Quebec is home to several mountain ranges including the Laurentides, Appalaches and the Chic-Chocs, which give this province some very enticing backcountry — often without the crowds found in the Rockies or the Coastal Ranges.
Parc national d'Aiguebelle
During winter, the secluded backcountry of Parc national d'Aiguebelle really makes you feel alone in the world. The 270-sq-km area often treats cross country skiers and snowshoers to breath-taking views of massive moose and wolves. With hills covering two-thirds of the park, visitors should be prepared for a brutal workout, but the winter sights are definitely worth it. For downhill skiers itching for some backcountry action, Aiguebelle offers often-untracked slopes near the highest summit, Mount Dominant.
Parc national de la Gaspésie
As home to the second highest peak in Quebec — Mont Jacques Cartier — Parc national de la Gaspésie is a prized ski destination. While there is plenty of unmarked backcountry skiing, Gaspésie is a great place for newbies as well, with six marked trails. It is a great place to ease the transition from resort to backcountry skiing. However, for those that are already experienced, there is plenty of wilderness as well as 15 huts scattered around the park.
Réserve Faunique de Papineau-Labelle
Réserve Faunique de Papineau-Labelle is uniquely located in the Laurentides Mountains, in the southernmost wildlife reserve in Quebec. Admittedly, Papineau-Labelle does not have much in terms of downhill skiing. However for cross-country skiers and snowshoers, there is are few places more backcountry than Papineau-Labelle. Wildlife sightings abound, as do ski and snowshoe trails for the novice and advanced — including some marked routes.
Parc national de la Yamaska
Parc national de la Yamaska is located in the rolling hills of the Appalachian Lowlands, and much of the backcountry has challenging circuits for experienced skiers to weave through towering maple, pine and fir trees. However, keep in mind there is only a singular warming hut located in the lonely wilderness. For those who want to cross-country ski or snowshoe Yamaska, there is no shortage of sights to see. Throughout the year, Yamaska attracts scores of birdwatchers so don't be surprised to spot a few people just standing around, looking into the trees. There are also more than a 150 different woodland species to keep an eye out for — including moose, white-tailed deer and wolves.
The Chic-Chocs Mountains is Quebec's most popular backcountry skiing location. Many backcountry enthusiasts take off from the town of Cap-Chat on Quebec's Gaspé Peninsula into hundreds of square-kilometres of unspoiled wilderness — whether for snowshoeing across the wind-blasted plateaus, skiing down from the summit of Mount Matawees or cross-country skiing through the endless wilderness. There are several small huts to accommodate multi-day adventures; however for those that want a little more comfort, the Chic-Chocs Mountains is home to Quebec's only backcountry lodge — Chic-Chocs Mountain Lodge (pictured).