Touring - Your ideas for Québec City to Gaspé
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01-09-05, 02:06 PM
Hello and Bonjour!
I am starting to plan now for an expedition next summer from Québec City to Gaspé. I will NOT be hauling a tent or camping equipment. I am interested in hearing about similar trips that you have made. Specifically:
- Is the St. Lawrence south shore, from Lévis to Matane, a good route? (Please do not suggest the north shore through Charlevoix; I have already been there, and I prefer to avoid unpaved shoulders + fleets of logging trucks + 18% grades!)
- Which routes across the Gaspésie Peninsula are bicycle friendly? (132 from Mont Joli through Amqui and points south? 195 south from Matane? 299 south from Sainte-Anne-des-Monts?) Are there quiet roads that parallel these highways? Will I find stores, motels, B+Bs along these routes?
- Travelling clockwise on the eastern tip of the peninsula, say from Gaspé to Percé and points further south west (all the way to New Richmond), are there good paved shoulders? I assume that traffic along the coastal sections of Hwy 132 will be insane in the summertime.
- In what towns and cities can that I grab a train to Montréal? In other words, from which stations can you pack up a bicycle? (I know that the stations in Gaspé and Percé accept bicycles.)
Looking forward to hearing your ideas.
01-09-05, 03:13 PM
1- I don't know. I usually suggest the north shore as it's more scenic. I rode it and didn't have problem with traffic since the road is almost always 3 lane wide (2 lanes climbing, 1 lane descending). There are routes so you can avoid most of the 138, but not the hills.
The 132 can be insane too. I drove it a few times and I remember some narrow streches with no shoulders. Get a regional map from mapart to see where the backroads are.
2- I rode the 299 and I liked it very much. The pavement and traffic are pretty bad between New Richmond and Grande Cascapédia/St-Jules but after that the road is very quiet. The pavement is still a bit rough (because of the texture) but the cracks are gone. The quietness and flatness of the road makes it very enjoyable. I didn't see a single logging truck but then I don't remember any in Charlevoix either. :p
There's a burnt down motel where the 299 and Cascapédia river seperates but there's still a casse-croûte and I think they can accomodate you for the night. I was camping so I didn't ask much about that. But if you stay in New Richmond, you could easily make it to Parc de la Gaspésie the next day. There you can stay at Gîte du Mont Albert or at a cabin at the camping of the same name. I think you have to bring your own bedding for the latter. Check www.sepaq.com for info. Besides, you'll need reservations in the summer.
Road 299 is a long climb from where it leaves the river valley, then it's downhill all the way to the park, some ups and downs for a while and then downhill again from Cap-Seize to the Ste-Anne-des-Monts. Pavement is good most of the way except the first few streches of downhill where there were some nasty cracks.
3- From Gaspé, the shoulder is back when you hit the Perçé municipality limits. Sounds bad but that is about 30-40km before the actual town. There are some shoulderless stretches but nothing bad. As I remember, there are shoulders most of the time after Perçé. On my trip, the worst part were getting into Gaspé (arriving from Forillon) and between Ste-Anne-des-Monts and Tourelle.
- I don't know, see via rail website.
Will you ride from Ste-Anne-des-Monts to Gaspé? There are some nasty hills starting at Manche d'Épée but before that, the ride is wonderful! Wide shoulders, no hills and great scenery!
01-09-05, 11:13 PM
Érick has summarized it pretty well. Let me add a few points:
1. If you didn't like the hills of Charlevoix, you won't like those of highway 299. Less steep (though there is a really steep one if you travel Southbound from Sainte-Anne-des-Monts), but it's 100 to 150 km of continuous ups and downs.
2. If you must select only one side of the Gaspé peninsula, it's either :
- the north side, which is more spectacular, but more rugged, with less services (but you will still be able to find plenty of shelters);
- the south side, which is more populated, but less scenic.
3. Highway 132 has virtually no traffic from Lévis to the end of Autoroute 20 (some 20-30 km East of Rivière-du-Loup); then it picks up seriously. As far as scenery between Lévis and Matane, there are a few very nice spots, and villages are good looking.
4. One interesting ride would be from Lévis to Rimouski, Matane, Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, Gaspé, Percé and Bonaventure. There, you could pick the train at either New Richmond or Campbelton.
