You’ll find good opportunities for everything from cross-country skiing to ice-climbing around Québec City, but most popular are the skiing and snowboarding at three resorts – Stoneham, Mont-Sainte-Anne and Le Massif. Some experts in search of big bowls and deep powder might find the terrain limited, but for most, the fine mogul fields, tricky glades, well-thought-out terrain parks and extensive night-skiing more than compensate.
The ski resorts
Only 6km beyond the city limits off Rte 73 is Stoneham (late Dec to mid-March Mon–Fri 9am–9.30pm, Sat & Sun 8.30am–9.30pm; late March to mid-April Mon–Wed 9am–4pm, Thurs & Fri 9am–7pm, Sat 8.30am–7pm & Sun 8.30am–4pm; day-pass $59; t 418 848 2415, t 1 800 463 6888, w ski-stoneham.com), which has limited expert terrain, but is set in a wind-protected horseshoe valley. Despite a minimal vertical drop of 421m and a modest 322 acres of terrain, it has been sculpted into an impressive ski area, thanks partly to its night-skiing operation, which keeps around two-thirds of the resort open after dark; the après ski can get wild.
The largest of Québec City’s ski areas is Mont-Sainte-Anne (late Nov to late April daily 8.30am–4pm; day-pass $75; t 1 888 827 4579, w mont-sainte-anne.com), 40km away via Rte 440, which becomes Rte 138, northeast of town. It offers a well-balanced mix of terrain and comprehensive facilities. Centred on a single peak and covering 428 acres, it’s easily navigable yet still provides a remarkably varied high-density trail system. The presence of novice runs extending from summit to base on both sides of the mountain is handy, while first-timers benefit from free access to bunny slopes adjoining the base area. The resort’s greatest strength is its wealth of intermediate-level runs that make up almost half the ski zone. Most start from the resort’s rapid gondola and follow a smooth and steep grade back to the minimal lift queues. Those hunting for steeper slopes, moguls, trees and high-speed carving should make for a cluster of black diamonds on the south side.
The third main mountain in the area is Le Massif (early Dec to early April opening hours vary throughout the season but are at least 9am–3pm, longer at weekends; day-pass $75; t 418 632 5876, t 1 877 536 2774, w lemassif.com), 75km along Hwy-138 from Québec City. It has some of the most spectacular views of any resort in the world, and despite the presence of a couple of narrow, tricky and busy beginner runs, it’s best at providing wonderful intermediate-level carving slopes. The mountain’s grooming regime puts several black diamond runs within the capacity of intermediates – but watch out for the terrifying triple-diamond La Charlevoix.
Other winter sports
Tubing, ice-skating and an indoor climbing wall are available at Stoneham, while Mont-Sainte-Anne offers ice-skating, snowshoeing, dog-sledding, paragliding, sleigh riding and snowmobiling. The Mont-Sainte-Anne Cross-Country Ski Center (mid-Dec to mid-April Mon–Fri 9am–4pm, Sat & Sun 8.30am–4pm), 7km east of the main ski area, is a splendid local resource and the largest of its kind in Canada, boasting over 220km of cross-country trails. Day-tickets cost $27, rentals another $25. For more of a wilderness experience cross-country skiers should also explore the rolling hills around Camp Mercier. On the fringes of Québec City at Montmorency Falls, is the world’s largest ice-climbing school, L’Ascensation École d’escalade (reservations necessary; from $115 a day; t 418 647 4422, t 1 800 762 4967, w rocgyms.com).
Mont-Sainte-Anne and Stoneham have on-site accommodation, but more convenient are Québec City’s hotels, linked to all the resorts via a ski shuttle, the Ski-Express (round-trips $32; t 418 525 5191, w taxicoop-quebec.com). Services run from eighteen downtown hotels and the tourist information office to both Stoneham and Mont-Sainte-Anne. Le Massif runs a complimentary shuttle that links with the Ski-Express, which departs from Mont-Sainte-Anne’s shuttle parking area. Le Massif is also accessible via Baie-Saint Paul on the Charlevoix Light Rail Train from Parc de la Chute-Montmorency (w lemassif.com/en/train). All three resorts rent equipment (skis or snowboards around $35/day). There’s a better selection of higher-end gear and lower prices in the stores along the highway in Beaupré.