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Old 08-05-2010, 06:56 PM   #1
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Joined: Nov 2009
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Great Northern Quebec Adventures


As many of you, I have been always attracted by the northern part of our great continent for some awesome motorcycle riding adventures. After previous northern trips to Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Labrador this year was my turn to ride to Caniapiscau at the end of the Trans-Taiga Road in northern Quebec. This is the farthest point from any town on a road in North America (745 km). To make things even more interesting, I have decided to ride as many forestry/gravel roads as possible, within the time available, to get there and back from the Gatineau/Ottawa area.

The following was my itinerary:

Stage 1: La Peche (Masham) - Fort Coulonge – Adventure Joncas (Réserve Faunique de la Vérendrye) - Senneterre (400 km of gravel and 150 km of pavement);

Stage 2: Senneterre – Lebel sur-Quevillon – Matagami – Radisson (150 km of gravel and 600 km of pavement);

Stage 3: Radisson - LG1 - Longue Pointe - Caniapiscau (700 km of gravel and 300 km of pavement);

Stage 4: Caniapiscau – Sakami LG3 (Lac de la Montagne du Pin) and join some of my friends already up there on a fishing trip with their trucks and boats (700 km of gravel);

Stage 5: Lac de la Montagne du Pin – Nemiscau and meet with a good friend working up there (300 km gravel and 300 km of pavement;

Stage 6: Nemiscau – Chibougamau, the remainder of the North Road (300 km of gravel);

Stage 7: Chibougamau – Reservoir Gouin – Parent – Mount Laurier – La Peche (400 km of gravel and 350 km of pavement);

Total was approximately 4,700 km (3,000 km of gravel and 1,700 km of pavement) for the actual main trip;

Stage 8: Lake Abitibi – Cadillac – Rapide Sept – Belleterre – Adventure Joncas – Fort Coulonge (500 km of gravel and 150 km of pavement); this portion was done 2 weeks after the main trip as part of another adventure;

Black: Pave Roads (1,700 km)
Green: Forestry and Gravel Roads (3,000 km)

I ride most of time alone but this time around I have decided to bring along a good friend of mine Gilles Desjardins who is a vintage motorcyclist enthusiast who always dreamed to do such a trip. After much planning and preparation we were all set to leave on the 30th of June 2010. Some of the stuff we brought were complete camping gear, fishing gear, spare tubes, flat tire repair kits, complete tool kits, 12v air compressor, butane stove, rations, satellite phone, spare gas with heavy duty containers, camel pack for drinking water, insect repellent, complete first aid kit and others supplies.

Stage 1 – Réserve Faunique de la Vérendrye:

After a nice ride using back roads in the early morning mist through the Outaouais hills, we reached Fort Coulonge along the Outaouais River where we took the road “Chemin du Bois Franc” North direction Réserve Faunique de la Vérendrye. The road was pretty rough but fun to ride. After approximately 120 km we took the road “Chemin du Lac Manitou” where the roads became a lot more challenging especially in the heavy rain. After a few hours, we finally reached the “Adventure Joncas” located at the far South West corner of the Réserve Faunique de la Vérendrye where we ate lunch and got some gas.

In the afternoon, we took the gravel road 28 East and 38 North and after a few hours we reached the Natives Reserve at Lac Simon. From there we took highway 117 North to Louvicourt and 113 North to Senneterre where we decided to spend the night at a small and affordable motel after an amazing first day. The Réserve Faunique de la Vérendrye has a surface area of over 12,589 square km and has over 4,000 lakes with a variety of forestry and gravel roads that can be ridden in week-end adventures for all kind of riders with different skill levels.

