When most people think of Mont Tremblant, Québec they think of downhill skiing. After spending the last two winters living in the region I’ve discovered another side to Tremblant. A side away from the busy lift-lines and hustle and bustle of the ski village. Along quiet trails lined with snow-covered pine trees, Tremblant is a hidden gem for winter birding, particularly for seeing finches.
Whether you’re there for a ski vacation, but have an interest in the local bird-life or if you’re a more serious bird-watcher and want to know Mont Tremblant’s birding hotspots, this guide has you covered.
Here are my favourite spots for birding Mont Tremblant and viewing wildlife:
Birding Mont Tremblant: The Ski Village
Surprisingly, the ski village itself has various opportunities for viewing wildlife and observing winter bird species. The first winter I lived at Tremblant I was based right in the ski village so I got to know this area really well.
I discovered that in the large parking lot of the Condolet apartment complex (see map below) are a decent selection of bird feeders maintained by residents. Regular visitors included Common Redpolls, Pine Siskins, American Goldfinches, Downy, Hairy and Pileated Woodpeckers, Red-breasted Nuthatches and Black-capped Chickadees. I also had Pine Grosbeaks on one occasion which was a special treat! Brown Creepers can sometimes be seen creeping up trees in the same area.
The parking lot is for residents only. If you’re there during the week you can probably get away with stopping just to check the feeders. On the weekends, you are better off parking in P1 or P2 and walking. There is no guarantee these feeders will be maintained year to year.
As you’re walking through the pedestrian village, another good spot are the trees across from the Magasin General. It’s an unusual spot for good birding but I have seen a lot of different species in these trees including Bohemian Waxwings. I wouldn’t suggest a specific trip here, but if you’re walking through the ski village it’s worth checking the trees.
You will regularly encounter White-tailed Deer in and around the ski village that have become quite tame. There are lots of pretty photography opportunities with deer in the snow.
Multi-functional Trail (Piste Multifunctionnelle: La Villageoise)
Lastly, I recommend walking the multi-functional trail from the ski village to the golf course. Some of the apartments near the golf course have bird feeders which are worth checking. You’ll also find concentrations of birds at various points as you approach the Diable river.
If you have the energy, you can complete the full trail which will return you to the ski village (it’s 15km so is a half-day trip), or you can always turn around at any point and retrace your steps.
Visit Tremblant’s website and click on Resort Map for a map of the start of the multi-functional trail. You want to take it west towards the lake.
Map of Birding Mont Trembant Ski Village Locations:
Birding Mont Tremblant: The Mountain
Once you head up the mountain things get even more interesting. One of the things I love about skiing at Tremblant is that you are in the midst of a beautiful natural region that has been left somewhat intact. If you take the chairlift up from the Versant Soleil you be flying high over Tremblant’s rugged natural beauty. You barely even know you are at a ski resort at certain places on this chairlift. I’ve seen a lot of different birds from this chairlift including Pine Grosbeaks on the top of pine trees, Ruffed Grouse running down a ski trail and flocks of Pine Siskins.
The Edge is another area of natural beauty on the mountain. At the top of the chairlift you can regularly see a Gray Jay at the top of the pines. The lift operator will often feed it peanuts!
Snow Buntings can be seen from various chair lifts flitting from one area to the next. Downy Woodpeckers and Red-breasted Nuthatches can also be reliably seen from the chair lifts.
To fully enjoy the natural beauty of the mountain, I recommend going during the week when it’s much quieter.
Birding Mont Tremblant: Domaine St. Bernard
About a 15 minute drive from the ski village you will find the cross-country skiing mecca that is the Domaine St. Bernard. In addition to xc skiing, this area also has great hiking and snowshoe trails with good birding opportunities.
The M1 and M2 trails are short and give you a great taste of what the region has to offer. For something more challenging try one of the R trails for snowshoes (depending on the amount of snow, sometimes you can just hike on these). You will find bird feeders at various locations on these trails.
There is a $5 charge for hiking the trails in this area.
