3-Day Western Quebec Saddle Bag Ride…
Related: Outaouais Riding Snapshot
Even with this Outaouais snowmobile tour planner, it’s difficult to pick a favourite from the region’s 2,200 kilometres of snowmobile trails. But the 100 we rode northward on Regional Trail 322 between Trans Québec Trails 13 and 63 were truly remarkable. All the more so because The Outaouais delivered so many exciting trails!
Outaouais Snowmobile Tour Planning Choices
Located in western Québec, the Outaouais Region offers two distinct saddle-bagging experiences for visiting riders. One is a remote ride of more than 500 kilometres in its less populated western area. This loop circles a huge swath of territory on Trails 63, 386, 43 and 311 and 13. The other saddle-bagging experience occurs in the more populated eastern part of The Outaouais.
These eastern trails run from the Ottawa River through the Gatineau Hills and Valley, all the way north to the Lac-Baskatong Reservoir. This the backyard playground for residents of Ottawa and Gatineau. As a very accessible area, it also provides excellent day-riding opportunities for local snowmobilers.
That makes it ideal for a long weekend getaway, too. Which is why we chose this part of The Outaouais, for its multiple trails, friendly villages and good services.
Additionally, for most riders trailering from Ontario, it’s the closest Québec snowmobiling region. From the Greater Toronto Area, it’s also an easy drive. If you’re riding in through Ontario’s Snowmobile Country Snowmobile Region (OFSC District 6), head to the scenic snowmobile bridge across the Ottawa River at the end of the end of TOP Trail B101Q near Renfrew.
Farther west, you can also cross on the bridge near Rolphton at the end of TOP Trail A101Q. Both connect to Outaouais Region snowmobile trails.
For those accessing The Outaouais while trailering from the Montreal area, trail access is available near Gatineau. Meanwhile by snowmobile, you can enter the region via Trans Québec Trails 43 in the south or 63 farther north.
Some may want to include The Outaouais as part of a longer tour. If so, these same two trails also connect to the regions of Abitibi-Témiscamigue to the northwest and Laurentides to the east. In fact, several years ago, I staged my own week long, 1,800-kilometre loop northbound from Montpelier in The Outaouais. Of course, you can also combine its eastern and western areas into one longer, multi-day exploration covering the entire Outaouais region.
Our Outaouais Snowmobile Tour Planner
But my intention for this visit was to focus on what that eastern section of The Outaouais has to offer snowmobilers. Like many riders, we had limited time for our excursion. What’s more, we only wanted to ride moderate distances, with a daily average of about 225 kilometres.
To accomplish this, we selected our accommodations from among the many ads on the Outaouais Trail Map. Then we planned our route using the FCMQ Interactive Trail Map. The result was an itinerary including overnighting at three snowmobile-friendly lodgings. We stayed at La Pointe à David (Grand Remous), Auberge Couleurs de France (Duhamel) and Auberge du Draveur (Maniwaki). See Where We Stayed, below.
Staging From La Pointe à David
Depending on your preference, any of these exceptional lodgings would serve well as a staging hotel for this three-day Outaouais Region loop. However, we chose to start and end our ride at La Pointe à David. Frankly, with more variable winters, we wanted to stage from the most northerly Outaouais location. This choice would avoid chancing possibly uncertain, late season conditions closer to the Ottawa River.
Additionally, La Pointe à David is very secluded. So, I felt most secure about parking my truck and trailer there for several days. Besides, I was also intrigued by this inn’s positioning on the tip of a narrow peninsula thrusting far into the reservoir. This location seemed worth checking out for summer Sea-Doo rides.
Our Route and More Options
So what did our Outaouais saddle bag snowmobiling ride look like? Day one, we rode 223 kilometres from Lac-Baskatong to the Duhamel area. There were several opportunities along the way to extend the total distance by taking slightly longer alternate trails.
We headed west from Duhamel on day two, then north to Maniwaki for a total of 240 kilometres. Again, we could have added about 50 kilometres by taking another small trail loop just west of Kazabazua. Instead, we snowmobiled directly into Maniwaki on the Trans Quebec 13 rail trail.
Finally at 213 kilometres, day three was slightly shorter from Maniwaki north to Lac-Baskatong. This ride included the section of Regional Trail 322 I mentioned in the opening paragraph. A shorter day gave us time to pack and load up for an early drive home next morning.
But another option to lengthen it is to follow the Trail 322 stake line across Lac-Baskatong. Then, pick up Local Trail 225 to complete a 75-kilometre round trip to the famous Montagne du Diable (Devil’s Mountain) lookout.
