Snowshoeing, spelunking and ziplining at Arbraska Laflèche
I’ve always been a nature lover and a fan of unusual activities, so when my friends suggested a visit to Arbraska Laflèche, I accepted immediately! I’d never been there before, but I’d heard a lot about it and I was eager to try the experience. I loved the perfect blend of the outdoors, adventure, science and history.
A zip line run
Our day began in style with a zip line run. On arrival at the site, we were greeted by a friendly team who gave us a detailed description of the equipment we’d be wearing and answered any questions we had. Once our harnesses were on and our helmets secured, our guide, Everest, checked the equipment a second time and we headed to the zip line’s starting platform.
Once on the platform and seeing the distance from the start to the finish, I suddenly felt like chickening out. I was the last in line to make the descent, and after watching my friends launch themselves down the cable one after the other, I panicked when my turn came. Our guide was very gentle and handled the situation brilliantly: she was reassuring, listened to my fears in a caring way and encouraged me enthusiastically. Thanks to her advice and encouragement, I screwed up my courage and jumped! The zip line goes over a frozen lake and the view is just beautiful. The feeling was incredible: it was like flying, and I felt completely safe.
In winter, especially in the morning, snow can accumulate on the zip line. To avoid getting snow in your face on the way down, bring your ski or snowboard goggles. The experience will be even more enjoyable.
Still laughing at each other’s reactions, we headed to the main lodge to remove our equipment.
Snowshoeing along the trails
After putting on our snowshoes, we made our way to the marked trails. The Arbraska Laflèche property has more than 10 kilometres of trails. Near the trailhead there was a slight slope, but the terrain quickly levelled out and it was easier to walk without too much effort.
Some of the trees along the trail have riddles pinned to them. We got into the spirit of the game and tried to solve them as we walked along. Some are more difficult than others! The answers can be found at the lodge. I thought it was a great way to keep everyone entertained on the walk.
The forest was peaceful, and the trail we followed ran alongside a lake. We stopped for awhile to contemplate the landscape and listen to our guide’s commentary. After about an hour in the woods, we returned to the main lodge.
As we warmed up by the wood stove and sipped our hot chocolate (loaded with marshmallows, naturally), we looked up the answers to the tantalizing riddles.
In this rest area there’s a display case of artifacts that have been found in the Laflèche Cave over the years.
Deep in the underground cave
For the next activity, our guide gave each of us a helmet with a headlamp. After checking that all the headlamps were working, we headed to an outdoor shelter. Our guide gave us some basic information about the Laflèche Cave and the type of rock it is made of.
At the entrance to the cave, in the Time Tunnel, we could see many little brown bats, which are about the size of a golf ball. They spend the winter hibernating in the cave, where the temperature is between 4 and 7 degrees Celsius, even in midwinter. Because of the condensation in the tunnel, some of the bats looked like little disco balls!
After the tunnel, we entered the Rain Room, where we observed a water siphon. We then moved on to the Music Room, which is named for a particular rock wall whose length allows vibrations to make sounds when you hit the rock with your hand.
To reach the next space, the Waiting Room, we climbed many narrow stairs. In this room there were rocks on which our guide invited us to sit down. She asked us to turn off our headlamps, and we found ourselves in total darkness. I’d never seen (or not seen!) anything like it. We spent a few minutes in the dark, listening carefully to her instructions and feeling our senses growing sharper.
After turning on our lamps, we headed for the Hall of Dreams, a gallery with a fairly level floor. In the past, this space was used to shelter people for the night.
We finished our visit by passing through the Great Hall, the largest visited cave in the Canadian Shield. This is the part of the cave that was originally discovered in 1865 by Joseph-Charles Dubois, a coureur des bois who was out bear hunting. In this area, we admired ice stalactites and stalagmites
In summer, on the Cave Explorer tour, you can crawl through narrow tunnels in some of the cave’s less crowded areas. Children must be at least 8 years old to take this tour.
A treetop obstacle course
To round out our day on a high note, we had fun traversing from one tree to another on the Loulou la loutre (“Loulou the Otter”) course. Between the suspension bridges, the rope bridges and the zip lines, we had a lot of laughs. This course is fun for young and old alike, even if you’re not particularly brave. It was the perfect way to end a wonderful day among friends!
255 Route Principale, Val-des-Monts, QC
Trail access for 3 hours, no snowshoe rental: $10 per person | Trail access for 3 hours, including snowshoe rental: $20 per person | Laflèche Cave tour: Child age 5–7: $22, child age 8–13: $27, adult: $32 | Loulou la loutre aerial course: $35 per person
Children must be at least 5 years old to participate in the activities.
Lots of new features are planned this coming year at Arbraska Laflèche. Keep an eye on Arbraska’s event program for all the details!
After enjoying your magical outdoor experience at Arbraska, check out our suggestions for indoor activities to please the whole family.