XC at the Domaine Saint-Bernard

Mont Tremblant is a major alpine ski resort just north of Montreal, part of the vast Alterra Mountain Company menu of ski areas, which includes Steamboat, Winter Park, Mammoth Mountain, Deer Valley, Stratton, Sugarbush. Therefore it’s part of the Ikon Pass system. 

 Though it’s well-known to Eastern Canadians, cross country skiing around Mont Tremblant isn’t quite the clichéd “hidden gem” for Nordic skiers in the U.S., but it’s certainly not a byword.  And that’s mildly ridiculous for so many reasons, ranging from extensive, superb terrain and good grooming to opportunity to mix your sports to the fantastic dollar differential between the U.S. and Canada.

Mont Tremblant is a year-round resort in Quebec’s spectacular Laurentian mountains, roughly 1.5 hours northwest of Montreal’s airport, which is served by multiple airlines from American hubs.

For XC visitors interested in history, this is Jackrabbit Johannsen country (so is Lake Placid, incidentally). Famous in Canada but not so much in the U.S., Jackrabbit was a fascinating guy who is justifiably credited with introducing skiing to eastern North America. Still skiing at the age of 102, he died in 1987.  And check out the Canadian Ski Museum while you’re at Mont-Tremblant.

XC in the Mont Tremblant Region

The best pre-trip resource on Mont-Tremblant-region XC skiing – including extremely useful trail maps – is https://www.tremblant.ca/things-to-do/activities/cross-country-skiing

 A typical XC season runs from early December through March; average snowfall is around 135 inches per winter.

 A quick summary: Lots of trails (many of them short), lots of lovely kilometers (100+), many of them with multiple uses – some classic technique only, some classic and skating, exclusively snowshoeing, a number with XC and fat biking or snowshoeing and fat biking or walking.  Overall, there’s a nice mix of “boulevards” and winding narrower routes, many trails passing by many lakes. While most skiing is suited to beginners and intermediates, there’s some challenging stuff too. It’s guaranteed that you won’t get bored. 

There are two trail networks with some parking for easy access. The northern system emanating from the resort (Secteur Tremblant) is smaller, has generally easy trails and several access points, as well as road crossings.  It also connects to the famous P’tit Train du Nord trail (the roadbed was formerly a Canadian Pacific railroad line) via la Villageoise-de-Mont-Tremblant trail; and the system based around the Domaine St.-Bernard, these days a large nature (ecotourism) and recreation complex. The two are connected by the ski-over Pont Jackrabbit over the Devil’s River (Rivière du Diable). 

Secteur Domaine Saint-Bernard has much more extensive skiing, with a day lodge, more diverse terrain (snowshoeing and walking paths too), outstanding viewpoints, and a number of convenient parking points as well as several warming huts. Some trails are groomed for both classic and skating, plus some ungroomed routes. 

There’s also equipment rental as well as the only XC ski school in the region (CANSI-trained instructors), offering both private and group instruction. 

In sum, there’s meadow, forest, mountain views, intriguing rock outcroppings, even riverside skiing… and birds that will feed from your hand.

Accessible by car nearby are another 40-or-so km of groomed trails, along with rustic wood-heated shelters, at Parc National du Mont-Tremblant. Difficulty runs from easy to difficult, with multiple loops. There’s a trail fee, which you can purchase online. 

Other Stuff

Purpose-built Mont Tremblant Village is a European-style village, reminiscent of Whistler Village in BC. You can visit spas or a casino, and enjoy a wide variety of fine dining and local cuisine, Mexican, Lebanese, pizza. Les Moulins Lafayette is one of a Québécois bakery chain… delectable! Plus, the old Mont Tremblant village is a few minutes away with more traditional shops and restaurants. 

As to winter recreation locally, there’s also ice skating on lakes and rinks, hiking and walking, fat biking and now e-fat biking, ice climbing, ice fishing, sledding, sleigh rides, dog sledding, snowmobiling, paintball. And if you also ski alpine, there’s more than 2,000’ of vertical drop on 102 trails. 

 If you’re a cross country skier and part of a group or family, consider staying at Domaine-St.-Bernard’s Farmhouse or Pavillon de Chasse (fully equipped kitchen and full bathrooms but bring your own bedding).

 If you’re splitting your time between XC and alpine and have a little Jackrabbit nostalgia but like more comfort, consider the comfortable Le Johannsen – right in the pedestrian village but not immediately accessing the XC trails. 

 Along with pervasive – and charming – French-Canadian culture, what more could you ask for?


  1. Jack Rabbit also was instrumental in the development of Stokely Resort x-country skiing. This is located in upper Ontario north of SSM.

  2. Thanks Bob! I’ve been to Stokely a couple of times but didn’t know that Jackrabbit was involved with the trails. Also visited Far Hills Inn when it was a XC centre and recall he was a trails founder there too. What a guy!

  3. Thanks Bob. I’ve been to Stokely a couple of times but didn’t know that Jackrabbit was involved with their trails. Also visited Far Hills Inn when it was a XC Centre and enjoyed his trails there. What a guy!

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