Riding that Train
 
   

The morning brought beautiful blue skies and perfect temperatures . I started slowly to allow myself time to warm up but I never really felt the fatigue again that I had experienced near the end of the second day.

The scenery in this section isn't as nice as what I had become use to and I was worried that as I got closer to Montreal the path might almost become urban. Except for the occasional short industrial stretch this never happened. While the lower section isn't as wild as the upper trail it still follows largely through natural areas and provides some beautiful views and lots of nice picnic areas which I hoped to take advantage off.

I kept my eye open for a corner store to pick up a quick lunch I could pack with me but once again my plans fell through. By the time I found one, I was in Ste. Agathe and I was starving, so I forgot about the idyllic picnic spot on the river and just walked across the street to an urban park, found a bench and stuffed my face. So much for all my great planning.

 
 
 

Back to the trail after my early lunch, where I filled up my water bottles and had a quick look through the Ste. Agathe Train Station/Tourism Office. The building is nicely restored and has several very interesting historical photographs and artifacts. The tourism staff I met were very friendly and knew the areas history well.

As luck would have it I crossed the bridge over the Riviere du Nord just below Ste. Agathe and came upon a park and a perfect picnic spot on the river... ah well. I stopped and took a few photos and added this lovely spot to my must return list.

 
 
 

Continuing south the trail follows the Riviere du Nord into the resort villages of Val David (km 42) and Val Morin (km 39). The towns' folk here recently voted to purchase a large tract of land from a developer, with the expressed intention of turning it into a park. They are to be congratulated on their foresight, the result of which is the exceptional Parc Dufresne. The park encompasses some of the best rock climbing areas in Quebec along with innumerable hiking trails with excellent overlooks of the region. In addition there it has an extensive set of trails for cross country skiers, with key links into the broader Laurentian network, which encompasses over 1000km of trails. The area is also well know for its art galleries, fine dining and accommodations.

Leaving Val David the trail follows along the shores of the picturesque Lac Raymond. A short distance further on, the forest opens up to reveal a perfect picnic spot on the river, with white water splashing over a boulder garden and plenty of rock ledges to spread out your feast. I stopped to have a snack and finish the rest of my energy drink left over from my hasty lunch.

By now the traffic on the trail was significant (it was the Labour Day weekend after all) and people watching became my new sport. Certainly their is no end of variety ranging from kids barely off their training wheels, to seniors well into their seventies. The lycra set was well represented but most people were attired in street cloths, ranging from jeans to shorts and tees to jerseys. As you would expect just outside Montreal beautiful woman are the rule rather than the exception.

The next stretch of trail is intersected by the Parc Doncaster (fee). This nature park follows the Doncaster River as it flows into the Riviere du Nord. Earlier in the season I had taken a hike along its paths, where I came upon a beautiful Blue Heron which allowed me to observer him (her) for almost 10 minutes. You'll find some side trails in the park which lead to excellent picnic spots so pack a lunch.

At this point the bike path is just noticeably heading downhill and I found myself coasting on many occasions. The next land mark is St. Adele another popular town for weekend getaways. Unlike Val David it isn't directly on the trail so if you want to do some exploring you'll have to do a little road work.

 
 
   

Mont Rolland is the next station on route and except for St. Jerome was the most crowded I encountered. People were vying for a table at the stations Cafe de la Gare. I might of done the same but the crowds were a little daunting. I noted a corner store across the highway and I walked my bike over to pick up a beer for my end of trail celebration. Just across from the station is a kiosk housing a company which provides float trips on the Riviere du Nord in canoes. They will drop you off on the river a short distance south of here and pick you up at a take out further on. It sounds like a pleasant way to spend a lazy summer's afternoon.

I kept going as I passed the Piedmont and Prevost stations, since my next stop was to be my final one. I was going to take one last break and I decided to make it a good one by stopping in the picture perfect Parc du la Riviere du Nord (fee). The park has miles and miles of hiking trails, the beautiful Chutes Wilson (Wilson Falls) and lovely shaded picnic tables. I spent a half hour just lazing by the river before mounting up for my last short leg into St. Jerome.

 
 
  Back on the trail the bike traffic was extremely heavy with cyclist after cyclist heading into or from the large parking lot ahead. About a kilometre from the end I found a nice sheltered area beside the trail, sat down on a boulder and popped my victory beer. While I was tired and needed a shower I had mixed emotions about finishing. I made up my mind that I would return to St. Jerome next year and follow the trails extension through Laval and Montreal into the trail network in Monteregie. My ultimate destination would be Sherbrooke in the Eastern Townships about 160 kilometres from Montreal. Who knows I hear that the trail system in the south is being extended to Quebec City. What a perfect destination that makes! As they say, "every ending is just a new beginning".  
 
 
   

The P'tit Train du Nord is built on an abandoned railway line which started in Montreal and headed into the Laurentian Mountains to the north The trail runs from St. Jerome in the south, through cottage country to Mont Tremblant Village then on passed the Ville du Riviere Rouge to it's terminus in Mont Laurier. The lower section of the trail is surfaced with crushed gravel, while the upper section passed Labelle is paved. The trail has little in the way of a grade but you'll find yourself on an incline into Lac Saguay from either Mont Laurier or Nominingue, from Mont Tremblant south to St. Faustin-Lac Carre and from Mont Rolland (Ste. Adele) north to Val Morin. There are over 20 designated access points with parking. The trail is open to cyclists, hikers and backpackers in the summer season. In the winter the upper section above Val David is used for snowmobiling while the lower section is reserved for cross country skiers. The trail connects into two other regional bike paths, the Aerobic Corridor (hardpack) and the Lower Laurentians Linear Park (paved).

The trail travels through a variety of scenery from forest to field, passes a number of lakes and follows along side the regions beautiful rivers, the Rouge in the upper section and the Riviere du Nord in the south. It also makes it's way through a number of small villages and towns where accommodations, restaurants, supplies and normally (but not always) a bike shop can be found.

 
 
 

Bike rentals are available at some of the converted railway stations as well as in a number of towns along route. Shuttle service is available for cyclists, both end-to-end and to points on route (for more information see the contact information at the bottom of the page). For further details on the bike path, along with accommodations, restaurants and other services on route consult the following:

The P'tit Train du Nord - Out-There's feature article and resource listings for the linear park

Out-There's Laurentians - The Laurentians Region
Out-There's Mont Tremblant - The Mont Tremblant Region and Resort
Out-There's Montreal - The City of Montreal

Association Touristique des Laurentides
14142, rue de la Chapelle, Mirabel
Quebec, J7J 2C8
450-436-8532 or 514-990-5625
Laurentians Tourism
info-tourisme@laurentides.com

 

The following is contact information for firms mentioned in the article.

Transport du Parc Lineaire Domain Marie-Max - Shuttle service
Boise de Fou du Roi - Campgrounds, L'Assomption
Camping Labelle et la Rouge - Camping and Rustic Cabins, Labelle
Les Jardins de L'Achillee Millefeuille - B&B and Restaurant, Labelle/Mont Tremblant
Camping Domaine Desjardin - Campgounds, St. Faustin-Lac Carre
Cafe de la Gare -
Cafe, Bike Rental, Mont Rolland Station
Les Excursions Riviere du Nord - Canoe rentals and shuttle

 

 
 
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