Favorite getaway destination of Montrealers, the Laurentian Mountains are a haven of nature. With incredible waterfalls, cute villages, stunning lakes, and spectacular forests, the Laurentians offer a wide range of activities and are a fantastic spot to escape the hustle of the city. I was lucky to spend a weekend there, which was enough to discover a bit of what the region has to offer. Below, you’ll find a few tips on what to do, where to stay and what to visit on a summer weekend getaway to the beautiful Laurentian Mountains in Quebec.
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How to get to the Laurentian Mountains
The Laurentian Mountains aren’t the easiest place to access without a car. However, Autobus Galland runs buses between Montreal and Mont Laurier. They stop at several locations in the Laurentian Mountains including Saint Sauveur, Sainte Agathe, and Mont Tremblant. It takes around 3 hours to go from Montreal to Mont Tremblant, and you can find one-way tickets for as low as $32 in summer. So, it’s quite a good deal. The only thing is, once you are in Tremblant or any other town in the Laurentians, it’s very hard to get around without a car. I would recommend taking the bus if you plan on visiting only Tremblant village or any other village. If you wanted to visit national parks or reserves, you would definitely need to rent a car.
Another option would be to take a day tour. Gankor offers day tours to Mont Tremblant where you’ll get the opportunity to enjoy everything Tremblant village has to offer. Your knowledgeable guide will tell you everything about the area. And you can spend your free time in town as you wish. This is a good option for a hassle-free day trip. Click here to book a day tour to Mont Tremblant.
With that being said, driving is definitely the best and easiest way to get to the Laurentians. For that reason, we decided to rent a car for the weekend. We also wanted to be able to visit remote areas of the region. We chose to go with Budget, a popular and affordable car rental company in North America. They have several locations in Montreal. We went to their Papineau avenue office, which I definitely recommend. They offer good and efficient service.
How to spend the perfect summer weekend in the Laurentian Mountains
There are many things to do in all four seasons in this beautiful region and there are several areas of interest. We really wanted to enjoy the calm of nature and discover the natural wonders of Quebec during our short weekend so my itinerary is best for nature lovers, hikers and those who want to relax for a few days.
Day 1: Parc of the Doncaster River, Val-David
We left Montreal early in the morning and after a couple of hours drive, we decided to stop in the Parc de la Rivère Doncaster in Saint Adele. This park is well-known from the locals, but not so much from the tourists. In fact, Parc de la Rivère Doncaster is definitely one of the hidden gems of the Laurentians. Easily accessible by car, the park offers a wide range of activities including hiking, fishing or snowshoeing in winter. There is a $7 entry fee for adults ($3 for children over 5, and $5 for people over 65) if you’re not a resident of Saint Adele. In summer, the reserve is open every day from 7am to 5pm.
This stunning natural area is home to over 10 kilometers of hiking trails, which are all easy or intermediate level. We spent around 4 hours walking in the park – I think we walked almost all the trails – and had a picnic near the river where locals where fishing. The Parc de la Rivère Doncaster is also a great spot for those who enjoy observing birds or taking photos.
After having a great time at the Parc de la Rivère Doncaster, we decided to go to Val-David, a cute village only 15 minutes drive from there. It is well-known from cyclists who ride along the “Petit Train du Nord”, a linear rail trail of 232 kilometers. We explored this charming village with its small shops where we found local arts and crafts. Don’t miss the hippie shop called Equinoxe and the beautiful soap shop “Les Savonnieres de Val David” located right in front of the Metro supermarket.
Finally, we took a stroll in the Parc Des Amoureux before heading for dinner to the cozy Baril Roulant, a small traditional hotel-restaurant where we also stayed for the night. Located by the river, the restaurant offers amazing food and beers in a great atmosphere. They propose a range of homemade meals with local products, including the famous Poutine, Quebec’s traditional dish.
The hotel rooms at the Baril Roulant are very cozy, cute and the whole place has a rustic homey feel. All rooms have a private bathroom, and they are equipped with a TV, airconditioning and a coffee machine. They also offer free wifi throughout the property. I absolutely loved staying at the Baril Roulant and would recommend it to anyone going to Val-David.
Day 2: Tremblant village, Mont Tremblant National Park
We left Val-David after breakfast and headed to the town I had always dreamed of visiting, Tremblant.
Tremblant Village is a European style resort nestled in the Laurentian Mountains. With its colorful buildings, stunning hiking trails and vibrant atmosphere, Tremblant is a must-see. It’s a small village, but there is certainly no lack of things to do.
Once we arrived in Tremblant, we wandered the village, admired the beautiful houses with colored roofs, and browsed the multiple shops and restaurants. You’ll find local arts and craft, traditional restaurants and other souvenir shops. The best way to explore the village is to walk down the hill and take the free gondola to go all the way back up.
