Staging Daily Rides From Val d’Or, Quebec…
Over 3,500 kilometres of trails mean there’s plenty of choices for Abitibi-Témiscamingue day loops. That’s another good reason I ride in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region each winter with a huge grin pasted on my face.
What’s more, each night my notes for this article described our day’s ride as “awesome”, “incredible” or “fantastic”. And I went to bed each night with that good-tired feeling that follows a remarkable ride, wondering how it could possibly get any better!
Abitibi-Témiscamingue is the most westerly of Quebec’s eight snowmobile tourism regions. It’s positioned along the border with Ontario, opposite OFSC District 14. Many snowmobilers harbor the misconception that this snowy region is “way up north”. So maybe some snowmobilers overlook it when ride planning starts.
If so, you’ll miss some super Abitibi-Témiscamingue day loops. By road, this region is just over 4 hours from Ottawa. And it’s less than 5 from the Greater Toronto Area. Meanwhile, the distance from Montreal is about the same as from Saguenay Lac-St-Jean region to Quebec City. That’s far enough to get early, long lasting and reliable snow. But certainly not to be either remote nor uninhabited.
Thanks to its thriving resource-based economy, first time visitors often get surprised. But soon, they discover that Abitibi-Témiscamingue is a bustling population enclave. It’s anchored by urban centres like Rouyn-Noranda (pop. 42,334), Val d’Or (pop. 31,862), Amos (pop. 12,671) and La Sarre (pop. 7,719). The region is also scattered with many smaller towns and villages. Together, these snowmobile-friendly communities provide touring riders with good services and amenities. And their hospitality makes the region’s first-class snowmobile trails even more pleasurable to ride.
These uncrowded trails benefit from a significant geographic advantage for favourable winters. Their location virtually guarantees early snow and a long season that often lasts until early April. Also, these trails avoid most of the variable weather patterns more prevalent in some areas to the south. As a result, many riders now recognize Abitibi-Témiscamingue as a go-to destination for great trails all winter.
What To Expect
So what’s snowmobiling like in Abitibi-Témiscamingue? The terrain’s not as mountainous as in some other regions of Quebec. But Abitibi-Témiscamingue does deliver an interesting variety of up and down, straight and meandering, plus forest and farmland. Many trails travel old logging, mining, utility corridors or unopened road allowances. With only a few exceptions, they avoid lake running. What’s more, road crossings are minimal.
In addition, this seamless network of snow trails largely runs on underlying surfaces that are comparatively regular and predictable. The result is lots of gentle sweeping corners, good sight lines and to-the-horizon straightaways. For snowmobilers, this caliber and consistency of trails makes riding big kilometres each day easy.
Best of all, the snowmobile clubs of the region do an exceptional job of keeping their trails well groomed. What’s more, numerous warm up shacks offer snowmobilers rest stops and shelter along the way. Some of my favourite sections of trail include the field riding on TQ 93 east of Amos, TQ 83 from Rivière-Heva to Preissac (food & fuel), and all of Regional Trails 307 and 309.
Riding The Box
The region’s core area is a rectangle-shaped box. Each of the aforementioned four towns anchor a corner and connect by Trans Quebec Trails 83 & 93. Basically, the area bounded by these towns and trails is relatively populated (as is area around Ville-Marie). Meanwhile, the areas outside this box become progressively less so. But still with topnotch riding and sufficient services.
Want to add days or distance to your ride? Consider including a ride to Ville-Marie via Regional Trail 309 in your itinerary. Or a northern loop via Regional Trail 396 to Matagami (food, fuel & lodgings).
You can access Abitibi-Témiscamingue by either road or trail. There are two good gateway choices to the region depending on where you’re coming from and how many days you have available.
One option works best if you’re coming from anywhere along the Ottawa River or Southern Ontario. That’s to make Abitibi-Témiscamingue’s southern-most town, Temiscaming, your gateway to the region. From here, Trans Quebec 63 heads north directly through Ville-Marie to Rouyn-Noranda. Regional Trail 309 also heads northeast through Rapide-Sept to Val d’Or.
