With 6 ski mountains in the Gatineau region (Camp Fortune, Edelweiss, Mont Cascades, Mont Sainte Marie, Ski Vorlage and Mont Chilly) and 2 in the Ottawa Valley (Calabogie Peaks and Mount Pakenham), there is plenty of choices to choose from when planning a ski outing, learning a new sport, or choosing where to get your season pass.
Each mountain is unique, and they all offer something different, that set them apart. Any of them will surely become a great second home to you, in your pursuit of snow and skiing, so you are guaranteed a great experience no matter where you choose to ski. This blog post will mostly focus on what each offers, the differences that may be an advantage for you, as well as a few things to keep in mind.
You can see the full profile for each ski resort by clicking it's name below. All have a video available.
Camp Fortune is by far the closest to the city centre, located only 15 minutes away from the Parliament. Offering 3 very unique sides, there is plenty of choices of trails to try and enjoy. The entire mountain is served by quad chairlifts (with a small sunny side retro area served by a t-bar). For beginners, there is a magic carpet area and small slope. Conditions are generally very good every day. The trails range from beginner all the way to expert. The mountain is arranged with a good progression from the various sectors as you increase in skills, so it's fairly easy to know where you belong based on your abilities. The mountain has two base lodges, the main and larger of the two on the Valley side. Offering all the regular amenities and services in a modern setting. Parking is offered at both lodges, giving you easier and quicker access to the trails you want to enjoy. Lift lines are never much of an issue. Overall, a nice ski mountain, with terrain for all to enjoy and great conditions. One of the main issues for me at Camp Fortune is the transit between the various sectors of the mountain, as the connecting trails can be very flat.
Sommet Edelweiss is located 35 minutes from the Parliament, in beautiful village of Wakefield. This mountain offers the highest vertical drop of the 4 nearby ski mountains (Camp Fortune, Edelweiss, Mont Cascades and Ski Vorlage). Of particular interest is the shape of the mountain, which is in the form of an amphitheatre. All the trails end and come together in front of the lodge, which makes it easy to regroup after runs. The mountain is served by 3 quad chairlifts (including 1 high speed detachable). A magic carpet is offered for beginners on a dedicated small slope. The trails have a good length, with the longest being 1.5km. Trails are also well layed out, with beginner trails found to the left of the mountain, progressively increasing in difficulty to expert by the time you reach the right side of the mountain. Ski conditions are generally very good, and the trails are well groomed. The snowpark is filled with modules, boxes, rails and jumps of various skill levels, surely what the most trick minded riders are looking for. The mountain has one base lodge, offering all the services you would expect. The mountain also has a snow tubing park, giving opportunities to enjoy something different when you get tired, or for those that do not ski or snowboard. One issue with Edelweiss is the lodge is old and dated. It has been updated and modernised but still lacks the space and layout of more modern designs. The final issue is there is a lack of progression once you graduate from the magic carpet area, as you have no choice but to try the main beginner trails, which include a moderately steep pitch (more of what you'd find on an easy intermediate). This can be a big enough point that if you are a true beginner, you may be served better at one of the other ski mountains in the region.
Mont Cascades is located about 30 minutes from the Parliament, in Cantley. This mountain offers two sides, each providing a different experience and exposure to the sun. The mountain has trails ranging from beginner to expert. A dedicated beginner area served by a magic carpet and small double chairlift, is separate from the rest of the mountain, giving a safe environment to learn the basics. The rest of the mountain is served by a double, triple and quad chairlifts. Conditions are generally very good. The mountain has two base lodges, with each located on the two sides of the mountain. Both sides provide parking, giving you quick and easy access to the trails you want. However, the smaller World Cup lodge is generally only open on weekends. The trails have a good variety, many including lots of turns and pitches, making for fun runs down the mountain.
Mont Sainte Marie
Mont Sainte Marie is located about 1 hour and 10 minutes from the Parliament, near Lac Sainte Marie. This mountain is the largest of all 5 ski mountains in the region, with a vertical drop of 1200 feet (about double the others). It also has the feeling of a big mountain and you really do feel out in nature. Mont Sainte Marie is actually two mountains, Cheval Blanc and Vanier, both served by high speed quad detachable chairlifts. A beginner area is served by a poma lift, and is separate from the rest of the mountain. The trails are long and offer a good challenge. Line ups at the lifts are short and quick, even on weekends. The trails are long and enjoyable. A new side of the mountain, Sudermann's Ridge is only open on select weekends, and by reservation. This new side offers 100% natural skiing on ungroomed trails with a spectacular view. The return to the main ski side is by shuttle bus. It can't be emphasized enough, Mont Sainte Marie is a true ski resort mountain, with local mountain prices and short lift lineups. It offers the same experience as in the Laurentians but with half the driving time and half the lift ticket cost. The mountain even has a ski cross trail, to allow you to experience this new sport. On weekends, a little tram shuttle helps move you from the base of Vanier to near the base of Cheval Blanc. The moutain has one main lodge, which is very spacious and modern, and hosts all the amenities you would expect at a resort. Trails on Vanier mountain range from beginner to advanced (diamond), while on Cheval Blanc, they range from intermediate to expert (double diamond).
