The Trail



As the team prepares

the ski marathon trail every winter, skiers can come to this website section to see the details of what will be skied that particular year. Typically near mid-January, the 10 sections that define the 160 km adventures are finalized and we are ready to publish details. Here you will find a section-by-section description of the trail in general terms. Estimated distance and elevation graphs will be presented. Always keep in mind that the Canadian Ski Marathon offers a special and unique trail that is only skied on the particular weekend of the event. It is a winter adventure! As such details are provided as a guideline. In preparing the trail we keep to the general philosophies that launched the event so many decades ago. The trail is approximately 80 km per day. It is mostly tracked set for classic skiing and where feasible we double-track-set the trail to make passing easier. Indeed on a good snow year, 80% of the trail may have two parallel sets of tracks.

Sections vary from

9.5 km to 25 km. They start and end with a Check Point (called CPs) where hot and cold drinks, food, and waxing services are offered by our volunteers. First aid is also available and buses are available within a reasonable wait time to exit the course. If abandoning the marathon mid-way through a section, always remember to let an official know! Most sections have a “water station” somewhere about halfway that is tended by volunteers. Food is often not available at water points so skiers should be ready for these longer sections to provide their own snacks for the journey.

From 1967 to 1993

the trail traveled westward, typically from Lachute to Gatineau or Ottawa. In 1994 the CSM organization decided to offer some variety to the skiers and began to alternate the direction – every even year would see the course shift eastward and by then start in Buckingham and end in Lachute. Montebello has always been maintained as the mid-point where the event ends on Saturday night and begins on Sunday morning. In 2018 a new section was launched. To mitigate risk against warming trends and urban development, a northern section was developed and tested and ready to ski! It has been a very popular “leg” of the ski marathon and has been skied since. In 2018, 2019, and 2020 the event started just south of Mont-Tremblant, heading south to Montebello and turned east to Lachute.

As of 2022

The intent is to maintain these three legs, North, East, and West, to offer the most flexibility possible and ease the planning of future events. Every year a team analyzes challenges that are expected in the coming year and considers many factors. Typically before the end of spring, a decision is made and a trail is selected for the following year.

Whatever trail system we use to bring 160 km of skiing to the community, it must be emphasized that much of the land we travel through is private land. Owners give us special permission to use their property – we must be respectful and thankful. While some of the marathon uses trails that are groomed all winter and available to anyone, most of the trail is absolutely not available outside of the two days we host the event. As we travel through Canadian wilderness there is also the context that we are not first on this land and mindfulness while we ski can only enrich our own lives. Finally, thank you to the volunteers who work with passion and love of cross-country skiing to bring this trail to all of us. Stay tuned for the details of this year!

CSM Trail Descriptions - 2023

The trail maps for Sections 1 to 10 now include elevation profiles and should be final.  Please check for last-minute updates just prior to the event.

Saturday February 11th, 2023 – Mont-Tremblant to Montebello (79.8 KM / 78.6 KM for Gold CdB)

Section 1 – 9.5 km – Easy Level

The trail has an interesting start in a large sand pit north of the town of Arundel. It passes through varied terrain including forests, open fields, another sand pit, and a pine tree farm before entering the Arundel Golf and Country Club. There are beautiful views of the Rouge River along the way. A portion of Section 1 is part of the Sentiers loisir Arundel trails network, thank you for your valuable collaboration. The trail finishes through a cornfield as it enters the town of Arundel, where skiers remove their skis and walk one block in town to the checkpoint at the town hall.

Section 2 – 23.2 km – Intermediate Level

The trail starts for several kilometers on a gentle downhill using the Aerobic Corridor, which is the former railway track from St Sauveur to Amherst, and passes over a long trestle bridge over the Rouge River before entering the scenic Gray Valley. It then turns through a forest and follows a cottage road to Lac au Loup, then goes nearby Lac Champagneur. It finally descends a hill and crosses over the Maskinongé River before entering the checkpoint on a farm south of the town of Boileau.

Section 3 – 18.7 km – Difficult Level

The trail starts with a climb out of the farm and continues through hilly terrain until descending to the edge of Lac à la Croix. Partway down the side of the lake, it enters the Kenauk Nature reserve and follows summer roads through the beautiful woods of the reserve. It passes near Lac Taunton and finishes in a large sand pit.

Section 4 – 12.5 km – Difficult Level

The trail continues on summer roads through the forest of the Kenauk Nature. At the halfway point, the trail leaves the roads and uses a new rugged trail with lots of hills designed to challenge the skier. It finishes in the sheltered opening of the Reserve’s Clay Shooting Pits, the same location as CP 5 of the eastern CSM trail.

Section 5 – 15.9 km / 14.7 CdB Gold – Intermediate Level

Leaving the Reserve’s Clay Shooting Pits, the trail has numerous challenging climbs and descents that lead you out of the Kenauk Nature Reserve and the forested hills of the Laurentian Mountains. The Autoroute 50 ski underpass takes you towards the anticipated and rewarding descent into the Ottawa River Valley and the first-day fun finish line at the Notre-Dame de Bonsecours church in Montebello.


Sunday, February 12th, 2023 – Montebello to Gatineau (77.1 KM)

Section 6 – 15.4 km – Easy Level

Day 2 begins at Gold Camp for everyone with a gradual climb from Montebello, passing through the Chateau Montebello golf course, before reaching a height of land and a gradual descent to the Petite Nation River. Here the snowmobile club graciously shares their trail and bridge with you the skiers. Following open fields between forested hills this section of the trail is particularly striking. The second half of the section flattens out before reaching the checkpoint at Highway 321, north of Papineauville.

Section 7 – 20.4 km – Intermediate Level

This section follows gently rolling terrain with one larger peak, across fields and small woodlots and right through the yards of several farms. The first half of the section is more rolling as the trail crosses several small ridges and follows the edges of waterways. The second half of the section consists of several kilometers of flat terrain through farmers’ fields before a final climb through open fields to a height of land and wonderful views. The section ends with a gradual descent to the checkpoint in the village of Saint-Sixte.

Section 8 - 16.2 km – Intermediate Level

With a long gradual climb up onto an escarpment, the trail follows forestry roads owned by the Lauzon hardwood flooring company onto a forested undulating plateau. In the second half of the section, there is a long descent into the fields of a pretty valley and continues gently through the forest and more fields before reaching the checkpoint at the Mayo Park.

Section 9 – 14.5 km – Easy Level

This section continues through farmers’ fields and woodlots and there is a tricky descent before reaching the La Petite Blanche River. The trail is revised this year to cross the river on a bridge, since it is not fully frozen. The trail continues on terrain that is rolling with gentle ups and downs and no real surprises.

Section 10 – 10.9 km – Intermediate Level

This section is rolling for the first kilometer, then climbs a steep hill which will test your skills before the trail levels out. Winding its way through a rugged forest this section offers very nice skiing with lots of ups and downs but no major technical challenges and is networked with the “Renards Blancs” cross-country ski club trails. During the last few kilometers, the trail exits the forest, goes through a tunnel under the new highway, and crosses the Buckingham Golf Course to finish at their clubhouse.