Sunday, October 26, 2014

Winter hiking and cross country skiing in Sutton.

Not everyone is a down hill skier but that shouldn't stop you from enjoying fresh air and the lovely scenery around Sutton all through the winter. Depending on the weather you can cross-country ski, snowshoe or hike. 

If the snow is good then head to pleinairsutton.coop (previously Sutton En Haut). Best known for its cross country ski trails, it also has 15km of  beautiful forest trails for snowshoeing and hiking plus access to Lake Mohawk - a terrific hike if you have at least 4 hours available. Located on Maple half way between the village and Mont SUTTON they have good snowshoe and cross country ski equipment rentals too. Give the Sutton Tourist Office a call (1 800 565-8455) for opening hours and conditions but they are normally open daily except for Mondays and Tuesdays.

Snowshoeing  near Lac Mohawk
Continue up Maple and bear left onto chemin Real to get to Parc Sutton. This important environmentally protected zone offers around 50kms of trails for hiking and snowshoeing. Their trails are primarily on the flanks of the Sutton massif i.e. you are nearly always climbing or descending so small snowshoes or crampons plus hiking poles are a really good idea.  

On the other side of the mountain, about 15 minutes from Sutton, is Au Diable Vert. Good hiking and snowshoeing trails plus the possibility of cross country in open forest that is mainly level. Note that the final section of the access road is very steep so unless you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle you should plan on using the lower parking lot (clearly indicated) and walking the 10 minutes up to the lodge. They have snowshoes for rent. At weekends call in advance to reserve rentals.

Continue 20 minutes on past Au Diable Vert, turning left at Dunkin, to reach Reserve naturelle des Montagnes-Vertes. As yet little known, this beautiful area offers 3 hiking circuits of increasing length and difficulty mostly using former logging trails. Terrific for a full day out but take snacks etc as you will almost certainly be there on your own.
Micheline shows off her crampons.

When there is fresh snow it is just a delight to snowshoe, but once trails are packed down crampons really come into their own especially when conditions are icy - even on level terrain. On a day out last year with my friends Micheline and Dan, they were firmly attached to the ground by their crampons whilst in my boots I was slip sliding all over the place and ended up with a large bruise on my shin to prove it.

So, whether or not we are up to our noses in snow, there is no excuse for staying at home. Get out in that fresh air! Hiking is also cheap - a daily access ticket to the places above all cost $6 or less. Here at the B&B I have day passes, crampons for rent and winter hiking packages for all four locations, The Sutton tourist information office at rue Principale opposite the Town Hall sells Parc Sutton tickets and has good information and maps.

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