Located north of Quebec City, the city of Saguenay is along the Saguenay River that joins the St. Lawrence River. With an abundance of snow each winter, this area offers lots of outdoor activities along with a national park. As an area that most travelers are unfamilar, it offers a more European flair than most other winter destinations in North America. Visitors will enjoy a pristine boreal forest, known for its beauty and peacefulness. The area offers an ideal location for outdoor winter activities like a guided snowshoe trek through a postcard or learn to mush on a dogsled trek. After a day in the forest, visitors can sample the flavors of the boreal forest or Quebecois favorites then retreat a cabin or chalet for an unforgettable winter escape with this 3 day Itinerary for Saguenay, Canada in winter.
What to do in Saguenay during the Winter
Located about 200 km (120 miles) from Quebec City, Canada, Saguenay is part of the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region. Originally settled as Chicoutimi, a French trading post for fur trappers in 1676, it offers more French speakers than Montreal or even Quebec City,
For your trip, be sure to pack high quality winter outdoor gear for your winter weekend, including ski gear and mid calf snow boots.
Day 1 Arrive at Cap au Leste
For the first of the 3 day Itinerary for Saguenay Canada in Winter, stay at the local chalet. Set among the pines and along the shores of the Saguenay Fjord, guests will enjoy the rustic, yet refined ambience of a secluded inn. With several chalets for your winter retreat, each offers with a variety of rooms with a common area outside your ensuite room. Most area outfitted with cozy seating, a stove and small library to sit back and savor the views of the Saguenay Fjord.
The Mukushan is located on-site in the main lodge and offers hot meals. Combing Canadian and boreal influences, the meals are created by a French chef. Starting with a breakfast buffet, guests can enjoy all their meals at The Mukushan, including lunch. The dinner services is three courses.
After dinner, guests can savor a night cap with a view of the fjord, like a Sortilege, a whisky maple drink. Beer drinkers might want to sample one of the locally brewed beers.
Located downstairs, guests can slip into the heated indoor pool for swim. Afterwards, guests can take in the view from its sauna that boasts windows overlooking the fjord. It is one of the top experiences at the Cap au Leste.
For adventures during the day on Cap au Leste’s property, guests can get outfitted with snowshoes to explore the pristine landscape. Or for a unique Quebecious experiences, guests can arrange a dogsled trek through the backcountry with a team of huskies. Snowmobiling is also available at Cap au Leste. All winter activities start at the main lodge building.
Cap au Leste is located at 555 Chemin du Cap a l’Est in Sainte-Rose-du-Nord. It’s 39 km from Saguenay and 43 km from Monts-Valin National Park.
Day 2 Monts-Valin National Park
For the second of the 3 day Itinerary for Saguenay Canada in Winter, visit a national park. With 154 square kilometers (59 square miles) of boreal wilderness, explore the snow-kissed woodland by snowshoe, ski or bike. Regardless which mode of transportation you choose, the Discovery and Visitors Centre offers equipment and guidance for your trip along with an interpretive center.
Monts Valin National Park is located at 360 rang Saint-Soice in Saint-Fulgence, north of Saguenay Fjord. Reservations are required to enter Monts Valin National Park and available 30 days in advance. Admission for adults only ($9.25 CAN), kids under 18 are free. Equipment rental is extra with hourly and daily rates available. Snowcat Shuttle is available for an additional fee and reservations are required. For more information, visit the Sepaq website.
Snow Sports in Monts-Valin
For easy and scenic snowshoeing trek, try the Lac des Péres, an easy 3-km loop that starts at the Discovery Center. This loop offers a scenic and level snowshoeing experience, great for beginners.
For an epic snowshoeing experience, head to the Vallée-des Fantômes. It’s a 6.5-km intermediate trail with a warming hut along the trail and the trail ends at the Pavillon Antoine Dubuc, a cabin and warming hut.
