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Winter bikepacking: Exploring Charlevoix backcountry

Exploring Charlevoix Backcountry

Photos and Text by Pierre Bouchard


In winter, are we confined to riding in circles, chasing our tails on the groomed trails of fatbike, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing centers, bursting with excitement atop our oversized wheels? Fortunately, no! Not in Charlevoix, anyway! In fact, adventure, when the "carryability" index allows it and our friends the snowmobilers blaze a trail for us—on non-federated trails, of course—is always ready to transport, elevate... exhilarate us!

Exploring a padded universe streaked with pristine forest trails and paths, one can move within this astonishing white planet, the Charlevoix backcountry in winter, for days on end, thus connecting wood lodges, chalets of the Traversée de Charlevoix, and shelters of the Free Territory of Pied-des-Monts.

Let's call this type of endeavor "winter high route bikepacking or fatpacking." Here are some scenes and moments from an escapade that saw my partner Antoine Dufour-Simard and me pilot our Chic-Chocs from the plateau near the Jacques-Cartier Lake massif to the bottom of the Charlevoix meteorite crater... an intergalactic fat circuit!
Antoine pulls himself out of the valley of the Martres River, a tributary of the Malbaie River, towards the highest point of the route that brushes 1000 meters and overlooks Lake Martres.
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Following a night in the Marmotte cabin, one of the stations of the famous Charlevoix Crossing, the second day begins on the bridge that spans the Gouffre River in the Pied-des-Monts area.

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Let's break bread as we enter the territory of the Martres ZEC (Controlled Harvesting Zone).

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The Jacques-Cartier Lake Massif in all its splendor...

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In the heart of the Charlevoix hinterland in winter, an intergalactic fat bike circuit!

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The outhouse of the La Marmotte cabin is not insulated and acts as a thermometer: -30 Celsius that morning!

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Antoine in "high route winter fatpacking" mode...

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Trailside find...

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Intergalactic descent along this notch in the rim of the Charlevoix astrobleme where the highest source of the Du Gouffre River flows. The survivors of the great forest fire of 1999 give these surroundings a lunar character.


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