5. There are few parallel roads to highway 132, but there are some. I am not sure they always are interesting.
Somewhere around Rimouski, there is highway 230, which runs inland from highway 132. It has next to no traffic, but it is hillier (more hills, steeper and shorter hills) and there are less villages around. In some cases you might feel like getting a view from "high up" of the coastline, while in most cases you will feel like riding inland. Villages on inland roads are also in much poorer shape, and sometimes almost closed.
Likewise, around Gaspé there are quite a few sections where you could use the "Rang 2" (i.e. 2nd Concession road). But don't expect a continuous ride.
You will find similar alternate routes around Bonaventure, Maria, New Richmond, Restigouche...
01-10-05, 01:19 AM
Michel, I have to disagree with part of your first point. The entire 299 is 140km. Going southbound from Ste-Anne-des-Monts, it's up for 15km until Cap-Seize (difficult, mixed pavement), then you enter the park and it goes up and down until the visitor center (not bad, good surface), then it's up again for about 12-15km (not too bad, some difficult parts (at least 4km at 9%), bad pavement), then down for 15-18km (difficult northbound, smooth pavement) until the road joins the Cascapédia river. This whole strech is about 70km. After, the road hugs the Cascapédia river for an extremely long faux-plat (rough pavement) until Grande-Cascapédia, 6 kilometers before Richmond (hated those 6km, cracked pavement, no shoulders, traffic). The hills are not as steep as in Charlevoix, or even as the tip of the peninsula, but are much longer. The hills between Cap-Seize and the parks' visitor center (ups and downs part) are fairly short, and the pavement is very good. The scenery through the park is superb. Be aware that the rest of 299 is a whole bunch of nothing, that's why I liked it. The forest and Cascapédia river, a nice break from the coast.
If I remember correctly, you also like to hike. If so, I think it would be a mistake to go around Gaspésie and not stop at the park. The Mont Albert trail is unarguably the best hiking trail in Quebec and it starts right at the Gîte or the cabins at Mont Albert campground. You can also take a shuttle (12$) to Mont Jacques-Cartier trailhead. This hike is less spectacular but still quite interesting, and it is where you have the most chance to see Cariboos. Unfortunately, unless you can can ride on steep gravel road, you'll miss Lac aux Américains (http://www.borealphoto.com/quebec1/08.jpg) and Mont Xalibu (http://www.borealphoto.com/quebec3/20.jpg). You can ride to Mont Olivine trailhead. The hike is not great, but the view on Mont Albert (http://www.borealphoto.com/quebec1/11.jpg) is superb. You could also do a side trip from the Mont Albert trail but the latter is long enough already.
Near Bonaventure, I saw a "route verte" sign going inland on a shady road. I stayed on the 132 and did not regret it. Nice pavement, shoulder and a view on the sea. :)
Don't go thinking the Bay side is free of hill (people like to say that). They simply don't come as fast and the steepest are 10-11% whereas 10% is normal on the peninsula's tip. It can be also also very windy, just less so than on the St-Lawrence side (they don't put windmills there for no reason!).
I don't know anything about the 132 in the Matapédia valley.
I think you already know but just in case,some pics of my 2003 trip:
I'll put more if I can make my scanner working again...
01-10-05, 01:01 PM
Thanks for the precision on the not-so-flat area on the southern side of the Gaspé peninsula.
As for highway 299, I drove it twice. Once was long long time ago, and the other time was in early fall, with some ice on the road and a car that did not -- yet -- have winter tires, so I might have gathered a distorted memory. Both times, I drove it South to North.
The Matapedia valley is nice, but for a guy who had driven the highway betwen Shawinigan and La Tuque twice per month, I didn't find anything spectacular there.
There is beautiful scenery along the road, and in many places there are two or three roads: the upgraded highway 132 and one local road (sometimes two) on each side of the river. But these local roads have short killer hills.
Your point about the Route verte is also a valid one. While the concept is good, they often put technical "design criteria" ahead of commonsense and select a backroad just because there is little traffic, even when the scenery on a busier road would be better.
P.S. Érick, I'll look at your photos tonight. They normally are gorgeous.
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