For the most adventurous trip, reserve a guide and go off the trail. The backcountry guide will explain how to ascend mountains then glide down while wearing snowshoes. The blowing snow covers the trees with a fine, glistening snow and they bend like something from a Dr. Seuss book. On a clear day visitors can see the top of Pic Dubuc.
To snowshoe the Valley of the Phantoms, visitors should reserve the Snowcat Shuttle service in advance. One departure during the week and two times during the weekend. Pack plenty of water along with a hearty lunch and snacks since none are available during the excursion. Dress in layers and googles are advised for snowy or windy days. Snow shoes available from $18 CAN a ay for rent.
Note: The guide speak in French primarily. Tours run from mid December until mid March.
Cross Country Skiing in Monts-Valin
Find five cross country skiing loop trails in Monts-Valin National Park. There’s a 2 km easy trail to a 12 km difficult trail. Trails are maintained on weekends and during holiday breaks.
Back Country Skiing
For those who enjoy back country skiing, explore the landscape on one of 71 km of unmarked and unpacked trails. Be sure to pack a map.
Where to Stay in Mont Valins National Park
Located close, the cabins at Mont Valins National Park are the ideal location. They are heated and furnished with bedding, living and dining furniture along with a wood-burning stove plus dry firewood.
Day Three Snowmobile Tour of Saguenay
For the final day of the 3 day Itinerary for Saguenay Canada in Winter, ditch the car and explore Saguenay with a snowmobile. Start with the experts at Contact Nature for equipment and a guide to explore.
Snowmobiling Lesson with Contact Nature
As a nonprofit offering recreational activities for locals as well as tourists in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean area, start your day here. First get outfitted with speciality gear, like heavy and padded jackets, snowpants and gloves. Then get an snowmobiling lesson before heading out on snowmobile trail.
Contact Nature is located at 7400 Chemin des Chutes in La Baie. Licensed drivers only and reservations required.
Other Winter Activities with Contact Nature
Contact Nature provides guides and rentals for other winter activities too.
The best way to experience this sport is in a heated hut. With the guides from Contact Nature, learn how to bait your hook then sit back and wait for the fish to bite. Heaters are available for the fishing huts and they are quite cozy even on the coldest days.
Since the fjord is tidal, the huts rise and lower according to the tides. Reservations required for day of night ice fishing sessions.
Snowshoeing and Cross Country Skiing
Visitors can cross country ski at the Bec Scie Nature Center with over 20 km of marked trails from beginner to advanced. Traditional cross country skiing trails are available along with an area to skate ski.
Snow shoeing is also available at the Bec Scie Nature Center with four different trails.
Snowmobile around La Baie
With all the snow in Quebec, it is posssible to snowmobile around the town of La Baie. In fact, La Baie features the third largest trail network in Quebec.
The Summit Circuit is the trail to use to get around the town. Along the route, get equal doses of winter landscape along with must dos of Saguenay.
Explore the Musee du Fjord
To learn more about the region and the fjord, guests should visit the Musee du Fjord. First up, its 53,000-liter saltwater aquarium displays what lives in the Saguenay Fjord. Then visitors can see some marine species up close in the tidal tank, located next to the aquarium.
The Navis multi-media show Journey into the Heart of the Saguenay Fjord. With aerial, land and underwater images to learn more about the fjord. The Vivarium offers a selection on unique (and colorful) insects from around the Quebec province. In addtion to the permanent exhibits, the Musee du Fjord offers temporary exhibits covering several themes.
Located at 3346 Boulevard de la Grand Baie Sud in La Baie. Adult admission is $16.80 CAN, students (18+) are $12.85 CAN and kids (6 to 17) are $9.45 CAN with kids 5 and younger entering for free. Winter hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends, closed on Mondays.
How to Get Saguenay
To get to the region, the easiest way is to fly into Saguenay-Bagotville Airport (YBG) with service from major Canadian cities on Air Canada.
To drive to Saguenay, it’s located about two-and-half hour’s northeast of Quebec City.
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Consideation for brands mentioned. This trip was hosted by Quebec Original.