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Hut to Hut fatbike trip at Papineau Labelle Wildlife Reserve

Discovering the Papineau Labelle Wildlife Reserve


Photos and Text by Karine Corbeil and Alexandre Provost

The Papineau-Labelle Wildlife Reserve, ideally located between Montreal and Ottawa, was our designated playground for one of those cold March weekends. The idea was both to discover a new spot for fatbiking and to showcase the charms and attractions of this large wildlife reserve, one of the largest in Quebec.


Despite being only 2.5 hours from a major center to the east or west, we are no less in the woods! The charming villages of Chénéville and Duhamel (and its many deer...) were the last hamlets on our route before arriving at the SEPAQ's Gagnon reception.

Brigitte and Gilbert, being most welcoming, took care of our luggage as we prepared to hit the trail. We rode on the Petit Train and Grande Allée trails at sunset and by headlamp to get to the Vieux-Foyer chalet. The trails are promising with a base traced by the reserve's snowmobiles and hardened by the cold (not public snowmobile trails). Once there, the place is dreamy: vintage chalet, wood, wood stove, water drawn directly from Lake Ernest, the whole kit!

At -23°C in the early morning, we took some time for breakfast but quickly went out to explore. Heading north, the trail leads us to the Fascinant chalet where we cross paths with Brigitte doing her rounds. It's sunny, but the ground doesn't thaw at all, and we ride well.

We stop along the way at the Héron chalet to warm up a bit. The concept of chalets open to everyone during the day is interesting; we can chat with other people on site.

This Siberian cold created a thick layer of ice on the lakes, allowing us to venture out and explore Lake Ernest with our Chic-Chocs in the evening. We even say hello to some French friends in the Doucet chalet and its igloo!

Sunday morning, we leave our haven under the sun, heading south via Lake Ernest. We join the Petit Train trail again and turn west. Our exploration then takes us to the Sourd 1 chalets, then to Sourd 2 via Lake du Sourd.

Well-maintained facilities, a superb network of rolling trails, and the most pleasant welcome await you and your fat bike at the Papineau-Labelle Wildlife Reserve.

In short,

Where? Papineau-Labelle Wildlife Reserve

When? March 2017

Temperature? -23°C

Kilometers? 60



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