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Ouareau Forest Bikepacking Circuit

Overnight at the Lac du Pin Rouge

***Note: This exploratory outing was carried out as part of a partnership between Panorama Cycles and the MRC de la Matawinie, with the goal of developing a multi-use trail. A bikepacking circuit would be considered in this project. This trail is therefore not yet operational.el.

Photos and Text by Alexandre Provost et Karine Corbeil 

What could be better than taking time out on a weekend to breathe the air of the great outdoors? We all live life at 100 km/h, and taking time for oneself sometimes seems more like a chore than a reward.

So, we left Montreal with this mindset, a bit late that Saturday. Having to put aside many tasks felt heavier this time. We wanted to go play outside, and we knew it could only do us good. Let's go!

Saturday around 12:00 PM, we finally arrive at the reception of the Forêt Ouareau – Massif sector and discuss the project with Chantal. She seems skeptical when we present her with the game plan: heading to Lac du Pin Rouge via the Grande-Jetée sector entrance, passing through cross-country ski trails and forest roads. "I'm not sure if it's passable in that area... and there's a big hill over there..." she repeats several times. Thinking back, we knew from the start that some "uncertain routes" had slipped into the project, but well... it seemed rather appealing!

The plan seemed simple enough to us: reach the Lac du Pin Rouge campsite before nightfall with our Chic-Chocs, while making the most of this warm July weekend in the forest, just 1 hour from the city.


Time flies, and we have to skip another "uncertain" section along the way to reach our destination before nightfall. We use more "certain" paths and pass through magnificent places. There are some good climbs (and descents!) along the way!

The last climb of the day brings us to the campsite on the Pin Rouge Lake peninsula around 8:45 PM, mission of day 1 accomplished! The swim and the beer are good, and the campfire is comforting!


Day 2, we explore the trail north of Pin Rouge Lake and head back south towards the Grande-Jetée sector. There's a superb path that runs along a ridge. Our initial route at this spot being clearly "uncertain," we took this path, and it turned out to be our favorite! From the summit, we could even glimpse the skyscrapers of Montreal and Mount Royal!

The return was, of course, full of surprises with some improvisations... "this is where we need to go... ah, here...? Are you sure...? yeah, it's here." On our way, we took the indispensable trail on the east bank of the Ouareau River. The trail being technical in places (currently pedestrian), we had to walk some sections. Bike-wise, the fats did very well since the large tires absorb a lot of the obstacles. Also, the Chic-Chocs rolled really well on sometimes sandy paths. What was most impressive under these conditions with the fats was the climbing: smooth, full of traction, all finesse!

The potential for bikepacking is huge in the Ouareau forest with several forest roads providing access to unique and remote areas. Some paths go over the mountain tops and offer breathtaking viewpoints. It's a place still very wild for those who love to embark on adventures and even step a little out of their comfort zone.

For us, the uncertain paths quickly made us forget the apprehension of the start, for our greater good.


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