Category: Canada

Cycling tour of Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula

Tour Overview

Gaspe bicycle tour
Gaspe bicycle tour overview and elevations map

In the summer of 2017 my wife Deb and I toured 340 miles of Quebec’s  Gaspé Peninsula with our friend Michael and his wife Ruth, who drove and carried our gear. Over the course of 6 days of riding we had almost 10,000 ft. of elevation gain.  We rode from west to East to take advantage of the Peninsula’s strong tailwinds.

From our home in Ipswich MA, the drive to Riviere-du-Loop on the northern shore took about 9 hours. We ended the tour in Percé at the end of the south shore.

Shown below are cue sheets, maps, GPS links and photos from our tour.

Day 1:  Riviere-du-Loop to Rimouski

Distance: 72 mi., Elevation: +3080 ft of climb

The August tourist traffic on Rt. 132 was very heavy for the first two days. The side roads into the little villages were quiet and enjoyable.
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Day 1 route at RideWithGPS
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TCX Course

Day 2 Rimouski to Matane

Distance: 57.2 mi. Elevation: + 1291 / – 1276 ft

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Day 2 route at RideWithGPS
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TCX Course

Day 3 Matane to Sainte-Anne-des-Monts

Distance: 57.6 mi. Elevation:  2391 ft

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Gaspe bicycle tour day 3 elevations
Day 3 route at RideWithGPS
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Day 4 Sainte-Anne-des-Monts to Rivere-de-Madeleine

Distance: 58.9 mi. Elevation: 4001 ft

This was an amazing ride along the shore at a 24 mph speed aided by the wind, with mountain cliffs towering above us.

Option: Continue to Grande Valee’ for total 70 miles. This 10 mile section goes inland, with long steep climbs over the mountains. The shoulder is non-existent in some places.and the road is therefore not marked for La Route Verte. (not recommended).

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Route at RideWithGPS
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Day 5: Grand Valee to Riviere-au-Renard

Distance: 40.1 mi. Elevation: + 3600 ft

We chose to drive the section from Rivere-de-Madeleine to Riviere-au-Renard, which crosses the mountains and which does not have shoulders in some sections, and is not yet part of Quebec’s La Route Verte.

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Gaspe bicycle tour day 5
Day 5 route at RideWithGPS
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Day 6: Riviere-au-Renard to Gaspe’

Distance: 44.7 mi. Elevation: + 3128 ft.

Forillion Provincial Park is the green area in the map below. The park road on the south shore of the park offers wonderful climbs and gorgeous views.

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Gaspe bicycle tour day 6
Day 6 route at RideWithGPS Le parc national Forillon and Gaspé
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Day 7: Gaspe’ to Perce’

Distance: 47.0 mi. Elevation: + 2500 ft.

There is a paved bicycle trail that follows the coast for several miles from Gaspe’. Despite a moderate headwind we made good time along the shore.  For the last 5 miles, Rt. 132 winds up into the mountains with two prolonged 14-15% climbs, and descends into Perce’ at 17% grade and no shoulder. Deb was the only one brave enough to ride that final mile.


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View from near our motel in Percé

Gaspe bicycle tour day 7

Day 7 route at RideWithGPS: Gaspé to Perce Percé
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From Percé the drive back home took about 14 hours, which we split into two days.  Rt. 132 follows the shoreline on the South Shore, with good wide paved shoulders, but the scenery is not quite as spectaculor, but there are occasional wonderful views, as shown below.

More tours of the Gaspe:

Western New England Greenway

The Western New England Greenway is part of U.S. BICYCLE ROUTE 7 that connects New York to Montreal. The corridor largely follows near U.S. ROUTE 7 through the very western portions of CT, MA AND VT. It links with the EAST COAST GREENWAY at the Merritt Parkway near Norwalk, CT. at the Southern terminus, and with QUEBEC’S ROUTE VERTE at the Northern terminus (Canadian border).
Trails along the route south to north:

Trans Canada Trail

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20,581 km of trail, 13 provinces & territories

The longest recreational trail in the world, The Great Trail offers a wide range of activities through a variety of landscapes, urban, rural and wilderness, along greenways, waterways and roadways. The network of the Trans Canada Trail is made up of more than 400 community trails.

