It’s no secret that the province of Quebec has some of the best trail riding destinations in Canada. So we set off on a road trip to discover “La Haute-Mauricie”, an area in Quebec, which offers hundreds of kilometers of well-maintained ATV/UTV trails, as well as many welcoming relay stations. The purpose of this article is to document our adventure so that you may use it as a potential travel guide if ever you intend on visiting this area in one of your upcoming trips.
Our journey began at the city of “La Tuque” where we meet up with our guide Réjean Riendeau at “Motel de la Rivière”. This quaint motel offers more than adequate accommodations and ample secure parking for your truck, trailer and off-road vehicles. After a good night’s rest and a hearty breakfast, we were ready and eager to start our ride. We unloaded our vehicles and left our truck and trailer in the Motel’s parking for the duration of our 5-day trip.
We had been to the city of “La Tuque” many times over the years to cover the “12 hours of La Tuque” endurance race. In all the years we attended the event, this was the first time we actually had the opportunity to visit the city and its surrounding trail systems. The city of “La Tuque” offers the off-road enthusiast a very unique feature, a paved trail, yes I said paved! This paved trail allows you to cross the entire city and also enables you to reach gas stations, restaurants and lodging accommodations. It should be noted that pedestrians and cyclist also use this paved trail and that the use of off-road vehicles is not permitted in the streets of “La Tuque”.
Before leaving “La Tuque” and hitting the trails, we made a quick stop at “Parc des chutes de la Petite Rivière Bostonnais” (Waterfall Park). This tourist attraction is open year round and offers plenty of activities for the whole family. It is a great place to unwind and have lunch with the family and of course enjoy the breathtaking view of the waterfall from the observation tower. Best of all, free parking and no admittance fee! A definite must see while in this area.
We left “La Tuque” and made our way across the suspended bridge, which offered an exceptional view of the Saint-Maurice River and hit the trails. We had 75 kilometers to cover before getting to our first destination and faced exceptional trail conditions. From logging roads to tight wooded trails, all offering their unique scenic decors and stunning lake view vistas.
The trails are all clearly indicated and well-maintained allowing for good cruising speeds. We didn’t encounter any rough terrain, perfect trail conditions for even the entry-level rider. It’s important to note that during dry weather conditions it can get extremely dusty, so it’s imperative to bring the correct gear. Goggles and dust masks are a must during these conditions.
We arrived at our first destination “Domaine Desmarais” outfitters in early afternoon. An immense domain that covers a territory of 107 square kilometers with 32 lakes and all newly renovated solar powered cottages. Desmarais outfitters go beyond the traditional sense of an outfitter, sure hunting and fishing are on the menu, but it is also a prime site for off-roading and an ideal location for family oriented vacation. Various all-in packages are available; one will surely suit your needs and more importantly your budget.
Upon our arrival the owner Mr. Yannick Desmarais greeted us and invited us to lunch. During our luncheon Yannick talked to us about his future plans to expand his facilities to be even more accommodating for the off-road community. Yannick is a great visionary and personally I can’t wait to see if his plans materialize as they will be a definite asset to all those who practice off-roading in this area. We enjoyed the warm welcome and gracious hospitality extended to us by Yannick and his wife.
Once our tour of the facilities was complete, we were back on the trails for a short 40-kilometer ride to our next destination. This next section of trail we travelled was as easy going as the first. Some great casual riding allowing you to truly soak in what this gorgeous location had to offer. When organizing a trip we are always somewhat concerned about the trail conditions, especially when traveling with novice riders or small children. The uncertainty of getting lost or tackling trails that maybe too challenging for some may stop us from exploring a certain area. No need for concern here, as I mentioned before all trails are clearly marked and any skillset can ride here. Plus, since we are all smart off-roading enthusiasts, we all know that when exploring any new area a GPS is strongly recommend, right?
It was late afternoon by the time we rode into our final destination where we would be spending the next 2 days: “Pourvoirie Némiskau” outfitters. As I removed my helmet and stepped out of my UTV and took a good look around, I was immediately sold to the idea that this destination would be perfect for anyone travelling with friends or family. Kids playing on the lakeside beach, boats on the lake, riders unpacking their gear all in a peaceful atmosphere, as I said perfect!
This outfitting operation covers a territory of 32 square kilometers with 11 lakes and 19 superb rental cottages. Room rentals are also available in the lodge and adjacent pavilions. This outfitter offers 5-star dinning, boat and kayak rentals, spa and saunas, lakeside beach along with numerous recreational activities. As I mentioned 5-star dinning, I just wanted to emphasize that the dinning alone is well worth the trip. But be warned… Bring lose fitting clothing for your trip back, trust me you’ll need it as you may have gained a few unwanted pounds.
After way too much food and a solid night’s sleep we awoke to a pleasant surprise. The director of operations Mr. Stéphane Tremblay had organized a fishing excursion for us. After a light breakfast we hoped in our rides and headed out for a morning of fishing. All the lakes are within proximity of the outfitter, so we didn’t have far to travel. We reached a small secluded lake; weather was overcast with slight periods of rain, ideal fishing conditions. We spent a great morning out on the water and happy to report that the fish were cooperating and we managed to catch our daily quota of brook trout.
The remaining of our time at this location was spent enjoying its facilities and of course exploring the surrounding trails. We spent an incredible 2 days at this outfitter. The staff is friendly and courteous; the dinning is an experience in itself and we can’t forget to mention all the numerous recreational activities for the whole family to enjoy. We highly recommend “Pourvoirie Némiskau” and hope we get a chance to return in the not to distant future.
We had approximately 130 kilometers of riding to get back to “La Tuque”, so we said goodbye to “Pourvoirie Némiskau” and headed out. We took a different route on our way back, which was comprised of mostly logging roads. Since we were on a tight schedule to return, we saved time utilizing this route but lost all of “THE WOW FACTOR” from the previous trails we had ridden, the price to pay I guess when you are on a schedule.
We arrived at “La Tuque” early afternoon just in time for a quick bite at a local burger joint before heading back to our trailer. Once back at our trailer, we packed up but our trip wasn’t finished just yet. It was Thursday and it so happens that every Thursday the city of “La Tuque” has an outdoor happening they call “Jeudis centre-ville”, loosely translated “Downtown Thursday’s”. Basically they shutdown the downtown core of the city and each week a different band perform, so we had to check it out!
We stayed at a hotel situated downtown called “Auberge des lits” that was at walking distance from the event. It is an impressive place with impeccably clean modern rooms with a good deli style restaurant within the hotel. After making ourselves presentable, we went out for a relaxing supper and then took part in the festivities. The theme of the event for that week was country, so 2 bands were on the venue and they put on one heck of a show. Looking around it seemed that the whole city of “La Tuque” came out to participate in the outdoor concert and weather you liked country music or not, everyone seemed to manifest into a hardcore fanatic! A great way to end this off-roading adventure!
We would like to take a moment and show our appreciation to Haute-Mauricie Tourism for planning our incredible itinerary, and our guide Réjean Riendeau for showing us the way. Below you will find a reference guide to the places we stayed during our trip. If the places we described sound like the type of accommodations you would like to visit during one of your trips, please use the links below to get additional information.
|Motel de la Rivière:||www.moteldelarivierelatuque.com|
|Hotel Auberge des lits:||www.latuquedeli.net|