Mont-Sainte-Anne, located about 40 minutes from Quebec City, is a world apart from the rest. The mountain, the views of the St. Lawrence river, the facilities, and the challenge offered by the ski trails are truly ahead of the competition.
71 trails, with 20 trails open for the highest vertical (2000 feet) night skiing in Canada. Signature trails like La Crete offer breathtaking experiences, with views unlike anywhere else. The lifts too are unique, including the only bubble quad chairlift (other than one at Stoneham).The base of the mountain is well laid out, with the basics, the main lodge and cafeteria, restaurants and bars, and lodging. The Chateau Mont-Sainte-Anne, where I stayed, is located immediately at the base of the main gondola, giving true ski in and ski out luxury.
Let's talk about trails. Mont-Sainte-Anne has a North and South side, as well as a small side dedicated to Natural Skiing (not groomed). The South Side, is the main side of the mountain with the highest vertical drop, of about 2000 feet. Served by several lifts, most notably the Étoile Filante gondola and the Express du Sud bubble quad chairlift. The west half of the South side has the expert terrain, which provides some of the most challenging terrain in Canada east of the Rockies, many containing bumps and moguls, and others groomed. Moving towards the east of the mountain, the trails become more intermediate and beginner. Some of my favorites were Le Gros Valon, and the Pichard (which even has a sugar shack located half way down). At the base of the mountain is the ideal beginner zone, consisting of two magic carpets, one of which is the longest in Canada, in a zone separate from all other trails and skiers.
Classics are La Crete and the S and Super S trails, providing excitement and thrills to experts and hardcore skiers.
Moving to the North side, accessed by either riding the Gondola or the Express du Sud and Tortue chairlifts, provides more expert as well as many more intermediate and beginner trails. This side has about half the vertical drop of the South side, however, thanks to its orientation, tends to have better snow conditions, and in fact it is the first and last area of the mountain to open and close each year. The only downside is that the North side has no night skiing. One trail which is really fun is the Enchanted Forest. It is a glade beginner trail, suitable to most skill levels, reasonably sloped with a fairly long length. A great way to experience your first glades on skis or snowboard.
The snowmaking and grooming are perfect, producing an enjoyable surface to ski on throughout the day.
Night skiing is truly a level above the rest here at Mont-Sainte-Anne. The vertical drop offered is unmatched in Canada, and really makes for an exciting experience. The trails take a good amount of time to descend, combined with the views of twinkling lights below and the sheer size of the night skiing domain, leave you more than satisfied, and definitely exhausted by the time the lifts have shut down for the night.
No visit to the Quebec City region is complete without a visit to Mont-Sainte-Anne. Here is a mountain that is excellent and well operated. It shows everywhere, from the snow quality and conditions, to the variety of trails, to the well designed lift network that brings you to the various areas quickly and efficiently, and also works well to keep you where you want to be on the mountain.