 

Granfondo Mont-Tremblant

Gran Fondo Mont-Tremblant is held in the region of Mont-Tremblant, which has become a major destination for recreational cycling.

GRANFONDO MONT-TREMBLANT at RideWithGPS
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TCX Course

Cycling Montreal to Ottawa

Lachine Canal loop
Lachine Canal loop

This easy cycling trip is designed for 30-50 km rides, enjoying Quebec’s dedicated bike paths in the area from Montreal to Ottawa.

Day 1, Montreal: Two large inns in Montreal participate in the “Bienvenue cyclists” network: Hotel Pomerol 819 boul. de Maisonneuve Est, (800)361-6896 ; and Hotel St-Dennis 1254, RUE ST-DENIS, (800) 291-5927

Day 2, Montreal’s canals: Ride from the hotel today, taking the bike path along the Lachine Canal. The return is along the Piste Cyclable des Berges on the southern Shore. The distance is approximately 32 km (20 miles). When you reach the Champlain bridge, you have the option to ride across to the other side of the St. Lawrence, crossing Isle des Souers. A bike path takes you to Isle Notre Dame, and your return downtown on the bike lane on the Victoria bridge, for about 40 km of cycling. Spend a second night in Montreal.

Soulanges Canal
Soulanges Canal

Day 3: The Soulange canal bike path. Depart Montreal today, driving west 45 km to Pont des Cascades, where you’ll bike on the paved Soulange Canal Bikeway to Coteaux continuing through St-Zotique to Cornwall as a bike lane for up to 50 km. You’ll pass by quite a few abandoned locks, as well as the National Historic Site at Coteau du Lac. (At Les Cedres you have the option to cross the river on a unique cycle ferry to the Regional Park du St Timothee on Isle de Salisbury). After the ride , drive to charming Hudson on the Ontario River to the Auberge Willow Place in Hudson.

Beauharnois trail
Beauharnois trail

Day 4: Beauharnois-Salaberry Trail Today from Hudson back to Les Coteaux, which you went through on the Soulange Canal Trail. Cross Lac Saint-Francois to Grande-Ile on Rt. 201 or the bike bridge from the Solanges Trail. here you pick up the Beauharnois-Salaberry Cycling Trail , which follows the south side of Grande-Ile to Melocheville. You may cross here to Beauharnois, and continue on the trail heading back along the other side, for a total of 50 km.

ashokanDay 5: Parc d’ Oka and La Vagabonde Bike Path Today we’ll cross the Ottawa River on the Hudson-Oka ferry. We ride through Parc d’ Oka, and continue on the La Vagabonde bicycle trail which parallels the Ottawa River heading back toward Montreal. We’ll reverse course, possibly taking local roads back to the Ferry in Oka. Since this is an out and back ride, distances are up to you, with many enjoyable stops along the way. Spend a second evening at the inn in Hudson.

Day 6: Hudson-Carillon loop Today we ride 30 km west from Hudson on local roads to Pointe-Fortune, which is on the Quebec-Ontario line. We take the ferry across to the other side of the Ottawa River to Carillon, and ride back on La Route Verte 1 east, returning to Hudson at the Oka ferry for a total distance of 60 km (38 miles) of very flat cycling.

Ottawa river bicycle path
Ottawa river bicycle path

Day 7: Ottawa River Bike Path. Today we depart our inn and drive from Hudson to Rosslyn, Ottawa , where you cycle west on the Ottawa River bike path, continuing 31 km to the Rockcliffe Parkway. You can be picked up here for a drive into downtown Ottawa . A couple of inns are the Byward Blue Inn in the popular Byward Market area of downtown Ottawa at157 Clarence Street, not far from the Alexandra Bridge, and Gasthaus Switzerland .

Day 8: Cycling in Ottawa In Ottawa, several major roads are closed to motorists on Sunday mornings for “Sunday Bike days”. Take advantage of this in the morning to ride west on the Ottawa River Parkway for a 16 km loop, crossing to the Gatineau Park area at the Champlain Bridge and returning downtown on the Alexandra bridge. After lunch, continue on the Rideau Canal Bikeway, a 25 km (16) mile loop on both sides of the canal. You may also ride south on the western side of the canal, and return north into Ottawa on the Rideau River bike path. We stay a second night in Ottawa..