Marchand Bridge” in Fort Coulonge was built in 1898 and is 129 meters long, the third longest in Quebec

“Chemin du Bois Franc” you have to watch for holes and big rocks

Adventure Joncas at the Réserve Faunique de la Vérendrye, the main big cottage has unfortunately burned down in Nov 09

Réserve Faunique de la Vérendrye Forestry road 38 North, near Lac Simon

Stage 2 – James Bay Road:

We left early and took forestry road R1005 to Matagami, which is a modern wide and open gravel road. We gassed up in Matagami and move on to the James Bay road office at km 6, at which you need to stop to register. They provided us with good road info and list of phone numbers in case of emergency. We rode the paved 600 km road to Radisson in a nice sunny day with a rough 20-30 km head wind. We only stopped for lunch at the Rupert River rest area at km 257 and at km 381 which is the only place with gas, cafeteria and beds available for the night at around $80.

We spent the night at the Auberge de Radisson, a bit pricey but quiet and comfortable. This is where you can also register to a free 4 hour guided tour of La Grande 1 and/or LG2 (complex Robert-Bourassa) hydro-installations. Note that LG 2 is an underground power generating station. You can not access LG2 via any other means so we decided to ride the bikes to LG1 the next day, we didn`t want to take a half day for such visit, maybe some other time...

Gilles at the beginning of the James Bay Road

Rupert River rest area at km 257

The famous bridge at the Rupert River

Forest fires damages along the James Bay Road, sometime they temporary close the road due to fires

The directional sign in Radisson

Stage 3 – Longue Pointe & the Trans-Taiga Road:

We rode to La Grande 1 the next morning near Chisasibi and crossed the dam in order to ride the gravel road to Longue Pointe located on the shore of the actual James Bay. You have a beautiful view of the James Bay over here. You can also see the numerous amazing Natives large wooden canoes equipped with 50 to 80 hp out board motors made for wide and open water. We rode back to Radisson for lunch, gassed up before taking on the Trans-Taiga Road (670 km of gravel to Canipiscau).

We stopped at km 56 on the Trans-Taiga Road and notice that Gilles`s bike was leaking final drive fluid, we rode to the Sakami rest area at km 59 and set up camp for the night in order to evaluate the situation. Well nothing we could do the final drive bearing failure was obvious, the bike had 135,000 km. We used our satellite phone to call Gilles’s wife Elyse, a former military driver, for recovery. I just could not believe it as she drove 1,300 km in less than 26 hours with a pick-up truck and trailer to join us in Sakami. I can honestly say that she has saved the trip as nobody would leave a friend stranded, especially up north, until help has arrived. We took the opportunity, while waiting to do some fishing, relax and meet some great people passing by. Early Sunday morning Gilles and Elyse were on their way back home realizing that this incident could have been a lot worst and a lot deeper into the Trans-Taiga Road. Gilles never shown a sign of discouragement, well there is always a next time. Later on we found out that his BMW R1150GS 2003 has not been properly service by the dealership and that the final drive main bearing has been replaced by the previous owner but unfortunately not properly installed. For my part, I have decided to move on and complete the trip as originally planned.

LG1 near Chisasibi

Numerous Natives camps along the way

Native’s canoes in Longue Pointe along the actual James Bay

Camping at the Sakami rest area at km 59 on the Trans-Taiga Road

Gilles fishing near the Sakami rest area

Nice healthy Doré (Walleye) to eat - bring your fishing rod….

Let’s have some Doré (Walleye)….

Gilles and Elyse on their way back – great people

It was a nice and sunny day to reach Caniapiscau, the road is amazing and challenging in some ways, you have to stay alert for rocks, holes, loose gravel and you have that wonderful feeling of being alone on earth. I stopped at the Pontois River where you have a similar bridge as the one at the Rupert River and a nice campground/rest area at km 203. Note that the few camping spots were taken by fishing expeditions, I don’t blame them from fishing up here, you can’t go wrong.

I arrived at Mirage outfitters at km 358 to gas up and grab something to eat. The cook was kind enough to heat up something for me outside the meal hours. They are friendly people at this fantastic remote place. Note that a room for the night is $70.00 with external/common showers/bathroom, $90.00 with bathroom and shower in your room …not to bad for a remote place like this… Keep in mind that this is the last gas stop to Caniapiscau and back for a total of approximately 620-640 km, make sure that you have enough gas and it is also a good idea to try your bike fully loaded before the trip to determine your basic range.

