it a new opportunity high on the hills of Monts-Valin National Park. A snowy network of trails that zig and zag between the black spruce and pines that are typical of a boreal landscape. Of the 77 km or 48 miles of trails to pick, the Valley of the Phantoms would be the number one choice.

With an annual snowfall of over six metres, or almost 20 feet, the snow buries the landscape bathing the giant trees in a white cloak, giving the trail an affectionately named the valley of the phantoms, or snow ghosts.

The trailhead is reached by snowcat in winter, with the shuttle departing in the morning from the visitor centre. Reservations are recommended as this trail tends to be a ‘must do’ for many locals visiting the Saguenay region of Quebec, where the trail is located.  Climbing up the road towards the top of the Monts-Valin massif, you’ll leave behind a patchwork of maple and aspen trees to discover a thicker snow base and a drop off directly at the trailhead.

Following a well marked trail and climbing a few hundred metres over the span of 3 km one way, the easy but steady climb has one pit stop half way at a warming hut equipped with picnic tables and a wood fire stove. Continuing on to the viewpoint is critical. Shaped by a fault line and glacial activity thousands of years ago, the peak of the massif overlooks the lowlands, fjord and lakes that spread across Saguenay for as far as the eye can see.

From here, you can return to the warming hut, return to the chalets that are rented by the night (which is also the rendezvous point with the shuttle at 4pm), or go ‘off piste’ to snowshoe in insanely deep powder. Light and fluffy, it is a joy to frolic in, but just watch out as the five metre snowpack means you might be walking on some buried trees and can fall in easily. Don’t be surprised if you’re waist deep in snow before you know it.

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