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Laurentides Wildlife Reserve - Cyriac River Bikepacking Circuit

Cyriac River Sector
Photos and Text by Romain Rosant and François Carier Deziel
Dear journal,

Once again, I've let myself get caught up in the game.

Departure on Friday morning from Stoneham. Early. Always too early at the moment. As usual, we think we know what we're getting into. This time, a three-day bikepacking trip in the Laurentides wildlife reserve, relax. At least that's what I tell myself as I load the bike and gear into the car. Melissa, Marie-Ève, François, Alexandre, everyone is ready for these few days of autonomy. Everyone is "really excited". Plus, it seems we can fish.


After a few hours driving on Route 175 North, we pass the spectacular and legendary rest stop "l’Étape." Our starting point on two wheels is close since we quickly turn onto Route 17 to park our vehicles. We load the bikes, and it's a "go."

We ride a few kilometers on Route 17 then head north for a "Hike a Bike" session in a superb peat bog along Lake Asselin. We finish this first short half-day in the White Mountains refuge, courtesy of SEPAQ for this little adventure.

 Indeed, this first "half-stage" allows us the time to fish and enhance our dinner with some deliciously fire-cooked trout by Alexandre. For my part, I spend a good part of the evening repairing François's rear shifter, who, as usual, pulls the "guess what I just broke?" stunt on me. A classic ever since I've been riding with him. This time, he outdoes himself, as from the first few kilometers, he was no longer able to change gears. Not very practical for a journey like ours. But the wonderful setup of the refuge is perfect for this operation. We spend a good time there and decide to sleep over.

The sunset is beautiful. Everyone goes to bed very early, except me. As usual! Except there are no flies.


We set off the next morning, taking routes 19 and 21 via Lake Pikauba. A succession of climbs and descents, gravel, and sand. Still no flies. Then comes the highlight of the day. Bikepacking indeed always brings its share of surprises and adventure. Venturing off the beaten path, pushing one's loaded bike ("hike a bike") through peat bogs, rivers, mountains is common, especially when wanting to map a new route. It's often at the mercy of chance, weather, remoteness, and the unknown that we face such obstacles.

This time we choose a dubious shortcut towards Lake Lalonde to save us 20 km of biking. Well, it seems there was a "trail" 2 km long, 15 years ago (don't ask me where the information comes from). Shall we try?! Why not! After several hours spent struggling in the "boreal bush" with a 50-pound bike, pushing it, pulling it, lifting it... well, I never saw a trail.

In fact, to be objective, I would guarantee that not even a moose had ever passed through there. And I mean it. Three hours. Three hours for less than two kilometers, you get the picture? We emerge scratched and scarred all over. But happy. As my father used to say: "Fortune favors fools." Exactly that!

We arrive at the Cyriac refuge late in the day, later than planned. Like the night before, we fish there (but without success this time), we dine there, and we sleep there. Early.


The next day, we return to the starting point via Route 23 and then Route 21. We skip the multiple shortcuts and the potential adventure they offer, aiming to get back home in the afternoon. And then, we had our fill of adventure the day before. We speed along, still no flies, the gravel is nice, the landscapes beautiful. We finish in the early afternoon with a good cold beer wisely left in the car cooler by Alex and Marie-Eve. Some people are just that prepared.

In the end, dear journal, a wonderful bikepacking-fishing combination that SEPAQ allowed us to experience. Our conclusion: the wildlife reserve is particularly well-suited to this formula. Good distances, great wild landscapes, endless "shortcut" options, and for those in a hurry, a network of roads and forest trails perfect for bike expeditions with big tires. If you're lucky, no flies!

Jokes aside, we hope this experience will open the door for others.

Adventure is adventure.


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