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Three days of bikepacking with fatbikes – Maine Huts & Trails

A winter adventure on fat tires

This year’s annual ride with Panorama Cycles ambassadors took place in winter. The team went for three days of fatbike bikepacking, following the Maine Huts & Trails network.

 – An article written by our ambassador Samuel Lalande-Markon

The annual Panorama ambassadors ride, winter edition

After riding in the Ouareau forest with the mission of cooking a now-legendary poutine over the fire, the bar was set high for our second anual ride with Panorama Cycles ambassadors. To add a bit of spice, we decided to organize this ride during winter, an unusual season for bikepacking. The idea was a good one, but there was one major problem: there are no multi-day fatbike trails in Quebec to ride from hut to hut.

That’s where we got the idea to visit the Maine Huts & Trails network, which offers over 130 km of free public trails, nearly 80 of which are accessible by fatbike. Three huts – much larger and more comfortable than the name ”hut” suggests – make it easy to plan a little overnight adventure. At around 3.5 hours from Montreal, the area is close enough to Quebec for a long weekend.




First day

We met up in Bromont on a Friday morning and headed for the USA with our oversized mounts. After crossing the border near Lac-Mégantic, we took Maine State Route 27 south to Eustis, a small community of just over 600 people. It’s the perfect place to fill up on whoopie pies, a generously caloric local specialty, before accessing the trail networks via the Stratton Brook Trailhead Parking.

While it was raining in southern Quebec, a little snow was falling on the magnificent forest canopy. The multifunctional trails are groomed several times a day and are accessible to Nordic skiers, snowshoers and fat-tired cyclists. The firm surface enabled us to ride at a good speed even though the day was already well under way. Stratton Brook Hut is located off the main trail, at the top of a particularly steep slope. We couldn’t resist the temptation to climb the slope, which is fortunately mitigated by a switchback ascent. The descent was worth the effort, especially as it follows a long section of false flat (in the right direction!) to the Carrabassett River. One last climb, and we were at the Poplar Stream Falls Hut. Not your typical “cabin with a wood-burning stove” hut, but a genuine eco-lodge where a team of four was busy cooking up comfort food. On the menu for the evening: delicious poke bowls accompanied by microbrewery beers.

The inevitable visit to the basement gave us a better understanding of how this energy-independent facility works. The engineers among us, Simon and Vincent, were particularly impressed by… the Clivus compost toilet system!


New day, new adventures

Nearby, the Poplar Creek waterfall is well worth the few minutes of walk to reach it. Back on the trail, the challenge was to deal with the thaw that affected lift. At less than 3 psi, we were nevertheless able to ride to Halfway Yurt, which is, as its name suggests, halfway to the next lodge. Huddled around the wood-burning stove, we enjoyed the sandwiches that the Poplar Hut team had prepared for us that morning. A beautiful slope took us down to the immense Flagstaff Lake, where we spent the night in conditions just as comfortable as the day before. Our engineers couldn’t resist another look at the Clivus system!




Last ride before heading back to Montreal

Unfortunately, the Grand Falls Hut further north has not been accessible to the public since the pandemic. However, an additional five kilometers of trail provide access to the lake outlet and the road network. On our third and final day, we headed for the impressive Long Falls on the Dead River. It was the perfect destination to complete the adventure before returning to the Long Falls Dam Road parking lot, where a shuttle service took us back to the starting point. But beware! The shuttle takes a long detour of over an hour to the south.

Equipped with the Chic-Chocs and Torngat Ti models from Panorama Cycles, our team of adventure riders had the bikes of their dreams to tame the circuit’s generously uneven terrain, even if it meant pushing the mounts up the slopes on occasion. Anyone who hasn’t had a few kilometers of winter fatbike trekking in their thighs hasn’t really had a taste of the sport!

We returned to Montreal tired and happy on Sunday evening after sharing a victory poutine at Resto-Bar La Patrie, dreaming of the possibility of a winter fatbike tour in a Quebec refuge… and of our next ambassador outing.

Learn more (rates, maps, huts,…) :

Photo Credits : Trevor Browne (Messkit Magazine)


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