I rode on to La Grande 4, La Forge 1 and La Forge 2, the road is getting a bit narrow after each of these hydro major installations however the road is in fairly good condition allowing to keep a good speed, it was a real blast to ride up to Brisay. I arrived at Brisay at km 582 and did some sight seeing which are well indicated and really worth seeing. I rode the last 90 km rougher road to Caniapiscau and got there in the evening in a beautiful sunset. The spillway and the 3 large dams are also worth seeing. I set up my camp just at the bottom of one of the dam. The black flies were pretty bad up here, glad I had a fly cover jacket with a head net. I drank my southern comfort and smoked a nice cigar to celebrate my new accomplishment before crashing in the tent for the night.

Trans-Taiga Road around km 120

Pourvoirie Mirage Outfitter at km 358 – last meal and gas stop

Pourvoirie Mirage Outfitter reception and gift shop area

Trand-Taiga Road near LA1 around km 450

Brisay impressive spillway at km 590

Brisay Wonderful Power Station

Caniapiscau dams - you are only approximately 200km from Schefferville in Labrador but there is no road yet

Caniapiscau spillway

[FONT='Times New Roman','serif']Improvise Camping at Caniapiscau[/font]

Stage 4 – Lac de la Montagne du Pin (LG3):

Early departure in a wonderful sunrise, on the way to Brisay a helicopter and a few trucks were parked by a prospector’s camp along the Caniapiscau road. I got heavy rain on from Brisay to Mirage, the fairly nice road from the previous day was long gone and it deteriorated quickly, you really have to pay attention so you don’t sink into the soft shoulder, especially in curves. I arrived in Mirage before lunch and I was able to take a nice free hot shower and again I had another outstanding meal with some of the staff including a guide, a pilot, a maintainer, the manager and few customers, really great people with different backgrounds resulting in some very interesting conversations.

The rain had slowed down a bit so I rode to Sakami / La Grande 3 in the afternoon. I crossed LG3 dam and rode the extra 50km to the Lac de la Montagne du Pin and met with my friends who had been there on a fishing trip for the past week. They were glad to see me in one piece and we had some nice barbecue Lake Trouts, good wine, beer and got set for the next fishing day. We spent the next day fishing and catching some nice Lake Trouts and had another outstanding meal.

After inspecting my bike I was a bit worryed about the condition of my Metzeler Karoo T rear tire wear, I was not sure that I will be able to finish the trip with it (it was brand new when I left) so I used the satellite phone to call my friend Gilles who we had previously met in Lebel-Sur-Quevillon because he was flying the next day to work in Nemiscau (my next destination). Gilles was able to find a tire in Val D’or (Dunlop Trail Max) and he was going to bring it with him. Nice to have good friends all over….

Helicopter refuelling point along the Caniapiscau road

Arriving at my friends fishing camp at Lac de la Montagne du Pin

Nice Lake Trouts caught with good friends – what more can you ask? Special tanks to Jimmy Dubé

Stage 5 - Nemiscau:

The next day we tore down the camp and loaded up all the trucks and trailers, we were set to take the road at mid-morning. I took this opportunity to load my luggage into one of the trucks to save some wear on my tire. We were going to meet at different locations until we reach km 274 at the junction to the North Road (Nemiscau, Chibougamau).

We met at km 542 for lunch at the Yasenski halt. We were met by the game wardens, who did empty our deep freezer to count all fishes and we were bang on. At least they let us finish our lunch before the big inspection.

We finally reached the junction to the North Road around supper time and met with Gilles who drove from Nemiscau in order to have a few cold ones and chat with the gang. We did not replace my tire as I felt that I had enough to reach Chibougamau the next day. Well after some farewell me and Gilles rode on the 120 km to Nemiscau and he was able to sign me in, got the chance to visit their facilities, got a good meal and a few more cold ones before hitting the bed for the night.