If you’re visiting Tremblant in summer, you can try the skyline luge, spend an evening admiring the light projections in the forest at Tonga Lumina or go to the casino for a fun night out. For a relaxing time, I recommend heading to the Scandinave Spa, a luxurious place to immerse yourself in the beauty and serenity of Mont Tremblant.
For the nature lovers out there, there are hiking trails around the village. We hiked the Sentier Les Ruisseaux, a short and easy trail that follows the water stream around the resort. It took us to the top of a hill overlooking the village, a fantastic spot to watch the sunset.
We had lunch at the Milles Pates, a Mediterranean style restaurant. Their homemade pasta is excellent, so it’s a great place for foodies. While in Tremblant, don’t forget to try a beavertail, a traditional Canadian fried dough pastry.
In the afternoon, we headed to Mont Tremblant National Park, probably the most stunning natural area in Quebec. If you’re only going to the Laurentian Mountains for one day, I definitely recommend spending it in this national park. The nature reserve is split into 3 sectors: La Diable, Pimbina, and l’Assomption. There is an entry fee to the park of $8.75 per person.
If you’re visiting in the summer, like we did, be aware that there are tons of mosquitoes. And by tons, I mean literally you’ll be walking with a horde of 15-20 mosquitoes around you at all times, so be prepared!
Since we only had half a day there, we decided to explore the area of La Diable which is the closest from Tremblant village. We went to La Roche viewpoint. This 5,4 kilometers hike is quite easy and you will be rewarded with the most amazing view of the surrounding mountains, river, and forests. It’s a spectacular panorama that is definitely worth the effort. It takes around 2 hours return to hike this trail.
Then, we chose to head to La Chute du Diable, a stunning waterfall. The waterfall is a short 15 minutes walk from the car park. The short trail follows a river until a 15-meter waterfall that is very impressive. It’s a fantastic short hike that’ll give you a good idea of what Mont Tremblant National Park is all about.
At night, we stayed at the Auberge Sauvignon, located 20 minutes walk from the village of Tremblant. In fact, the walk offers stunning views of the area, passing a waterfall and lake. Auberge sauvignon was a great place to stay for the night, and also included a generous continental breakfast. Click here to book Auberge Sauvignon.
We headed back to Montreal in the morning.
What to pack for a trip to the Laurentian Mountains in summer
Bug jacket: Well, I know a bug jacket doesn’t look pretty but honestly that’s the one thing I wish I took with us. This Coghlan’s bug jacket will protect you not only against mosquitoes but also ticks, spiders and other bugs. It’s lightweight and easy to carry, so I definitely recommend carrying one at all times in the Laurentian Mountains if you’re visiting in summer. Alternatively, you can just get the head net.
Mosquito repellent: Even if you’re covered with nets, you should spray them with mosquito repellent before heading to the woods. Try to get a DEET free repellent as it is more eco-friendly.
ExOfficio Bugs Away Shirt: This shirt has an insect shield technology built it. This safari-style blouse also has a ventilation system to keep you cool and protected. With its lightweight, quick-drying and comfortable fabric, this blouse is a must-have on your adventures to the Laurentian Mountains.
Bugs Away Convertible Cargo Pants: These convertible cargo pants are made of nylon, and also features an insect shield technology. They even provide sun protection up to UPF 30+ and have security zip pockets to secure your belongings.
Hat: It can get quite hot in Quebec during the summer, so don’t forget to bring a decent hat with you. I personally wear a safari hat when I go hiking for best UV protection.
Sunglasses: Don’t forget to bring polarized sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun. The sun in Quebec can be quite intense.
Sunscreen: I always recommend getting Sun Bum sunscreen. This product is reef-friendly, vegan and protects very well against UV rays. Even though you’re not going to the beach, I still recommend using a reef-safe sunscreen in case you go swimming in a lake.
When is the best time to visit the Laurentian Mountains
The Laurentian mountains are an all four-seasons destination. I don’t think there is the best time to visit this beautiful region, but you might want to plan your visit depending on what you want to do.
Summer: I visited in summer, the weather was warm, and the sun was shining. However, summer is the busiest time of the year in the Laurentian Mountains so you’ll be with the crowd if you decide to visit at this time of the year.
Fall: In the fall, the weather is cool and humid. However, it’s a great time to visit the Laurentian Mountains if you’re into photography. You’ll love seeing the tree leaves turn yellow and orange.
Winter: In winter the Laurentian Mountains offer a wide range of activities from skiing to snowboarding or even snowshoeing and dog sledding.
Spring: Spring might be the best time to visit the Laurentians. At this time of the year, flowers blossom and wildlife is out. However, this time of the year is still pretty wet.
The Laurentian Mountains are definitely one of the most beautiful places to visit in Quebec. If you’re in Montreal looking for a getaway weekend, I definitely recommend going there. Have you ever been to the Laurentian Mountains? Let me know in the comments below!
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