A view
for the ages

Part of the Appalachian Mountain Range, Quebec's Green Mountains Nature Reserve offers countless opportunities for discovery

S tanding on Mount Singer, the third-highest summit in the Green Mountains, Julien Poisson found himself awestruck with the seemingly endless view of the forests and water before him.

“I was first brought to this area in January 2010, when I joined the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) as the project manager for southern Quebec,” says Julien. “I was amazed by the beauty of the Green Mountains.”

While most of the Green Mountains’ approximately 45,000 annual hikers head to Round Top, one place holds a special place in Julien’s heart.

“I must admit, I have a soft spot for Mount Singer, the underdog of the summits in this area,” he says. “From this peak, you have a splendid view of Fullerton Pond, the Owl’s Head Ski Resort and Vermont’s portion of the Green Mountains.

When they first visit the area, many people may be surprised to discover that a mountain range of this size exists in eastern Canada.

“Before I came to NCC, I thought the Green Mountains were strictly located in the U.S.,” says Julien. “In reality, they, along with other mountain ranges, are part of the 2,000-kilometre-long Appalachian mountain range that runs from eastern Alabama all the way up to Newfoundland.”

Yours to visit, and explore

Visitors are welcome to explore the Green Mountains year-round. In addition to hiking and skiing opportunities, the area has been named one of Quebec’s best spots to experience the spectacular fall colours in the forests that cascade throughout the mountains.

“In the fall, the whole area is covered in an array of colours like you wouldn’t believe!” says Julien.

This vast, dense forest is inhabited by a number of large mammals, including black bear, moose and bobcat. While Julien has a fascination with the latter feline species because of the cat’s size and denning rituals, he also appreciates the smaller species hidden within this sprawling 7,000-hectare (17,300-acre) area.

“I have to admit, it’s a small bird species that impresses me the most,” he says. “Each year, the Bicknell’s thrush migrates from the Caribbean to a limited summer range in upstate New York, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec’s Green Mountains. This thrush has one of the most restricted breeding ranges of forest birds in North America.”

While visiting Green Mountains, keep an ear and eye out for Bicknell’s thrush and other bird species that seek refuge in the area, including barred owl and peregrine falcon, an at-risk species in Quebec.

Bicknell’s thrush

The Bicknell’s thrush is the only bird that breeds exclusively in northeastern North America (eastern Quebec, the Maritimes and New England), with up to four males tending to a single nest. This bird prefers cool, wet and windy forests. Its large eyes have been adapted to help it see in dark, dense habitats.

“Walking in the Green Mountains, you tend to forget that you’re in southern Quebec and less than a two-hour drive from one of Canada’s largest metropolitan areas [Montreal].”

Species to Spot

– balsam fir
– Bicknell’s thrush
– black bear
– bobcat
– mountain maple
– red maple
– striped maple
– sugar maple

In addition to hiking and skiing opportunities, the area has been named one of Quebec’s best spots to experience the spectacular fall colours in the forests that cascade throughout the mountains.

The power of partnership

The Green Mountains Nature Reserve has been a long time in the making. In the 10 years since NCC’s first acquisition in the Sutton area in the Green Mountains, this area has grown and evolved tremendously, thanks to NCC’s collaboration with local partners and communities.

“Since 2001, NCC and our partners have developed a network of hiking trails, a proper parking lot and interpretive signage in the area,” says Julien. “We are ensuring that the property is stewarded in a way that will continue to meet our conservation standards while being enjoyed by the public.”

A must-see destination

Julien proudly believes the Green Mountains are a must-see area for anyone visiting or living in Quebec.

“The steep hills and the impressive scale of the intact forests distinguish the Green Mountains from any other area in the province,” he says. “Walking in the Green Mountains, you tend to forget that you’re in southern Quebec and less than a two-hour drive from one of Canada’s largest metropolitan areas [Montreal].”

Photo Credits (Top to bottom): Guillaume Simoneau; Claude Duchaîne; NCC; Mike Baird/Wikimedia Commons; Guillaume Simoneau; iStock.

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