Bicycle Touring through the Laurentians

A group of 17 from our outdoor club had decided to cycle Le P’tit Train du Nord through the Laurentian Mountains north of Montreal. This is 201 km linear park along a rail trail through forests and stream and lakes.

What made it different for most of the cyclists was that we were going with loaded bicycles meaning we had to purchase or borrow lightweight tents. The Autobus Le Petit Train du Nord had brought us to the start of the route at Mont Laurier where we stayed in a local motel.

Riding south to Nominique

The start of the cycling trail was paved and plenty of outhouses and picnic shelters along the way. At lunch we used one of the shelters next to a lake but the stop was short due to the number of bugs, some riders even put on bug shirts. Although there was some hills they were gentle along this rail trail.

The leader had mentioned we had several kilometers to go when we reached the entrance to Camping Au Boise Du Village near Nominque. Apparently his GPS was showing the road route while there was an entrance right from the bike trail. Although the owner did not speak English he got on his golf cart and led us to the group camping area. Being a off-season weekday the campground was nearly empty.

We set up our bivy tents and headed to nearby Nominque for groceries for dinner and breakfast the next day. Walking around the campground after dinner I noticed a deer grazing in site 1, we would see several over the next few days.

Riding to Labelle

Departing Nominque along Le P’tit Train du Nord

Heading south again the next morning we made a brief stop at the train station which had a tourist office and washrooms for cyclists. We also met others bicycle touring who were staying in B & B’s instead of camping.

Nominique Lake soon came into view and the route hugged the shoreline for a while before heading back into the forest again. We crossed numerous streams along this generally flat section before reaching historic Labelle station.

A sign directed us to our campground and we headed down the hill to the river where Chutes-aux-Iroquois campground was located. This was a very busy campground with awesome views of the “chute”. The owners had not confirmed a spot but said they would most likely find a site, good thing we arrived on a weekday and the following days it would be full.

Laurentians cycling
Labelle, Quebec

Again we set up camp and were soon invaded by an army of insects, time for the bug jackets before we headed off for groceries and the waterfall at the campground.

Riding to Domaine Lausanne

We woke to rain the next morning although it soon stopped. I noticed a small puddle under my tent but thankfully it had not leaked. Anyway it is always a bit more difficult to pack up wet camping gear and load the bicycles.

cycling near Mont-Tremblant
Cycling near Mont-Treblant

The good thing was we were now on a fair section of the ride, although with a hard packed surface and not paved. After about 20 km Lac Mercier came into view the route had a newly paved surface.

We had arrived at Ville de Mont-Tremblant, the popular ski resort although it appeared busy in the summer as well. We had to stop at one of the many cafes for coffee and danishes and take in the ambience.

On the far side of Mont-Tremblant the trail started to climb and continued to be so for the next 12 km through the woods. There were benches and washrooms every so often. The main difference was the cyclists staying at the resort would ride up the hill and dash down so there was much more traffic than previous sections.

We came across a grocery store and stopped to load more items on our bicycles knowing there was no town or grocery store at our next campground. The next 10 km to Camping Domaine Lausanne was pretty flat as it parallel Hwy117, the main highway.

Bike touring Le P'tit Train du Nord
Camping Domaine Lausanne

This is a big campground and the group site is near the back of the property although near a lake and large recreation hall. On arrival the resident ground hog was not happy with someone using the group site and begin carrying its young across our site to somewhere it felt was safer.

Riding to Val David

Cycle touring Quebec
Group cycling along trail towards Val David

At 6 a.m. my tent shook as the trip leader went about waking everyone up as another rain storm was predicted for 7 a.m.  So we skipped breakfast and packed in hurry and headed down Le P’tit Train du Nord again. While it did not rain at 7 as forecast it was coming down hard by the time we reached Val David, fortunately only a short 20 km ride today. 

Camping in Laurentians
Camping Laurentien, Val David

We headed to Rotisserie Au Petit Poucet, built in 1945 and featuring great French Canadian food in a large cabin decorated and very crowded. After the late breakfast we headed out and it was still raining as we arrived at the nearby Camping Laurentien. Yes we had to set up our tents in the rain. It did let up in the afternoon and we walked to the resort town of Val David to visit the pubs and shops. Dinner was in the Restaurant le Villageois near our camp.

Riding to St. Jerome

Our last day riding gave us a gentle climb at first but it was mostly gently slope down all the way to St. Jerome. There were plenty of historic rail stations, interesting cafes and lots of other cyclists as we got closer to the end.

Cycling in Quebec
Le P’tit Train du Nord approaching St. Jerome

Riding with 17 other cyclists along I got to see a lot of different gear with many of the others quite heavily loaded with their bivy tents, camp stoves and sleeping bags. By comparison I had a much lighter load. Le P’tit Train du Nord provides an amazing 3 to 5 day bicycle tour through spectacular scenery with excellent facilities for riders of all levels.

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