Additional Loop Choice
With more time, another option would have been to extend our eastern ride by two extra days. We could have accomplished this by heading south from Maniwaki towards the Ottawa river. Then, doing a circle of 400 kilometres more on Trails 311, 43 and 308, with overnights at Fort-Coulonge and again back for a second stay at Maniwaki.
If decide to add this loop to your own ride, it’s worth visiting the aforementioned snowmobile bridge over the Ottawa River. It connects Québec and Ontario just east of Shawville at Portage-du-Ford and is marked by a bright yellow box on the Outaouais Trail Map.
Final Word About Outaouais Snowmobile Tour Planner
Regardless of what routes you choose in the eastern part of The Outaouais, I bet you’ll have a great ride. What’s more, our day loop itinerary is good if you are planning a couples or family ride, where quality lodgings and excellent food can be a priority.
Either way, the local snowmobile clubs keep their trails in good shape and well-signed. Meanwhile, although the region is scattered with lakes, there are surprisingly few ice crossings. Roads crossings are also few and far between. Scenery is always interesting, and we only encountered one of those unsightly logging clear-cuts that can be so prevalent.
So if you’re looking for an easy ride with exceptional trails, outstanding accommodations and scrumptious food, give my Outaouais snowmobile tour planner a try!
Where We Stayed
We stayed at this family-owned and operated inn for the first and last nights of our ride. It’s located at the end of Chemin Baskatong, a 27-kilometre drive north of Highway 117. This waterfront property near Grand Remous is also snowmobile accessible. A local trail runs 5 kilometres north from Regional Trail 322.
With scenic views of Lac Baskatong, La Pointe à David offers a by reservation only snowmobile package. It includes breakfast, dinner and accommodation in main lodge rooms and housekeeping suites. The Resto-Pointe is also located there. It offers a limited but varied menu of gourmet choices. Our well-travelled group unanimously agreed these were the best dinners we’ve had anywhere on our many snowmobile tours. No wonder it’s a must-visit restaurant choice for so many local snowmobilers!
What’s more, La Pointe à David has on-site gas, a convenience store and even a SAQ outlet. Meanwhile, the local club grooms the trail right to its front door. Also with good Wi-Fi service, plus truck and trailer parking, La Pointe à David checks every lodging box a touring snowmobiler could wish for.
After our second riding day, we overnighted at the rustic but contemporary Auberge Couleurs de France. This inn is scenically located on the eastern shore of Petite lac Preston. Secluded and by reservation only, it’s directly accessible from Trans Quebec Trail 43 just east of Duhamel, This deer-filled village is also home to the nearest gas station.
Catering to a diverse clientele including many Europeans, Auberge Couleurs de France features an authentically log-designed, two-level main lodge. Under its impressive cathedral ceiling, 12 well-appointed and uniquely designed guest rooms are available. There’s also a fireplace lounging area, and an excellent restaurant offering select dinner recipes from various regions of France and Quebec. Daily buffet breakfasts offer a copious array of cereals, fruits, breads and cheeses.
In addition, classic chalets with various guest capacities surround this cozy main structure that also has and good Wi-Fi service. One building offers a hot tub for everyone. Full-service spa facilities are also available. Another building houses the inn’s snowmobile rental fleet for guided tours. Other available winter activities include dog sledding, cross country skiing, snow shoeing and sledging.
The impressive quality of our first two lodgings so impressed us. So much so that we wondered if Auberge du Draveur could measure up – and it did, no problem. Sure, it offered a more urban flavour due to its prime location on Rue Principal Nord (Highway 105) in Maniwaki. But Auberge du Draveur welcomes snowmobilers with many hospitable touches. Rooms are large and classy, yet homey. It provides good Wi-Fi service and also a full-service spa.
The on-site Resto Pub Le Rabaska provides an extensive menu of very tasty Canadian-style appetizers and main courses, plus live music on weekends. For early rising sledders, breakfast gets a 5:45 AM jump start.
Their snowmobile package includes one night’s lodging, and a three-service dinner plus breakfast. It also includes free access to indoor swimming pool, indoor/outdoor hot tub, sauna, gym, and use of a sled security system.
Meanwhile if you’re arriving by snowmobile, access off of Trans Quebec Trail 63 is well signed. Plus, riders can get fuel just north of the hotel on 63 or a few kilometres south of town on Trans Quebec 13. For those trailering in, Auberge du Draveur provides plenty of truck and trailer parking near the main entrance.
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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.