cross country skiing and snowshoeing In Tremblant, Canada

Canadians have serious winters so they definitely take all of their winter sports seriously. Case in point: the abundant and varied cross country skiing choices available to visitors to the Tremblant region.

More than 260 km of cross-country trails are scattered in the region, most of which are found in Mont Tremblant Cross Country Ski Center (819-425-5588, http://www.skidefondmont-tremblant.com/) and Quebec's largest national park, Parc du Mont-Tremblant (819-688-2281). Trails wind through maple and birch forests and provide views of wildlife and lakes.

There are two networks of marked and groomed trails that wind through maple and birch forests and have spectacular scenery and sometimes wildlife encounters. The Diable network has 10 trails totaling 56 km with six heated huts along the way. The Pimbina network has seven trails, 33 km all together, with two heated huts. Skis and snowshoes are available for rent, and you can also arrange a trip on marked but ungroomed trails to backcountry bunkhouses.

To get away from all civilization, except for a few strategically located heated huts, head to the Parc du Mont-Tremblant and plan to make a day of it (or two days if winter camping and “an intense encounter with our Quebec winter,” as they put it, appeals to you)."Glide into your Dreams" package allows you to stay overnight in one of the huts along the trails and for the more adventurous, there are overnight accommodations in one of four rustic huts on 112 km of backcountry trails that are marked but not groomed.

This vast reserve has two reception centers, complete with ski and snowshoe rentals and 150 km of marked and groomed trails. Pack a lunch and ski out to one of the heated huts; trail loops of varying degrees of difficulty and length may be chosen. If you’re lucky, trail guides will stop by a hut to tell you more about the history and the wildlife of the region.

The Domaine St-Bernard is owned by the Mont-Tremblant Municipality. It offers a network of 90 km of groomed trails, with 35 km groomed for skate skiing. The undulating trails are known for their magnificent vistas, but, alas for the novice skier, the majority of these vantage points are located on diamond and double-diamond trails.

Choose in-village, inn-to-inn trails in the Mont Tremblant/St. Jovite region, a wilderness trek in the nearby Parc du Mont-Tremblant or experience the longest linear park in North America, the 200-kilometer "Le P’tit Train du Nord," that runs from Saint-Jerome through Mont Tremblant to Mont-Laurier. St. Jerome to Ste. Agathe is for xc skiing and Ste. Agathe to Mt. Laurier is more for snowmobiling. This linear park is split into a southern section, the Laurentian Gateway; the Laurentian Heartland, which includes the Laurentides and the towns of Val-Morin, Val-David and Mont-Tremblant; and the northern Upper Laurentians. Many xc skiers see Le P'tit Train du Nord as the jewel of xc ski trails in eastern North America.

Accommodations in this region include Trigonelle B & B in Val-David and Le Chalet Beaumont (819-322-3104, www.chaletbeaumont.com) is also in Val-David and has xc ski rentals. In Sainte-Marguerite-Esterel is the Hotel l'Esterel (450-228-2571, www.1888esterel.com) that is on Lake Dupuis and has 5,000 acres of outdoor playground. The resort has 115 km of groomed xc ski trails and 18 km of groomed snowshoe trails. It rents snowmobiles and has a spa and indoor pool. In Sainte-Adele the Auberge du P'tit du Nord (450-229-2225, www.petit-train-du-nord.com) has 19 rooms, a game room and stone fireplace.

Popular choices for the average cross country skier, who will still get his or her share of magnificent views and occasional sightings of wildlife, include the winding Domaine St. Bernard, the Jack Rabbit and skiing on the Gray Rocks golf course. A portion of Le P’tit Train du Nord linear park is also incorporated into these trails. For a complete guide to the Laurentians see www.laurentides.com

Randonnee Tours (800-465-6488, www.randonneetours.com) is a specialist for organizing self-guided adventures in Canada and Europe. Their adventures are created for independent travelers to suit a skier or snowshoer's expectations and lifestyle. Ski at your own pace with a set itinerary, prepaid accommodations, luggage transfers, and emergency support, if needed.

On the Randonnee Winter Tours, you can experience a variety of winter fun and adventures such as xc skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, sleigh rides, dog sledding, snowmobiling, ice fishing and curling. Start at Sainte-Adele in the Laurentian heartland. XC ski Le P'tit Train du Nord Val moving from village to village. Ski on the trails at Far Hills Inn, then to Val-David and Lac Raymond for 2 nights. Ski along mostly groomed classic ski trails. Minimum ski distances range from 10-13.5 km ski tours.

Parc National d'Oka is in the Laurentians region (450-479-8365, www.sepaq.com) from Colline du Calvaire to Lac des Deux-Montagnes, southwest of Montreal. This is a great choice for the entire family and there are activities for youngsters on the Pinede, a 4 km torch-lit trail groomed for both classic and skate skiing. There are huts, equipment rentals and a restaurant.