Off-Road exploration of the Laurentides


Trail and Signs“P’tit Train du Nord” means “little train of the north” in English.  When it was constructed around 1900, this rail line was key to the development of industry and tourism in the Laurentian Mountains (“Laurentides” in French).  The trains stopped running and the rail bed was abandoned in the 1980’s, but now it’s been converted to an off-road trail that transports cyclists from the outskirts of Montreal about 200km (124 miles) northwest to Mont-Laurier.

The trail runs along a collection of rivers and lakes that keep the grades moderate and the scenery pleasant.  More than half of the trail is paved, including the entire northern half and about 8 miles around Mont-Tremblant.  The southern section is gravel.

This is one of the most popular trails in Quebec, with gentle (but steady) climbs and lots of nice towns along the way. 

It is also designated as part of Le Route Vert 2 and Le Grand Sentier.

Official Sites: P’tit Train du Nord,

Difficulty:  Easy-to-Moderate

Ride Type:  One-Way or Out-and-Back

Surface:  Paved and Gravel


Continue reading “P’tit Train du Nord Rail Trail”

Triangular Tour of Southern Quebec

Trail and SignsQuebec has a great collection of cycling routes, ranging from rail trails to well-marked roads and urban bike lanes.  A few years ago, I read about a loop ride from Montreal up into the Laurentian Mountains, down to Ottawa, and back to Montreal. This summer, I finally mapped it out, packed my gear, and hit the road for a solo adventure.  It was a great 8-day, 360-mile ride.

It’s easiest to think of this tour as a triangle:

  • The first leg heads out of the suburbs northwest of Montreal along the P’tit Train du Nord rail trail and ends in Mt. Laurier.
  • The second leg follows roads west out of Mt. Laurier to Maniwaki, where it connects with the Veloroute du Draveurs heading south to Lows.  From there roads and/or trails lead the way into Ottawa.
  • The final leg follows the Ottawa River back to the outskirts of Montreal.

There are lots of options:  camping or hotels/BnB’s, trails or roads, short days or long rides.  You can customize your agenda to suit your goals.  Hopefully my descriptions will help you plan an enjoyable ride.

Feel free to jump ahead to a specific segment:

Continue reading “Montreal-Laurentians-Ottawa Loop”