 

Cycling the Cabot Trail

A cycling tour of the world-famous Cabot Trail on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island

“I have traveled around the globe. I have seen the Canadian and American Rockies, the Andes, the Alps and the Highlands of Scotland, but for simple beauty Cape Breton outrivals them all “ –Alexander Graham Bell

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World renowned for its beauty, the Cabot Trail is also the most popular multi-day cycling route in Canada. It is the greatest protected wilderness in Nova Scotia. As cyclists, we may well get the opportunity to photograph black bears, moose, and white tail dear. The coast is famous for whales, porpoises, and seals.

We toured Cape Breton and the famous Cabot Trail in the summer of 2003. This route is hilly to mountainous, and requires riders to be physically in shape. We will ride a clockwise route in order to take advantage of the stiff tailwinds that will literally help lift us through the two toughest days of climbing. Our early September weekend was chosen so that the summer traffic, complete with wide campers and motor homes, has mostly dissipated. This is also the time when mosquitoes and black flies have disappeared. The slightly cooler weather is a plus for those long climbs you’ll be enjoying! The total distance is 179 miles. View at RideWithGPS.

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DAY ONE: St. Anns. Our first destination was the village of St. Anns, on the Cabot Trail. We stayed for the night at the Chanterelle Inn, overlooking the valley where the North River joins St. Anns Bay. Borrowing from the lines of a classic Cape Breton barn, the Inn celebrates the regions First Nations, Gaelic and French heritage and the beauty of nature in an elegant setting along the Cabot Trail. That afternoon, take the opportunity to do a sweet preview ride of up to 35 miles around St. Anns Bay. For this ride, we take the Cabot Trail south to Rt. 205, then turn north along the east side of the Bay, and switching over quickly to local route Rt. 312. Two miles before reaching Englishtown, we take a 5 minute ferry ride (cyclists ride free, and the ferry leaves every 10 minutes.) Looking out into the Bay, you’ll see rocky points known as the Bird Islands. Upon reaching Tarbotville, we turn south, returning to St. Anns on the Cabot Trail. Distance: 30 miles.

cabot_groupDAY TWO St. Anns to Margaree Valley. After starting out riding south on the Cabot Trail, we join the Trans Canada Highway (Rt. 105), with wide shoulders, only briefly. Then we take Rt. 205 to Baddeck. This charming resort village is often called the starting point of the Cabot Trail. Just before reaching town, well stop in at the Alexander Graham Bell museum, a National Historic Site. We turn west on the Cabot Trail, ride past Lake O Law, with rolling hills, following the Margaret River. Hunters Mountain at an elevation of 500 ft. (really a hill) offers only a moderate challenge.. Distance: 45 miles. Spend the night at the Normaway Inn.

DAY THREE : Margaree to Chetticamp: At Margaree Forks, take the side road to East Margaree to visit the Margaree Bicentennial Museum, with many artifacts from the area. Not long after reaching the towns of Margaree Harbor and Belle Cote, and turning up the coast, you’ll pass the unusual Scarecrow Theater, an outdoor display of 100 scarecrows representing public figures from Cape Breton’s history. We continue up the Cape Breton Coast to Cheticamp, West Main Entrance to Cape Breton Highlands National Park. We begin to encounter the foothills of the Cape Breton Highlands. Cheticamp is the remote Acadian west main entrance to the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. A fishing port, it also offers whale-watching. The vibrant Acadian culture of this town includes a fiddling style all its own. Cheticamp calls itself the Hooked rug capital of the world. A not to be missed side trip is Cheticamp Island, where you’ll view a lonely lighthouse high on the bluffs. View pictures of this outpost of civilization. Distance: 41 miles. Tonight we recommend the Auberget Doucet Inn and Restaurant.

