Quebec Bikepacking Traverse

Go across Quebec through the less explored roads. Discover the forestry and maritime heritage of La Belle Province. Meet with the people that built that nation. Relish the protected landscape of our national parks. Test your abilities on a diverse itinerary. Participate a this project to put Bikepacking on Quebec’s map and attract bicycle travellers towards us.

As hands-down the longest bikepacking route in Canada, the Quebec Bikepacking Traverse is a route unlike any other. The Traverse starts in Rouyn-Noranta, a town in Northwest Quebec’s Abitibi-Témiscamingue region and ends 3000km later in Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula.

This adventures will take you through every type of terrain imaginable, from gravel roads to rail trail, singletrack, mountain passes, and forestry roads; all while attempting to keep you as far away from paved roads as possible.

  • National Parks: 12 National Parks across Canada
  • Wildlife Reserves: 7 Wildlife Reserves
  • ZECs (Zones d’Exploitation Contrôlée): ZECs are one of the best kept secrets of conservation. Created in 1978 with the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune’s (MRNF) launch of “Opération gestion faune,” ZECs are non-profit organizations in charge of managing wildlife resources. Riders will have the chance to ride through 14 different ZECs.
  • Réserves Fauniques: 2 Nature Reserves
  • Mountains: While traversing Quebec, you will spend the entirety of the route going up, over and around Quebec’s Appalachian and Laurentian mountains.
  • Swim: Quebec is covered in lakes that make for a great stop-over, whether a chance to cool down with a swim, a spot to cook a meal or a place to throw your tent for the night.
  • Single-track: Some of the single-track on this route will challenge your abilities. If you are not very confident with single-track descents, I recommend you take your time and walk your bike.
  • Photos: Take the time to snap some pictures along the way. There are some amazing views to take advantage of. You will see so much of Quebec throughout this tour, it’s best you bring a few spare batteries or power banks.
  • Wildlife: Throughout the 3000km of this route you are bound to see a lot of wildlife. Be bear aware and follow safety procedures such as hanging your food at night, eating away from where you sleep, and not keeping any food products in your tent at night.
  • Resupply: Resupply is important on such a long adventure. Pay extra attention when planning your route to be as prepared as possible for any eventualities.
  • Prepare accordingly: When going off the grid, ensure that you tell your loved ones where you are going and how long you plan to be gone. It may also be prudent to have some form of satellite communication device
The Quebec Bikepacking Traverse is 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.
  • Mountain Bike: For mountain bikes, it is recommended to use tires on the bigger end of the spectrum, in order to provide as much comfort as possible. 3″ tires would be overkill, but something in the 2.25″ to 2.6″ range would be ideal. A full-suspension bike would be overkill.  Although I don’t judge a route’s difficulty based on the distance, over a duration of 3000km, you are going to want the comfort of a mountain bike.
  • Gravel Bike: A cyclocross bike is not recommended for this route. That does not mean it is impossible to complete it on 38C tires, it just means that it would be overly difficult and possibly dangerous. If using a gravel bike with 700 wheels, you’ll want to have a newer style gravel bike that can accommodate tires in the 2″ or larger range. Many parts of the route can be ridden on smaller tires such as 45C, but some parts would be too difficult and risk injury. Only ride a gravel bike if you have a lot of experience riding singletrack on drop bars or you may find yourself walking more than you like.
  • Setup: Run tubeless if possible. You can use bikepacking style bags or a hybrid setup with small panniers. A lighter set-up allows of easier riding, especially in the hillier and more technical sections. You are also going to want to have a wide range of gear options for climbing the bigger and tougher hills.
  • The GPX files have almost all been verified at this point, but the website has not been completely updated to reflect this. If you are interested in riding parts of the route, taking photos and documenting any necessary information, do reach out to Etienne over facebook or through the website.
  • The map below has no POIs and is the complete route. This is not very practical for such a long distance. Please refer to bottom of the page for direct links to the various sections on Etienne’s website to prepare and plan for the ride.
  • Campgrounds: Check the POI’s for camping locations and use your diligence to look over the maps beforehand.
  • Wild camping: When wild camping, do your best to leave no trace. Find a quiet spot near a lake, in a field, etc. Quebec is not like Ontario, where maps of Crown land indicate where camping may be possible. In my judgement, I would just stealthily avoid being seen.
  • Fresh water everywhere: This part of Quebec is liberally covered in lakes and rivers. These are all great locations to fill up water bottles. Be sure to always use a water filter or purification tablets to avoid getting sick. There are also water taps near the areas with camping where you can fill up.
  • Restaurants/Cafes/Bars: Throughout the Quebec Traverse, there are lots of towns to get food and snacks, be it restaurants, cafes, food trucks, convenience stores or gas stations. Make sure to pay close attention to which sections of the route lack resupply options and make sure to stock provisions, as it will not always be possible to find food at mealtimes.

Average Physical Difficulty – 8

  • 1-2 – Relatively level riding
  • 3-4 – Regular rolling terrain with sustained climbing
  • 5-6 – Rugged terrain with frequent climbs, some of which may be steep and unrelenting
  • 7-8 – Very rugged terrain with abundant climbing, some of which is very steep and unrideable
  • 9-10 – Numerous very steep, climbs requiring bike-pushing and/or carrying

Average Technical Difficulty – 6

  • 1-2 – Smooth riding surface with few obstacles (e.g., graded dirt roads, rail trails); suitable for novice mountain bikers
  • 3-4 – Track has occasional obstacles and steep sections (e.g., maintained forest roads, mellow singletrack); suitable for beginner mountain bikers
  • 5-6 – Continuous sections of track may be rocky, loose, and steep; (e.g., 4×4 roads or singletrack in rugged/rocky terrain) suitable for intermediate mountain bikers
  • 7-8 – Narrow trail with regular obstacles, sustained steep grades; suitable for intermediate to advanced mountain bikers
  • 9-10 – Very challenging riding with frequent large obstacles, exposure, very steep grades; suitable for advanced mountain bikers
This route was created by:

Etienne Théroux.

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