LG3 spillway at the far end

Gassing up the bike at km 274 using a great “SCEPTER” heavy duty plastic “Jerry Can”

Getting ready to leave at Nemiscau’s work camp – thanks to Gilles who brought me a spare tire by plane

Stage 6 – North Road & Chibougamau:

After a very nice breakfast at the Nemiscau cafeteria, I rode on the remainder 300 km of the North Road to Chibougamau. The northern road is wide and fairly open with some hilly sections. A lot of dust because there is more traffic than the Trans-Taiga Road but still a lot of fun to ride.

I arrived in Chibougamau for lunch and went to the Yamaha and Honda dealership “Sport Plein Air Gagnon” to get my tire replaced. An extremely friendly staff who got the job done in less than 20 minutes for $20.00. I gave the technicien enough tips for a six pack and decided to spend the rest of the day in Chibougamau. I stayed at the Motel Nordic, very nice, clean, good restaurant with an adult entertainment establishment just across the street ….. pure coincidence....…

Typical Northern Road scenery – note the dust from other vehicles

Southern entrance to the Northern Road - it can be temporary close due to forest fires and others

Stage 7 – Parent Crossing:

I got another early start, and rode south on highway 167 direction Lac St-Jean. At km 98 in the Reserve Faunique Ashuapmushuan I took the forestry/gravel road direction Obedjiwan. After a few km(s) I turned south towards La Tuque and Parent. The 200 km of forestry roads to Parent are a lot of fun to ride, a mix of sand and gravel makes it for a challenging ride at a fairly good average speed. I got cut again by heavy rain before Parent and it does not take very long for these types of roads to become very unstable to ride especially on a heavy bike with lots of luggage. I arrived in Parent for lunch and met some more great people. In the afternoon I rode the other 150 km to Mont St-Michel where the road is paved again. I spent the night in Mt Laurier and got home the next morning to the wife and kids.

Chibougamau – Parent – Mont Laurier Crossing
Green: Gravel Roads

On the way to Parent

Old wooden dam near the Reservoir Gouin

Few damage bridges to Parent, be careful

My BMW R1200GSA 2008 has performed extremely well and has proven to be another great bike for these type of adventures


You can ride to James Bay (Radisson) easily on a street bike (longest leg without gas is around 390 km), nobody will leave you stranded, but if you are looking for some more adventure the Trans-Taiga and the Northern Roads are quite amazing to ride with an appropriate motorcycle. For even more extreme riding including for week-end adventures you can consider making the challenging crossing from Chibougamau to Mt Laurier via Parent, from Ft Coulonge to Val D’or or Rouyn- Noranda areas via the numerous gravel roads. Thousand of possibilities in our great northern playground. Oh yes, if you like fishing and you have a licence bring a telescopic rod with a small tackle box for some more fun.

Note that most of these roads are isolated with very minimal to no traffic, you need to go as much prepare as possible to face any eventualities and emergencies including being able to survive for a few days....

Have a nice and safe rive

Alain Larouche


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Old 08-05-2010, 07:13 PM   #2
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Incredible ride! Thanks for the detailed report and pics!! Looks like you had a great adventure
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Old 08-05-2010, 08:35 PM   #3
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looks like more fun than Alaska........thx Bruce
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Old 08-05-2010, 09:35 PM   #4
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Old 08-07-2010, 04:28 AM   #5
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Great Quebec Northern Adventures

Thanks folks, Quebec is a very nice place to ride and the people (french speaking) are also great. The following is the remainder of my trip which include Stage 8 of the article above and hopefully this will make some of you come up here and ride this awesome canadian province...

Stage 8 – Cadillac to Fort Coulonge Crossing:

Two weeks after completing my trip, I drove up to Lake Abitibi in North West Quebec to a family reunion. I drove up using the pave highway in order to be there on time but I drove back mainly using forestry and gravel roads – adventure was calling again.... An amazing and challenging 450 km crossing from Cadillac which is a small town located between Val D’or and Rouyn-Noranda to Fort Coulonge. The gravel roads from Cadillac to Rapide Sept and Belleterrre are in good conditions and are easy to ride. From Belleterrre it gets more interesting, I took the road of “Lac a la Truite” and made the challenging crossing starting at km 63 to “Adventure Joncas” which is basically a snow mobile trail in some areas. It was a real blast to ride. From “Adventure Joncas”, I took the same roads as previously taken on our previous trip, basically the “Chemin du Lac Manitou” and the “Chemin du Bois Franc” to Fort Coulonge and home to “La Peche”. I rode approximately 500 km of gravel/forestry roads and 150 km of pavement in 12 hours. Some of these gravel/forestry roads are in rough shape and very remote as I only met 7 vehicles during the day…… another great crossing……

