The Canadian Shield XL is a bikepacking route unlike any other in the region. At 1200km in length and with over 15,000 metres of climbing, there is no other route that can provide the same amount of challenge. This route will take you through, over and across some of the most rugged and beautiful parts of Western Quebec. With the vast majority of the route being unpaved, this route takes you over hills and mountains, around beautiful hard to reach lakes, on some of the best rail trail in the region and along backcountry roads that are for the most part free of traffic.
Within close proximity of Ottawa and Montreal, the Canadian Shield XL isn’t too far away. Featuring national and provincial parks, ski hills, nature reserves and rail trail, the route will take you through forests that were once the building block of this country.
The CSXL is a combination of three challenging routes through Western Quebec: the Canadian Shield 400 and the Northwest Quebec Explorer, two routes which make up the Canadian Shield Bikepacking Route. To add even more adventure, the Trouble in Tremblant loop adds another 300km and 5000 metres of elevation to the itinerary. This route is designed to take you through some of the most difficult terrain in the region and reward you with epic scenery, amazing riding and an adventure you will never forget.
The Canadian Shield Bikepacking XLis not by any means an easy bikepacking adventure. Every day will challenge you with a plethora of differing surfaces and climbs. Riding on a gravel bike is not recommended unless you have a bike that can accommodate 2″ or larger tires.
This route goes through some of the best parts of the Outaouais region, the Papineau Labelle Nature Reserve, various Provincial and Regional Parks, and ski resorts. Passing through many small towns there are ample opportunities to find a hotel for the night. Campgrounds are located sporadically and there is always the option to wild camp.
The physical difficulty of the route is very much determined on the average amount of days and speed at which a person rides. Overall, I would grade this route as difficulty level 9 as the route is liberally peppered with tough climbs, gnarly trails and chunky 4×4 roads. Climbs throughout the route, some of which are very steep and challenging will even require some hike-a-bike in order to successfully crest the hill. Many of the gravel back roads are difficulty 3-4, and there are definitely sections of rugged terrain with steep sections. However, as a whole, the amount of difficulty 7-8 terrain will take its toll on you. Add to the the difficulty of the Trouble in Tremblant route and you have a solid challenge that will kick your ass.
While much of the riding of the Canadian Shield 1300 includes copious amounts of gravel roads and easy going singletrack, the sheer amount of tough unmaintained road, challenging singletrack, climbs and back-country roads will challenge even the most skilled riders. This is especially true if you are riding more than 100km per day.