Next weekend: Spring skiing at Mont Tremblant is not to be missed
Although the peaks are not quite as high as those in Western Canada, there is some serious spring fun to be had in the east, especially in the largest ski areas such as Mont Tremblant.
Tremblant, often regarded as the best ski resort in Eastern North America, was in full spring ski mode when we took a few laps in March. And it was breathtaking as usual.
The resort area sprawls out into the surrounding towns and countryside, which offers plenty of charm and nostalgia while also presenting several other fantastic options for everything from food and lodging to activities when life in the ski village just isn’t enough. We say, mix it up.
The resort, located about an hour north of Montreal in the Laurentian Mountains, has an impressive total slope length of more than 80 kilometres — the biggest in the east by far — as well as a whopping 600 acres of ski terrain. And, as spring continues, having more slope and more skiable area means the chances that skiing will continue longer is pretty good.
Yes, spring skiing is different. No, there won’t be all the fresh powder, but they're also won’t be the bone-chilling cold.
We did glean a few good ski tips during a recent visit that pertain directly to spring skiing.
First, Tremblant does a good job of storing up snow along the slopes here and there to be spread out and groomed into trails during the spring to extend the season as long as possible. When we visited, although it was quite warm, and a few hardy souls were skiing in shorts, the trails were just fine by Eastern Canada standards and the warmth even soften up a few of the icy spots.
At that point, every trail was open, more than 100 in total. But as the warm days add up, the number of trails that remain open will begin to drop.
Second, the lower half of the mountain, both on the north and south sides, gets soft and gets soft quickly during the spring. Smart skiers will take the gondola up to the top and concentrate their days on skiing the top half and taking one of the 14 lifts back up without going all the way to the bottom.
Start on the north side of the mountain where the crowds are much smaller. Ski until lunch at the north base, which is cute and isn’t overrun.
Often the more difficult trails will close down earlier than other runs, so if they are open get to them while you can.
Third, if it’s raining, don’t worry be happy. It does rain in the spring, it usually means warmer temperatures, but the skiing is decent and the slopes will be all but empty. So take advantage.
There is a good variety of terrain at Tremblant although it does favour those of a solid intermediate level and up. But, the resort does attract plenty of beginners and those green hills do fill up quickly. So, if one could handle the blues and the blacks, all the better.
Our favourite runs were the blues on the north side, where we spent most of our ski days.
When it’s finally time to make it down to the base, the ski village is chockablock with aprés-ski fun. It’s a festive atmosphere, especially in the springtime, when bars and restaurants around the square open up the patios and the sounds of fun, laughter, and the occasional disco tune hang on the warm air.
There are also a number of fun spring events happening including the legendary Coupe Caribou on April 4. The Caribou Cup attracts the daring few who try their luck at riding across a pond on skis or snowboard (see below).
In addition to having fun on the slopes, take time to explore the surrounding areas. There are plenty of charming small hotels such as Le Grand Lodge Tremblant that offer fine accommodations as well as splendid dining options.
Head to Old Tremblant Village for a taste of nostalgia and some fine gastro-pub options. Situated on the shores of Lake Mercer between the resort and downtown Tremblant once called Saint-Jovite.
Old Tremblant Village is home to a few bicycle shops as well including Cykel, where we rented e-fat bikes for a day of touring on Le Petit Train du Nord.
The bikes were amazing, and perfectly suited to handle the snowy and icy terrain. The owner of the shop guided our crew on a fantastic two-hour adventure along the glorious off-road cycling route and some side routes that offer some more daring single-track adventures for those ready to take it up a notch. We even met some wildlife on the trails.
We followed up our ride with lunch at the always amazing Le Sandwicherie, a must-try when in the area. There is also a little gallery in town, a nice brasserie, and a cute old-timey hotel with a well-appointed restaurant.
The other dining finds worth mentioning is the incredible Italian restaurant Mille Pâtes Restaurant. This one is so charming, and the homemade pasta dishes are large and incredible. Perfect fuel for active travellers.
Tremblant is a busy resort, but other than March Break, it should be much quieter than during the wintertime. Take advantage by getting a few laps on the slopes and soaking in the atmosphere and charm of the area.
Looking for more great spring skiing ideas, check out this article.