MON­TREAL TO THE EASTERN TOWN­SHIPS

QUE­BEC

Canadian Geographic - - CANADA'S BEST WINTER DRIVES - —Su­san Ner­berg

IT MIGHT BE a stretch to call it the Pow­der High­way of the East. But set out from Mon­treal on Au­toroute 10 E, and sooner than you can say “black di­a­mond” you’ve left be­hind flat farm fields and hit enough con­tour lines to guar­an­tee a good day on the slopes. Con­sider the high­way to the Eastern Town­ships, a hill-stud­ded swath be­tween the St. Lawrence River and the U.S. border just east of the coun­try’s sec­ond-largest city, your sea­son ticket — or week­end pass — to the clos­est you might get to reach­ing ski­ing Nir­vana this side of the Rock­ies. Start your week­end by head­ing out right af­ter of­fice hours for a few Fri­day happy hours in the snow. At Bromont, only 50 min­utes from Mon­treal, 99 of the 143 groomed runs are lit un­til mid­night, mak­ing it the re­sort with the big­gest night ski­ing ter­rain in North Amer­ica. It gets even bet­ter on the hill’s Nuits Blanches, which rock ’n’ roll on sev­eral con­sec­u­tive Satur­day nights of the sea­son, when the lifts stay open un­til 2 a.m. and the bars close at 3 — be­cause it’s never too late for après-ski. On Satur­day, leave the party scene be­hind and ease into na­ture. Me­an­der­ing be­tween maple- and spruce-draped hills, the half-hour drive south along Route 241 and 139 drops you at the foot of Mount Sut­ton. If you’re the sporty type, you slap fake mo­hair skins on your skis and make your way to the summit on your own steam be­fore drop­ping in to what some peo­ple ar­gue is the best glade ski­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in the coun­try. For a more mel­low ride, head a bit far­ther east to Mount Or­ford. Rated a good be­gin­ner moun­tain with more than half of its trails green or blue, it boasts the high­est summit — and some of the best views — in the re­gion. And at nearby Owl’s Head, where the top el­e­va­tion gives you a panorama of lakes and hills, 70 per cent of the runs are be­gin­ner or in­ter­me­di­ate. If the prom­ise of speed­ing down the slopes isn’t enough to con­vince you to make the trip, per­haps the re­gion’s après-ski of­fer­ings will whet your ap­petite. Some 60 per cent of Que­bec’s wines, in­clud­ing the prov­ince’s first chardon­nay, are made here. And of course, along with the wine comes food pair­ings from for­ward-think­ing farm­ers and ar­ti­sanal bak­ers, butch­ers, cheese mak­ers and choco­latiers, not to men­tion the most in­ven­tive of beers at Ferme Bras­si­cole near Mount Or­ford, where the brew­mas­ter cre­ates suds us­ing in­gre­di­ents such as maple and straw­ber­ries, of­fer­ing plenty of rea­sons to toss a coin as to who in your party will be the des­ig­nated driver.

A skier gets some air at Owl’s Head ski re­sort near Man­sonville, Que.

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