Section One - USA Border to Matane
This chapter could best be called “Welcome to Canada” as the TNE route begins at the border between Canada and the USA. A mix of gravel and paved roads, this section of the TNE will take travellers across the province of New Brunswick and into Quebec.
The track file begins in the town of XXXX on the border between Maine and New Brunswick (NB). A series of gravel roads with pavement connectors bring you through small town NB. It’s hard not to notice that many towns have odd sounding names. Many have names that are aboriginal based. This area consists of three primary first nations tribes; Mi'kmaq, Passamaquoddy and Maliseet.
Approximately 3-4 hours into the route, along the banks of the XXXX River you’ll come across a Provincial campground (Government run) called the Mactaquac Provincial Park. Nice and clean this campground makes a convenient place to spend a night prior to continuing the route. Reservations can be made at http://www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca/product.aspx?pid=2078
Photo by: Sean Kelly
The route leaves the campground and follows primarily gravel roads to the town of Boiestown. This portion is about a 1-3 hour ride/drive and utilizes logging roads. Wildlife is abundant in the area and you quickly begin to leave the traffic and congestion of the small towns behind.
Boiestown consists of two gas stations and a cluster of dwellings. This is a vitally important location to get fuel as it is the only gas station in the area and the only source for fuel on the route for approximately 190 km’s. The Miramachi River is just outside of town and is famously known as the premier Atlantic Salmon river in North America. Info and guided fishing trips can be found here www.miramichiriver.ca Leaving Boiestown the route meanders through a couple of small villages before once again getting onto a series of logging roads. After 50 km’s the route utilizes highway 108 for a short distance before once again heading north on a series of logging roads.
Photo by: Sean Kelly
Washout being repaired on the route
The route consists primarily of large easy to navigate gravel roads. The further north you go the larger the hills become and a few, nice scenic locations are travelled with great views of the surrounding area. Along the route there is a lake on your left (east) called Serpentine Lake. There is a nice informal location to camp on the NW point of the lake where the river spills into it.
Photo by: Sean Kelly
After Serpentine Lake the roads begin to get narrower and eventually end of utilizing a snowmobile trail. A couple of funky bridges need to be crossed and depending on the season a short water crossing needs to be crossed. We recommend you walk the water crossing as a precaution to gauge its depth and the surface underneath. After this 5 km stretch the route once again uses larger logging roads.
Approximately 3 km’s off the route (after the 5km stretch you turn left instead of following the route straight, a waypoint has been provided) you can visit the Serpentine Lodge. Cabins are offered as well as fuel, food and a bar. Many folks will use Serpentine Lodge as a stop over as the owner is friendly, the views are great from the patio and a cold beer and warm food is often enjoyed. The fuel is usually high octane fuel but comes at a price because of the distance to get it there. The owner of the lodge is Alyre Marquis and can be reached by phone at 506-473-0397. From the lodge you get a great view of the Christmas Mountain range. The individual mountains are named after the famous reindeer (Rudolph, etc).
The route after the lodge consists of a mix of gravel and paved roads which bring you past the gates to Mt Carleton Park. This mountain has the highest elevation in the province and has a nice hiking trail to the top. The views on a good day are well worth the hike. A couple of hours on pavement through some small towns bring you to the town of Campbellton. With a population of around 8000 people this town has most modern amenities available. The bridge leaving Campbellton brings you into the province of Quebec, the rest of the TNE is in the province of Quebec.
Photo by: Sean Kelly
Park staff feeding the wildlife....?
Crossing the Restigouche River you enter the province of Quebec. Immediately you’ll notice that the road signs and local dialect has switched to French (New Brunswick is very bilingual but in Quebec, English is the official second language albeit most people speak it it is not as widely used as in the rest of the country). The route consists of paved roads for 300 kilometers and is a nice scenic drive. The first part follows the Restigouche river and is a nice coastal road albeit a bit busy with tourists. Turning left onto highway 299 you cross the Gaspe Bay Peninsula, this is a great scenic drive with some amazing mountain views. The road is nice and twisty with plenty of hills. The later part of this highway passes through the Chic Choc mountains which in a roundabout way are a continuous of the Appalachian Mountains.
The higher peaks have an elevation of over 4000 feet and are in the Parc National De La Gaspesie (provincial park). There are many scenic viewpoints and plenty of hiking trails if you wish to go and explore the hills. Many folks may wish to get off the beaten path while they are in the Gaspe, there are plenty of adventures to be had as the central part of the peninsula has an abundance of logging roads. We suggest a side trip up Route Du Lac St Anne. It’s a 50 kilometre long gravel road that follows the perimeter of the park to a town called Murdochville (gas available).
There are several obvious side roads that branch off the east side of this road that offer many miles of exploring and ample locations to informally camp.
After driving through the park the road descends down to the St Lawrence River to a small town called Sainte-Anne-des-Monts. A further 87 kilometres down highway 132 brings you to the town of Matane. This is a nice paved coastal road with great views of the river. Several small towns dot the landscape along with many windmills that utilize the offshore breezes to generate electricity.
When you get to Matane it is easy to follow the signs to the ferry. The ferry run once or twice a day based on the season. Information can be found here http://www.traversiers.gouv.qc.ca/ferries/matanebaie-comeaugodbout_19.php
The ferry will take you across the St Lawrence River to the town of Baie Comeau. The ferry is approximately two hours and twenty minutes in length. If you plan on staying in Baie Comeau we recommend you make a reservation as it is not uncommon for the hotel/motels in town to fill up with workers from the surrounding hydro and lumber industries.