Jardin des Oiseaux
Near the entrance to the area is a Bird Garden (Jardin des oiseaux) that is maintained by the local birding organization. During the winter they have bird feeders there which can attract a variety of species including Blue Jays, Downy, Hairy, Pileated and Black-backed Woodpeckers, Pine Siskins, Pine Grosbeaks and Red-breasted Nuthatches. Keep your eyes out overhead for a Bald Eagle flyover and check the open areas for Wild Turkeys.
Check the road on the way up to Domaine St. Bernard for Ruffed Grouse who like to eat the salt.
Map of Birding Mont Tremblant: Domaine St. Bernard
Birding Mont Tremblant: Parc National du Mont Tremblant
If your main purpose in visiting Tremblant is bird-watching, I highly recommend the nearby mighty Parc National du Mont Tremblant. This is Quebec’s second largest provincial park and has everything you need for a winter adventure (hiking, xc skiing, winter camping and more!) I suggest checking eBird before heading into the park to give you an idea of what birds are being seen on the numerous hiking trails.
Coming from the ski village, I like to enter the park from Chemin de Lac Supérieur. Some of the best birding I’ve had in the park starts the minute you drive through the gate. The road is fairly quiet and wide enough that you can easily pull over at the first sign of movement in the trees. The birds also LOVE the grit that’s on the road so keep your eyes peeled.
Sometimes in winter there can be hundreds of birds lining the road here. Regular sightings including Pine Grosbeaks, Purple Finches, Red and White-winged Crossbills, Pine Siskins, Common Redpolls and more.
As you continue driving along the road you can stop at one of the first trails you come across, La Sablonnière. Even the parking lot and the first ten minutes of the trail can yield a lot of bird-life.
Check out this video with your volume on to hear the sounds of all the birds at the start of this trail:
I recommend continuing along the road until you get to the beautiful “Centre de découverte” visitor’s center. It’s a nice place to warm up and grab a bite to eat, plus around the parking lot area can be good for bird-life.
Evening Grosbeaks can also be seen in the park, but it’s the luck of the draw if you will catch a flock of them (so far I haven’t been lucky!). Black-backed Woodpeckers are regularly reported as well.
Map of Parc National du Mont Tremblant birding locations. There are lots of other stops and hikes you can do, but these are a good place to start:
Local Bird Club: Club Ornithologique des Hautes Laurentides
There are plenty of other areas to bird-watch in the Mont Tremblant area. A great resource is the local bird club’s website and their Facebook page (where they post recent sightings). Their website also has a comprehensive guide to birding locations around the region that goes beyond what I’ve described in this article. The website is entirely in french which can be a challenge if you aren’t fluent, but google translate helps!
The club also usually runs a couple of bird outings during the winter which could be fruitful for gaining local knowledge.
If you’re heading up to Tremblant from Ottawa, a great place to stop en route for amazing wildlife photography opportunities is Parc Omega. You can get great shots of Arctic Foxes, Arctic Wolves, Caribou and plenty more.
There are also decent birding opportunities around the park – I’ve seen hundreds of Snow Buntings there in winter as well as Wild Turkeys, Downy, Hairy & Pileated Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, Northern Cardinals and Common Redpolls. The welcome center has an extensive collection of bird feeders so that is a good place to start.
Bald Eagles are frequent visitors to the park and can often be seen flying overhead.
Birding Mont Tremblant: Round-up & Tips
Discovering Mont Tremblant’s quieter side has made me fall in love with this region even more. It is a stunning area for a winter getaway, whether you are there for the skiing or for the winter bird-watching.
I am always surprised that I rarely hear the Parc National du Mont Tremblant mentioned by Ottawa-area birders as it’s a great winter hotspot for finches and makes a nice change from Algonquin Park.
This area can be really cold in the winter so you definitely have to bundle up! I recommend using hand and foot warmers in your gloves for those really cold days – they can mean the difference between you having to give up early and being able to stay out in the field for longer.
Accommodation is far cheaper in the outlying areas such as Mont Tremblant’s old village, Ste. Jovite and near Lac Supérieur than it is in the ski village itself.
The Parc National du Mont Tremblant is less than 2.5 hours from Ottawa so it’s doable as a day trip if you just want to go up for the day to bird. The Mont Tremblant ski village is less than 2 hours away.
Happy winter birding!