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DAY FOUR: Cheticamp to Cape North: Get ready, for today is your greatest challenge ride! For the next two days, you’ll will be encountering grades up to 15%. On the plus side, there’s almost always a stiff tailwind that will help you cycle up these mountains, and you’ll be sure to see eagles soaring! After riding north 5 miles, we pass the Visitor Center at the Cape Breton Highlands National Park entrance. Then for 6 miles, the Cabot Trail remains very close to the water as we tackle a tough ascent, but with incredible scenery. We mostly maintain this altitude, with rolling Alpine terrain, and at 17 miles, we reach the summit of French Mountain (455 meters). Just past French Lake is the Bog Walk, an interpretive boardwalk trail that explains the highland’s incredible beauty! At mile 27, we are at the summit of MacKenzie Mountain (elevation 335 meters). Here we begin a 6 mile moderate descent to Pleasant Bay on the Gulf of St. Lawrence. And its uphill again, with a ride to the summit of North Mountain (elevation 445 m) at mile 38, about a 5 mile climb. Then we descend again, to the village of Cape North. While this is the Cape Breton ride of which many cyclists dream, rest assured that our support van will be there to assist with the hills, and provide plenty of refreshments, and water! Distance : 44 Miles. Tonight’s stay is at the Markland Resort in Dingwall, Cape North. Frommers Guide says it’s “.. the best resort location on Cape Breton Island”…”the best evening meal at the top of the island.”

cabot_lunchspotDAY FIVE Cape North to Ingonish Although not as challenging as the day before, there are plenty of climbs and descents. We leave the Cabot Trail, and follow the 15 mile Alternative Scenic Route which has very little vehicular traffic that affords spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean all the way to Neils Harbor, a very picturesque fishing village. At Smelt Brook, stop in at the Sea Spray Cycle Centre. Along this route we visit a stunning coastal panorama, with mountains climbing right from the sea. White Point is one of the most beautiful fishing villages on the route. There’s a 3 mile climb, and then a 3 mile descent to New Haven. We rejoin the Cabot Trail at Neils Harbor, another fishing village, with shops and services. We ride close to the Ocean, again with spectacular views. Many people like to stop for a swim at Black Brook, and Green Cove is actually the site of magnificent blocks of pink granite! The cycling’s not too difficult here. Distance: 32 miles. Tonight’s stay is at the Keltic Lodge, perched on a narrow stretch between two bays.


DAY SIX Ingonish to St. Anns
After passing through the villages of Ingonish Ferry, Ingonish harbor, and Ingonish Beach, we begin a 3 mile ascent to the summit of Cape Smokey (elevation 366 meters), with a breath-taking view of the ocean and its coastlines. Then there’s a 3 mile descent, with some very steep drops, an average 12% grade. From there we have gentle riding the rest of the day. At mile 35, we continue on the Cabot Trail where Rt. 312 joins from the left, to the ferry. We head back to St. Anns, through an area known as the Artisans’ Loop, where you might want to obtain souveniers from the ride. Distance: 47 miles. We stayed again at the Chanterelle Inn

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Cycling Montreal, Laurentides, Gatineau, Ottawa and Ottawa River

This week-long tour is built around Le P’Tit Train du Nord, a 200 km (120 mile) bicycle path that originates just north of Montreal and continues to Mont Laurier in the Laurentian Mountains (referred to as the Laurentides in French). The loop continues south from there to Ottawa, and then along the Ottawa River before returning to the start location. There is an option to skip Montreal. We have selected the evening stop locations for optimal use of provincial campgrounds and/or inns that are part of the “Bienvenue Cyclistes” network. The total distance for this tour is approximately 600 km (370 miles) with inn and campground options along the way. Check out the bicycle camping version for the option to start at Voyageurs Provincial Park in Ottawa and bypass Montreal. You may follow a reverse version of this tour from Ottawa in this You Tube video made by Alan Metcalf of his fall 2009 tour of the Laurentines.

Resources

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Saturday: Montreal

 

Inns: Two large inns in Montreal participate in the “Bienvenue cyclists” network:

  • Hotel Pomerol 819 boul. de Maisonneuve Est, Montréal, (Québec) H2L 1Y7 (800)361-6896
  • Hotel St-Dennis 1254, RUE ST-DENIS, MONTRÉAL. TEL : (800) 291-5927

Both inns charge approximately $15 /night for leaving your automobile in the parking area for the week.

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Montreal bicycling routes

 Sunday, Day 1: to Sainte-Adele or Val David

In the morning we depart the hotel, taking la Route Verte 1 paved bike path approximately 12 km through Montreal, crossing to Laval at Pont ile Perry. La Route Verte continues as a stone dust trail next to train tracks through Laval for 17 km. Cross the Riviere des Mille Isles on Route Verte 1 to Lorraine, taking unmarked roads for one km through Rosemere to Sainte Therese, where we join the Lower Laurentians Linear Park (mostly paved). This trail becomes the P’tit Train du Nord Linear Park in Lafontaine just north of Saint Jerome.

