Walking and hiking have become hugely popular in recent months, as have all kinds of other outdoor sports – a trend that doesn’t look as if it will die away any time soon! That augers well for the Eastern Townships, known for its mountainous terrain and the many sporting activities than can be enjoyed amid our lofty, natural ‘playground’.
A giant zipline on Mont Sutton
Thrill seekers will be happy to know that the longest zipline in the Eastern Townships - indeed, one of the longest in the province of Quebec - is situated in Sutton. The first, one-km long section, starts at the top of the eponymous mountain (accessible by chairlift), while the lower 400-metre stretch descends to Mont Sutton’s base.
In addition to enjoying this exciting activity, visitors can camp at the peak of the mountain. Mont Sutton recently added a few more campsites at 840 metres (2,756 feet) above sea level, with 21 (unserviced) sites and two rustic shelters. After tackling one of the hiking trails (it takes approximately 90 minutes to hike from the base to the top), imagine how wonderful it will be to enjoy a good night’s sleep in the fresh air and then to wake up amid the stunning landscapes of the Eastern Townships and neighbouring Vermont! We also suggest that you bring the ingredients for a gourmet supper of say, flank steak, chicken breast, tofu steak… Yum! (You can cook these yourself on one of the communal fire pits.)
A mountain picnic at Orford
Mont Orford ski station is now offering boxed lunches, which visitors can eat at the base of the mountain or carry with them on a hike. Every weeekend during the summer, by booking at least one day in advance, visitors can choose from a variety of food offerings, mostly local products. There are five lookout points (with picnic tables) at the peak of the mountain where you can enjoy the views as you tuck into your tasty fare. The lookout points are situated at 850 metres (2,789 feet) above sea level and each one offers a slightly different panorama of the countryside far below – a scenic setting with a meal that you don’t have to prepare yourself!
Refurbished trails on the Sentiers de l’Estrie hiking network
After being closed for several years, the summits of Mont Foster and the Tour des Scouts (near Saint-Etienne de Bolton), are once more accessible to hikers. Depending on where you set out for your hike, you can now walk for either four or nine kilometres along these refurbished trails.The mountain environment is very vulnerable and so the trails have been laid out with care, by following the contours of the land and taking into account the habitat of the local flora and fauna.
The Sentiers de l’Estrie website lists several other lesser-known hiking venues :
Yamaska National Park – a family-friendly destination!
Yamaska National Park, a destination which is very popular with families, is offering a slew of activities this summer. One such activity takes place on the Choinière Reservoir where a new (and fast-growing) sport, namely stand-up paddle boarding is being offered to newbies, courtesy of ALOA initiation SUP. A 90-minute session usually lets you gain enough confidence to navigate your board.
There are other options for having fun on the water. Visitors can also rent a variety of craft such as kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, rowboats and paddle boats, steering them from one marker buoy to the next, for a couple of hours.
Yoga sessions on the beach are offered every Saturday – come rain or shine - and for those who enjoy games there’s a new Ninja Warrior-style challenge in the Motion Parc Évolutif section of the park. Situated across from the Reception Centre, this new installation features a series of balance obstacles, an inclined wall and number of other structures. If all that activity leaves you feeling hot and sweaty, you can just dive in to the Choinière Reservoir!
Au Diable Vert expands
The Diable Vert mountain resort has recently acquired two large, forested plots of land, right next to its existing property with a view to expanding the entire site and its network of trails. Future plans include the construction of a four-bedroom unit whose style will be in keeping with its natural surroundings, as well as an 8-km trail that will wind through some old-growth forest with four lookout points. (This new trail brings the total network of walking trails to 22 km.) Last spring, the mountain centre also established a sanctuary for monarch butterflies by planting milkweed – a wild flower that attracts the colourful insects, helping to ensure their survival.
Mountain activities return to Mont Hatley
Mont Hatley (previously Montjoye) is opening two new trails this summer that will allow runners and hikers to climb to the peak. The marked trails wind through forested areas interspersed with open land, offering views across the countryside and Lake Massawippi. There’s also a bootcamp-style obstacle course on the southern flank of the mountain, which was moved from another location. Starting this winter, alpine skiers will be able to practise their skills off-piste and some time during the next two years, luge and mountain biking will also be added to the list of offerings.
To learn more about the region, visit www.easterntownships.org