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Val David, QB
Friday, August 20, 2010 - 1:15pm by Lolo
236 miles and 4.5 hours from our last stop
One of the first destinations that leaped out at me from the pages of my travel guides while researching this trip last winter was the little village of Val David in the Laurentian Region north of Montreal. It sounded a lot to me like a smaller version of Moab, a kind of funky outdoor enthusiast’s paradise.
One thing that I learned when researching this trip is that the Quebecois are really into their biking. There are literally 4,000 km of trails (known as the Route Verte) that can virtually get you to every part of the province. The P’tit Train du Nord, which is just one 200 km piece of that vast network, passes right through the village of Val David on its way to Mont-Tremblant. I thought this might be something that we would like to do.
However, an every bigger draw was the fact that Val David had rock climbing. Herb had once been a pretty fanatical rock climber and had spent every Saturday for 7 years before the kids were born climbing. Raising kids and having his climbing buddy move to Kentucky put his climbing career on hiatus for about 18 years, but it was always something he still dreamed of doing—evident by the Climbing magazines that still arrive each month in our mailbox. About 2 years ago he brought the boys up to the Shawangunk Mountains in New Paltz, NY and got them on the rock for the first time. They took to it immediately, and they have gone climbing together several times since—both at the Gunks and in climbing gyms. It has been a really nice father-son activity for them, so I thought it would be fun if we could find a place to climb somewhere new. The problem was getting information ahead of time about what type of climbing it was. Most climbing destinations have guide books detailing the climbs and their difficulty ratings, but I couldn’t find anything, either online or from a climbing store that I called in Val David. All I knew from the travel guides was that there were 500 rated routes in a place called Dufresne Regional Park, on the outskirts of the village. We would just have to check it out in person.
Our first stop in town was Rock & Ride, a mountain biking and climbing store on the rue de l’Eglise, the main street through town. The employees spoke English and were quite helpful in describing the type of climbing that Dufresne had, but they said that we would have to go to the park itself to see a guide of the climbing routes. Dufresne was just a mile or two away on rue de Condor, which ran alongside the P’tit Train du Nord bike path. In the park office, we were struggling with communicating what we wanted, when a gentleman overheard our poor attempts at French and came to our assistance. He explained the various routes and rules of climbing there, and said that although they had run out of climbing route guides, they would be happy to make photocopies from the display copy of whatever routes we were interested in. They were really very friendly and helpful.
Since we had reservations in Parc National du Mont-Tremblant for the next two nights, we told them that we would definitely come back here to climb on Sunday on our return from Mont-Tremblant. It looked great and the Gaidus men were quite excited about the prospect of climbing together here. I too was quite pleased with myself for finding this place.
The Laurentians is the mountainous region north of Montreal. Its centerpiece is Mont-Tremblant, eastern Canada’s highest peak and a mecca for skiers from around the world. Autoroute 15, also known as the Autoroute des Laurentides, goes from Montreal to the Laurentians. The exit numbers along the way represent the distance in kilometers from Montreal. An alternative, and more scenic route through the Laurentians, is the smaller Route 117, which begins in St-Jerome (north of Montreal) and runs parallel to Autoroute 117, passing through many quaint villages along the way.
Val David is one of those quaint villages. It is located along Route 117 about 50 miles north of Montreal. If taking the faster Autoroute 15, the exit for Val David is 76. There is a tourist information center at 2579 rue de l’Eglise.
The beautiful scenery surrounding the village has always attracted artists. and it has become a bit of a bohemian enclave with numerous artist studios and galleries. From mid-July to mid-August, the village hosts a huge ceramic art festival, where sculptors, potters, painters, and jewelers display their works. On weekends throughout the summer there are pottery workshops for children.
Outdoor enthusiasts are also attracted to this small village, which has so much to offer in the way of outdoor recreation. For bicyclists, there is the P’tit Train du Nord, a 200 km bike trail which passes through town on the way to Mont-Tremblant. The slow flowing Riviere du Nord, a 7.5 km waterway that flows from Val-David to Lac Raymond in Val-Morin, attracts many canoeists and kayakers. Rock climbing is also popular at Dufresne Regional Park located on the outskirts of the village. There are more than 500 rated climbing routes to attract climbers of all skill levels. The park also has 15 km of hiking trails.
Camping is available at Camping Laurentien (1949 rue Guertin), just 3 miles from the village center.
Val David location map