Inns:

  • Auberge du P’tit Train du Nord, (Bienvenue Cyclistes) 3065, rue Rolland, Sainte-Adèle, Québec. 75 KM from Montreal. 1 877 979-2225.
  • Auberge La Bruyere in Saint-Adele. 75 km (47 miles) from Montreal to Sainte-Adele.
  • Auberge Champetre, Rt. 117 Sainte-Adele ((800) 363-2466

Campgrounds: Camping Laurentian (Bienvenue Cyclistes) in Val-David. Total. 1949 rue Guertin – Val-David. Tél.: (819) 322-2281. 85 km (53 miles) from Montreal to Val David

Longer distance options: Montreal to Saint-Faustin 119 km ( 74 miles). Montreal to Mont Tremblant 137 km (83 miles)

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Monday Day 2: Val David to L’Annonciation or Nominique

Our destination today is Lac Nominique. At 50 km from Val David we reach the town of Mont-Tremblant-Village, which is the gateway to popular Parc national du Mont-Tremblant. Full service campgrounds include Camping Diable in the town of Mont-Tremblant_Village or Camping Chutes aux Iroquois in Labelle.) At 60 km in Labelle, Le P’tit Train du Nord becomes a paved trail all the way to Mont Laurier. We continue toward today’s destination, L’annonciation or Nominique.

Inns: Several inns in Nominique:

  • Gite le Coup de Coeur, 2088 Chemin des GeaisBleusNominingue
  • Accueil du Peti Lac which appears to be a mixed inn/hostel
  • Maisons des Jeunes
  • L’Auberge le Ville De Nominique,

Camping Options in L’annonciation:

  • Camping Le Fou de Roi, adjacent to the P’Tit Train du Nord.
  • Camping Municipal Veronique and Camping Le Fou de Roi

Distances:

  • Val-David to Nomininque 100 km. 85 km to L’annonciation
  • Sainte-Adele to Nominique 110 km. 95 km to L’annonciation

Tuesday, Day 3: Lac Nominique to Mont Laurier

Continue on this fully paved but less populated section of Le P’tit Train du Nord to Mont-Laurier, where you will have time to check out one of the town’s advertised cycling loops, or enjoy a shorter day of cycling to explore this popular destination.

Inns:

  • La Maison de la Rive, 415 du Portage, Mont Laurier. (bienvenue cyclists), $70 /night double occupancy
  • The Comfort Inn (bienvenue cyclists) (800) 345-6465, 700 Blvd. Paquette, Mont-Laurier, Quebec

Camping options:

  • Camping a La Clairiere is 5 miles south of Mont-Laurier on Chemin Du Tour de Lac
  • Camping Parc Joan is 2 miles east of Mont Laurier just off Rt. 117.

Distances: L-Annonciation to Mont-Laurier is 45 miles. Lac-Nominique to Mont-Laurier is 34 miles.

Extra ride options: With a shorter ride today, you may choose to add one of their recommended cycling routes or take time to visit this popular town. A 47 km (30 km) ride is up and back down the other side of the North River from Mont-Laurier to Mont-Sainte_Michael. Or ride the 50 km loop south to Notre-Dame_du_Pontman and back.

Longer distance options: You may continue to Maniwaki, 81 miles from L-annonciation, or 71 miles from Nominique.

Wednesday, Day 4: Mont Laurier to Gracefield

We leave le P’tit Train du Nord today, taking Rt. 117 west, then Rt. 107 south to Maniwaki, then south on Rt. 95 km to Gracefield. A stone dust/gravel alternative bike route from Maniwakee is the Vallée-de-la-Gatineau Bike Trail which goes along Blue Sea lake, 57 km south to Gracefield.

Inns:

  • Auberge L’Entre-Deux-Mondes‎ in Gracefield ($60/ night) (Messines population 1600, Gracefield population 600).
  • Hotel Chénier‎unstarred, 258 ch du Lac Cayamant, Wright (8 km west of Gracefield) (819) 463-2331
  • Cabin and camping option: Le Bivouac d’ La Ancien camping Gracefield

Camping options:

  • Camping Pioneer, Rt. 105 in Gracefield
  • Camping Petit Lac, Messines, QC, 70 km from Mont Laurier.

