Bikepack the Gats

Bikepack the Gats is a challenging bikepacking route through the Gatineau Park. This is not an easy trail bike ride. There is plenty of single-track mixed in with with flowing double-track, water crossings and hiking trails and some serious hike-a-bike.

This is not meant to be an easy ride. It’s not a gravel bike ride with a bit of single-track. It’s a lot of MTB routes with some gravel mixed in. It’s meant to challenge you physically and mentally. If you are new to bikepacking, I recommend you try smaller sections of this ride before attempting the whole thing.

  • Gatineau Park: Riding through Gatineau Park is always a please. Being in a provincial park so close to the nation’s capital is a fun way to spend a couple days.
  • Single-track: Getting off the bigger trails and onto some of the single-track will challenge every mountain biker out there.
  • Double-track: Steep climbs and flowing descents take the rider on some of the best trails in the park.
  • Hike-a-bike: Hitting the trails near the fire-tower, will take you on some challenging hiking trails. At km 70 you will hit a massive hike-a-bike as you get up the escarpment.
  • Viewpoints: Check out the Champlain and Huron Lookouts for some fantastic views of the mighty Ottawa River and all the farmland that grows along it’s banks.
  • Swim: Lots of great swimming spots for a chance to cool down. Lac Meech, Lac Phillippe, Lac Taylor and more
  • Photos: Don’t miss the photo opportunities at Étienne-Brûlé Lookout, Champlain Lookout and any of the locations throughout the park with a bench.
  • Warning: The Gatineau Park can be very busy in the summer, particularly the area south of Lac Meech. Be mindful for other cyclists.

For this route, you are going to want a minimum of a hard-tail mountain bike with front suspension. Some of the single-track trails are specifically for mountain bikes and would be even will challenge you with rock gardens, steep descents, loose gravel and more. Although some sections of the route could be ridden with a gravel bike, the single-track sections demand more.

  • Take it easy on the Irish Whiskey and Irish Cream trails. They are pretty gnarly and there is a huge drop at the end of the trail. You can bypass it though, so slow down.
  • Enjoy the fast flowing Trans Canada Trail as you make your way towards Lac Phillippe and up to Masham.
  • The section of trail after leaving Masham will have lots of fallen trees and require a lot of hike-a-bike.
  • Heading east of Chemin Eardley-Masham will take you into the hiking trails, which will have water crossings, tough climbs, hike-a-bike and more.
  • The Lac Phillippe camp ground will give you a chance to use toilets, fill up on water and have a swim.
  • Trail 36 has some pretty rocky climbs and fun descents.
  • There is an epic double-track climb away from Lac Meech.
  • Coming down towards Chelsea town, you have some amazing flowing double-track and single-track, taking you all the way to the bottom of the Gatineau Park before changing direction and making your way back up to the start point in Old Chelsea.

This route is mostly in the Gatineau Park but does pass by a few small towns along the way where accommodation is available. Otherwise, you will need to make do with camping if planning the trip as an overnight adventure. There are also shelter’s and yurts that can be rented for a more comfortable experience.

  • Hotels: Chelsea, Wakefield, Masham.
  • Campgrounds: Lac Phillippe, Lac Taylor
  • Wild camping: The Gatineau Park is a large park in the national capital region with plenty of options for wild camping for the night. Please follow “leave no trace” practices and be aware that wild camping is at your own risk.
  • Fresh water everywhere: Lots of lakes and creeks to fill up your water bottles. There are also water taps near the areas with camping where you can fill up.
  • Restaurants/Cafes/Bars: Throughout the ride there are not tons of food places other than Chelsea, Wakefield, and Masham. Make sure to carry lots of snacks and food as this riding is tough and you are bound to eat more.

Average Physical Difficulty – 8

Although very similar to the A Day in the Gats bikepacking route, this route tackles trails that are much more challenging, taking you through trails that range from 5-10 in difficulty, from flowy doubletrack to challenging singletrack, huge climbs which will require you to hike-a-bike, river crossings and more. This route culminates in big climbs up to the Champlain Lookout and epic descents back to Old Chelsea.

Average Technical Difficulty – 7

Starting off with a tough climb up to a paved road, the route then changes to fun double-track in a counter-clockwise route through the Gatineau Park. Mixing in some tough, rocky singletrack, tough hiking trails, river crossings and more, this route will challenge you technically, just as it does physically.

This route was created by:

Chris Panasky, host of the Bikepack Adventures Podcast.

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