Alternatively, if you’re entering Abitibi-Témiscamingue from points farther east, like the Montreal area or the Laurentians, Regional Trail 386 will get you there. Or from Saguenay Lac-St-Jean, go west by Trans Quebec Trail 83. In either case, Val d’Or is your first gateway choice.
Hotel Continental Centre Ville, Val d’Or
In fact, Val d’Or was my staging choice for this, my fifth snowmobiling visit to the region. Previously, I’ve staged day rides out of Amos (Amosphere complexe hotelier) and saddlebag rides from each of Ville-Marie (La Bannik) and Rouyn-Noranda (Quality Inn). But this time, we stayed overnight at the Hotel Continental Centre Ville, Val d’Or to ride Abitibi-Témiscamingue day loops.
This newly renovated hotel is not only positioned in the heart of downtown, but is also central for day rides in every direction. The Hotel Continental provides easy access to the Tour de Ville around town (a ride I recommend) and from there to several good day loops.
The Hotel Continental Centre Ville is located on the main street, within walking distance of many amenities and activities. This site makes it easy to enrich your ride by experiencing the flavour of the city every night instead of being isolated at a fringe hotel. I’ve stayed in several different popular Val d’Or establishments previously. But they’ve never connected me with the heart of the city like my stay at the Hotel Continental Centre Ville.
Initially, I’ll admit to skepticism about its location for access and parking. But a snow-covered alleyway quickly put that to rest. It runs parallel to the main street behind the Hotel Continental Centre Ville. This corridor runs east-west, connecting with the Tour de Ville trail in both directions to access all day rides.
Meanwhile, the way into the hotel is well-signed. Plus, there’s an easy-access gas station & convenience store about two blocks east of the Continental where we filled and stocked up daily. What’s more, the Hotel Continental Centre Ville provides two decent sized parking lots for trucks & trailers. Plus, spaces in front of rooms on one wing provided sled parking each night.
More Hotel Amenities
When staying away from home, two of important items a snowmobiler looks for are a super comfortable bed and great food. The Hotel Continental Centre Ville delivers both. Its 67 renovated rooms have super beds. And if your group wants to socialize together, ask for their 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom suite!
Meanwhile, the Restaurant le Conti and Bistro-Bar le Tiffany are both on site, They serve up a menu featuring plentiful variety and large portions of really tasty grub, including a full hot breakfast buffet. These meals are also available as part of the hotel snowmobilers’ package, so be sure to ask about it!
Our Abitibi-Témiscamingue Day Loops
From the Hotel Continental Centre Ville, we rode three day rides. On day one (shown in yellow above), we snowmobiled 250 kilometres. We headed east to Louvricourt (food & fuel) and looped farther northeast on a local trail. It connected us to Trans Quebec 83 into Senneterre (food & fuel) for lunch before returning via Obaska and Val Senneville.
Day two, we rode another 250 kilometres (shown in pink). We travelled north to Amos (food & fuel) for lunch, then returned south via Rivère-Heva and Malartic (food & fuel).
Our final day took us 275 kilometres starting with the Tour de Ville (shown in green). Then we went south on Regional Trail 309 and back to Malartic. From there, we headed through Cadillac (food & fuel) to Preissac (food & fuel) for lunch. Then we hightailed it back via La Motte and Saint-Edmond.
More Ride Options
All in all, three primo day rides. And with more time, we could have added in overnight rides to any of Matagami, Ville-Marie or La Sarre. Alternatively, Abitibi-Témiscamingue offers three outstanding saddlebag tours for those wanting to explore: The Great Adventurer (1,106 km), The Big White (1,114 km) and The Prospector (923 km).
As you can see, there are no shortage of remarkable riding options or snowmobiling variety in Abitibi-Témiscamingue. That’s why it’s known for “Snowmobiling At Its Purest”. And it’s also much closer than you think. So be sure to keep it top of mind for your ride planning this winter!
Planning Abitibi-Témiscamingue Day Loops
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The tips and advice in this blog are the opinions of the author, may not work in every situation and are intended only for the convenience and interest of the reader, who has the personal responsibility to confirm the validity, accuracy and relevancy of this information prior to putting it to their own use.