Distance: 95 km (60 miles) Mont-Laurier to Gracefield. Option from Maniwaki to Ottawa, 80 miles.

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Thursday, Day 5: Gracefield to Ottawa

We ride 64 km south on Rt. 105 from Gracefield to Parc Gatineau north of Ottowa. Instead of Rt. 105, you may also take the gravel Veloroute des draveurs to Low, then continue south on Rt. 105 Rt. 105 has wide paved shoulders but traffic can be heavier near Ottawa. In Wakefield, take the paved bike path and cross the Alexandra Bridge to Ottawa. The bridge has a very wide bike path.

Distance: 100 km Gracefield to Ottawa.

Inns:

  • The Byward Blue Inn is in the popular Byward Market area of downtown Ottawa and lists a basic room at an affordable $79 /night: 157 Clarence Street, Ottawa, (3 blocks after bridge).
  • Another value is the Gasthaus Switzerland. After crossing the Alexandra bridge, bear right along MacKenzie Drive. In four blocks, turn left on Rideau St., where you will find many inns to choose from. Turn right on Cumberland St. three blocks after turning onto Rideau.
  • The Hi-Ottawa Jailhouse Hostel offers private or shared rooms for one of the lowest prices in town.
  • There are also several chain inns along or near Rideau St. in downtown Ottawa.

Camping

  • The Ottawa Municipal Campground is 20 km (12 miles) west along the Ottawa River Bikeway after crossing the Alexandra bridge. Using this campground will add 12 miles today and the next day.
  • Camping in the Parc de la Gatineau north of Ottawa in Quebec. Take Rt. 366 west (not east) from Wakefield instead of continuing to Ottawa. Continue 2 miles to Saint Cecile, then 2 miles south on Chemin du Lac Phillipe to Lac Phillipe family campground. Note that the campground is 74 km (46 miles) from our start in Gracefield, and 47 km (28 miles) from Ottawa. Using this campground would necessitate an additional day of cycling and/or change of routes for the following day.

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Cycling in Ottawa: While in Ottawa, don’t miss riding on the Rideau Canal Bikeway, a 16 mile loop on both sides of the canal. Or, ride south on the western side of the canal, which starts just a few blocks from the Alexandra bridge, and then return north into Ottawa on the Rideau River bike path. And check out the Capital Bikeway web page.

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Friday, Day 6: Ottawa to Carillon

Take Rideau St. through Ottawa, cross the bridge over the Rideau River and take the Rideau River bike path to Sussex S
t. In a few blocks you will join the Ottawa River Parkway. Near the end of the parkway, there is an option to take the ferry across the Ottawa River to the Quebec side. We continue in Ottawa, taking local roads near the river to Hawkesbury.

Distances: 130 km (80 miles) from downtown Ottawa to Carillon. The ride may be shortened by 7 miles if using local roads from Ottawa to Hawkesbury instead of staying along the river. The ride is several km longer if taking La Route Verte 1 full distance from Ottawa to Carillon.

Inns: Maison Desormeaux in Carillon welcomes cyclists.

For a shorter ride, stay overnight in Hawkesbury at the Best Western L’Heritage Inn. (110 km from Ottawa). Or you may ride to attractive Van Kleek Hill (a few miles south of Hawkesbury), staying at the Top of the Morning B&B.

Campground option: Voyageur Provincial Park is on the Ottawa River, about half way between Monteral and Ottawa and only a mile from the provincial border. A ferry crosses the river from nearby Pointe Fortune to Carillon.

Saturday Day 7 Carillon to Montreal

We continue east the entire way on La Route Verte 1, (taking Cheminmin 2E to Rt. 344 ) from Carillon to Parc national d’Oka. From there, ride 60 km to St. Jerome, taking La Vagabonde (La Route Verte 1 paved trail) to Deux Montagnes. Continue all the way into Montreal following signs for La Route Verte. Cross the bridge over to Laval. Take Boulevard Ste-Rose east and then a paved bike path along the Boulevard. Continue on Route Verte 1 bike paths back into Montreal to the hotel where we left our cars.

Distance from Carillon: 90 km. (55 miles).Day6_inns_map