Cadillac – Rapide Sept – Fort Coulonge Crossing
Green: Gravel/Forestry roads

Belleterre to “Adventure Joncas” 100 km Crossing can be challenging in some areas

The key to the Belleterre - “Adventure Joncas” Crossing is to find the bridge North of the Antiquois Lake

Arriving at Adventure Joncas from Belleterre - a fun crossing

Family reunion in Northern Quebec - My Brother Mario and great uncle Maurice - had some good hunting with these guys

Thanks to the wife Nancy and my tree kids (William, Jeffrey Stacy) for their support

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Old 08-07-2010, 04:51 AM   #6
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Beautiful country, great report, thank you.
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Old 08-07-2010, 06:24 AM   #7
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Cool pics, looked like a nice trip. Beauty country up tha way.
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Old 08-07-2010, 02:54 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Deadly99
Cool pics, looked like a nice trip. Beauty country up tha way.
I have previously read your northern trip and you did in part inspire me to do a similar trip this year.....

Congrats on your adventures..........

If you ever pass by my place stop by for a cold one....

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Masham (La peche)


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Old 08-07-2010, 04:02 PM   #9
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Good trip up that way. The helicopter pilots up there are wild.

I remember there be three places to get fuel on the TT road this past year. There is another hunting camp on the North side of the TT road that I believe is before Mirage Camp. Then you can also buy the high dollar fuel from Air Saguenay (sp?) at the hunting/fishing camps at the end of TT road past Brisay.

This Frenchman was staying at that Northside of the road camp in September when everyone else was gone. He studies wolves in the Tiaga area and lives in the bush most of the year. Hardy sucker:

And here's Air Saguenay's fuel depot at the end of the TT, I think it cost something like $70 bucks to fill everything up here

Damn good time riding up Northern Quebec, good report
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Old 02-04-2011, 10:54 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by AL "FLYING CANUCK" View Post
I have previously read your northern trip and you did in part inspire me to do a similar trip this year.....

Congrats on your adventures..........

If you ever pass by my place stop by for a cold one....

11 chemin labelle
Masham (La peche)

Amazing... I'm googling to find info about TransTaiga and what do I find ?
2 friends of mine speaking together !

Alain, I have a picture on the same bridge than yours:

september 2010, Raid Ridaventure 2010

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Old 02-05-2011, 01:47 AM   #11
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Ride report

Very nice report and a good way to promote this great area that not many people know and it shows Quebec knowledge in hydro electricity.
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Old 02-05-2011, 08:38 AM   #12
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Hey !
Pat is in the place !

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Old 02-05-2011, 10:06 AM   #13
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Nice and thanks for the pics, one of my good friends spends a lot of time that way setting up/ inspecting water treatment plants, lots of good stories.

And my great-grandfather was amongst the founders in Palmarolle in 1920s, before roads and much amenities, always glad to see pics of the area.The family farm is still in the family too.


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Old 02-05-2011, 05:55 PM   #14
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Great RR and pictures. I rode up to Longue Point last summer and really enjoyed the trip. I didn't have the time to do much other exploring than that but maybe some other time. Thanks for alll the great inspiration.
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Old 02-05-2011, 06:10 PM   #15
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Small World

Alain thanks for the great RR, bring back some good memories. Alain, now I'm sure this world is small, Gilles and I met in Lahr about 20 years ago, both of us had bikes in those days too. The joke is I was talking with him last week while he was in Edmonton and we didn't even think of talking about bike, dam.

Thanks again for a great RR and say to Gilles when you see him again

Garry (Woody)
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