Ski Vorlage is located 30 minutes from the Parliament, right in the beautiful village of Wakefield. It goes without saying that you have the most options for après-ski at Vorlage than the others, with a full village, complete with restaurants, and bars. Ski Vorlage is the most family oriented ski mountain in the region, bar none. Absent are the occasional reckless skiers from elsewhere, or the louder teenage groups. Children and families will feel very welcome and comfortable here. Ski Vorlage is also the most appropriate mountain for beginners. With trails such as La Pente Douce (the most gentle and easy beginner trail in the region) and Sun Dance, located on a separate sector of the mountain, all to their own, this is the ideal place to learn how to ski. Conditions are generally very good, and the trails do not get crowded, thanks to the mountain being serviced only by 3 double chairlifts and a t-bar. This helps slow down the pace and amount of skiers on the trails at any given time, and helps maintain ski conditions and grooming longer into the day. Intermediate skiers will enjoy Ski Vorlage thanks to many choices for their skill levels, spread across the mountain. The advanced and expert terrain is also very fun and enjoyable, with distinct turns and twists. The main lodge is modern and spacious, and features an outdoor terrace on the upper level, perfect to soak in some rays in the spring. Overall, Ski Vorlage is a great mountain, with a particular emphasis on beginners and families.
Mont Chilly is located in Fort-Coulonge, Quebec, about 90 minutes from Downtown Ottawa. This mountain is very unique in that it operates only on weekends. For a $20 lift ticket, you will find yourself experiencing a mountain that has stood the test of time unchanged. The mountain is served by one t-bar, and has 4 main trails on a 100% natural snow base. Mont Chilly is owned and operated by the Hernberger family, who together create a warm family atmosphere, on a mountain where everyone knows your name. At Chilly, you won't find any lift lines, the trails are all wide open, allowing you to fully enjoy them as you please. From a beginner trail to advanced glades to full-on fall line skiing, there is a little something for everyone. It definitely is a well kept secret of the region and one you need to experience yourself.
Located about 60 minutes from Downtown Ottawa, Calabogie Peaks Resort offers the complete package, with fantastic skiing and snowboarding, as well as many lodging options that range from hotel and suite to mountain condos. A well developed mountain, the choices of trails is somewhat endless, with plenty of intersection and places to explore. Those new to the sport will feel at home in the Beginner's Bowl, a dedicated learning area, separate from the main mountain face, and served by a magic carpet. The main mountain offers the highest vertical drop in all of the province of Ontario. Calabogie also features some gladed trails, which are a rarity in the region. From gentle beginner slopes to expert steeps and pitches, the mountain offers a great progression from absolute beginners to the most demanding enthusiasts. Modern facilities and friendly and courteous staff round out the experience and ensure your day on the slopes is a memorable one. The mountain is also equiped with a state of the art snowmaking system, ensuring great skiing early and throughout the season. Once the sun sets or your legs have become tired, the Calabogie Peaks Hotel is ready to welcome you. With regular hotel rooms and suites, an indoor pool, and a bar and restaurant... it's the perfect way to enjoy a multi-day stay. For those prefering to do their own thing, the mountain condos are another option, with kitchens and many amenities.
Mount Pakenham is located approximately 45 minutes from Downtown Ottawa. This mountain has a family friendly vibe, welcoming all who want to experience the joys of skiing and snowboarding. It is well known for being a beginners mountain, with great terrain to learn the basics and develop your skills and confidence, with several facilities such as magic carpets, rope tows and t-bars, separated from the rest of the mountain. The main mountain features 2 quad chairlifts and a triple chair, serving mostly intermediate trails, with a couple advanced and glades. It definitely offers a safe atmosphere to enjoy winter at its best for families of all skill levels. The recently renovated and expanded base chalet is spacious, cozy and inviting. Snow tubing and snow shoeing are other activites offered at Pakenham, perfect for those wanting to take a break or experience something new. With plenty of activites throughout the year and themed events, Mount Pakenham is guaranteed to get you excited to enjoy winter to its fullest!
The Ottawa-Gatineau Region
It's clear there are many choices, each with something unique to offer. Depending on your skill level and who you will be skiing with, can help you choose which mountain will best meet your needs and enjoyment. Whichever mountain you choose, you can be sure that a world of skiing enjoyment and excitement awaits on every turn and chairlift ride. Each and everyone of these ski mountains is highly recommended by SlopeEdge.