Winter is an ideal time to bundle up inside with your loved one, but it’s also a perfect time to explore the outdoors. At Parc National Mont-Mégantic in Québec you can do both in the dreamiest of settings. Thanks to the incredible chalet system at the park, there are lots of opportunities to get cozy between your outdoor explorations. If you’re looking for a peaceful, secluded winter retreat for you and your love, look no further.
Thanks to a unique combination of environmental conditions, this park receives 30% more snow than the surrounding region. That’s a lot of snow! So get ready to ditch the slushy city and immerse yourself in a true winter wonderland.
The park of Mont-Mégantic is situated within an International Dark Sky Reserve, with virtually no light pollution in the region surrounding the park. This results in benefits for the local flora and fauna, as well as a jaw-dropping view of the stars for visitors like us. From the moment you step outside at night, you’ll be mesmerized by the glittering star scape all around you. Standing in the snow not your idea of a cozy night? No problem. All cabins in the park have floor to ceiling windows, so you can pick out constellations from the comfort of your pajamas and a roaring fire.
The park’s EXP cabins seem to be made for a couple’s retreat – modern “tiny-home” style accommodations nestled at a good distance from one another amongst the snow-covered trees. These cabins may be small, but they have everything you need: a kitchen equipped to cook a gourmet dinner (or pop a meal in the microwave); a bathroom for hot showers at the end of long days outside; a bedroom area complete with reading lamps; and a bright beautiful dining area right beside the wood stove. With a cabin this nice, even avid outdoors people will want to stay in, kick their feet up, and watch the winter world go by.
The cabin has windows everywhere, so from the moment you wake up until the moment you fall asleep you feel connected to nature. You’re surrounded by quiet and beauty, and families of adorable deer!
Now for the outdoors! The extensive winter trail system is full of so many beautiful views, it’s hard to stop snapping photos. The snow, the trees, the hills – oh my! Snowshoes can be used on these trails, though they may be packed down enough by other hikers to go without.
While the trails are well used, the park is so big that you’ll rarely cross paths with other hikers. Each awe-inspiring view pictured here you’re likely to take in all by yourselves – so you and your love can “ooh” and “aaah” and smooch to your heart’s content.
TOP HIKES AT MONT-MÉGANTIC
- Sentier des Cimes – 11km loop – The name means Trail of the Summits, which really says it all. This is your trail if you’re a fan of awe-inspiring panoramic look-outs, as well as frozen waterfalls and beautiful meandering creeks. While it takes 3.5 to 5.5 hours to walk, it’s not too strenuous (though, of course, strenuous enough to justify eating lots of Québec cheeses and chocolates back at your cabin).
- Montée du Dragon, Promenade du Ruisseau, etc – If you’re interested in something shorter, many of the views in the Sentier des Cimes can be reached with a 2 to 4km round trip walk.
- Mont Mégantic Loop – 11km loop – The highest peak in the park! A bit more strenuous, but worth it for the forests turned into works of art by glistening ice crystals and blankets of white. Not to mention the top! The top is a marshmallow world – trees buckling and bending under the weight of all the snow. The observatory at the top isn’t open during the winter, but the sci-fi like architecture emerging from the snowscape is an impressive sight.
- Trois Sommets (Three Summits) Trail – If you’re interested in making the Mont Mégantic hike a bit longer and working your muscles even more, you can opt for the full Trois Sommets loop. You’ll get views from two other peaks, and a 15km hike total.
Where you may encounter other people is at the warming hut at the top of Mont-Mégantic. After a hike up the highest peak in the park, and a wind-swept look at the stunning surroundings, you’ll be pleased to enter a cozy hut full of other happy hikers. While warming your feet by the fire and sipping on a thermos of hot chocolate, you may get to practice your french and get some suggestions for your next adventure in the La Belle Province. Merci beaucoup!
For those interested in cross-country skiing – there are lots of options for all levels of experience. From short, relatively flat trails, to long loops full of challenging uphills and exhilarating downhills. There are lots of warming huts along the trails that you can pop into if you cool off too much on a downhill section. These are perfect spots to eat a packed lunch (hint: wrap your sandwiches in tinfoil so you can heat them up in the fire) and warm your insides with the contents of your thermos (extra hint – it can be more than just hot chocolate).
After an adventurous couple’s getaway in the wilderness of Mont-Mégantic you’ll be glowing, just like the fire warming your toes and the stars twinkling above you.
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Photo Credit: Zoë Barrett Wood
About the Author: Zoë is a writer, actor, comedian and environmental scientist. She performs on stages across North America, stars in films, and keeps the laughter rolling with her sketch, improv and stand-up comedy as well as her weirdo animal Instagram posts. She facilitates arts-based community building and conflict resolution workshops that employ improv and theatre. In her spare time she travels around the world to hike, camp, spy on animals, and find all the best cafés and second-hand bookstores. Instagram: @zoebarrettwood