Nature lovers, here’s a weekend getaway just for you!
The Papineau-Labelle Wildlife Reserve is known for its 100 km of groomed trails, fishing, hunting and recreational options. Did you know you can also spend the night there? Tested and approved by two novice cross-country skiers!
Destination: Our overnight shelter at the Papineau-Labelle Wildlife Reserve
It’s -20 degrees, the snow is lashing our faces, it’s pitch dark all around … Our woodland idyll is starting out on a somewhat challenging note.
To get to our hut, we choose the main trail, groomed by snowmobiles, to minimize our chances of getting lost in the dark and the storm. 10 km of skiing and 2 hours later, the Vieux-Foyer hut appears before our grateful eyes. The fire is already crackling in the fireplace, the only sound in the silence. Alone in the world, we enjoy a fondue prepared on the gas stove, by the light of solar-powered lamps.
The next morning, dazzled, we set out to explore our beautiful surroundings. Overnight, more than 10 cm of pristine snow have fallen on Lake Ernest, and the trees are bowed under its weight. At least the temperature is a little milder for our return trip!
We have a choice of several novice and intermediate trails. None of them are groomed, except for the ones maintained by the Skira ski club, which manages more than 40 km of mixed-use trails (cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and hiking). We opt for the trails through the woods, buried under powder snow, and follow the shore of Lake Ernest for almost 10 km, a route that takes us 30 minutes longer than our outward journey.
A family-friendly outdoor experience
The shelters are located between 6 and 17 km from the reception area, where the parking lot is located. So it’s easy to bring the kids! With your family, with a large group or as a couple, get out your cross-country skis, snowshoes or fatbikes and set off on an expedition!
The reserve offers several kinds of accommodation: cabins, ready-to-camp, canoe-camping, camping … In winter, 11 huts with a capacity of 2 to 15 people offer an escape from the daily grind.
We choose to ski as a couple (read: in silence). If we’d brought the children, we would have booked the Chalet du Diable, only 6 km from the Gagnon reception area. The people in the hut closest to ours chose to bring their brood: the 10-km trip in took them 4 hours. The kids have nothing but good things to say about their experience. Most of all, they loved skiing down the small slopes!
A stay with children is made much easier by the free baggage transport service and the safe and well-supervised environment. The staff treat us like VIPs, and they ensure that everyone gets to their destination (except for departures after 6 p.m.).
There are other beautiful shelters in the heart of nature in the Outaouais, summer and winter.
Book your overnight stay in the Papineau-Labelle Wildlife Reserve
Papineau-Labelle Wildlife Reserve (Gagnon reception area)
December 27, 2019 to March 15, 2020
Rates for wilderness huts: Adult: $31.75 per night | Child (age 6 to 17): $23.81 per night | Free for children age 5 and under
Services available: Baggage transportation ($). Snowmobiles are prohibited.