Section Two - Baie Comeau to Chibougamau

This chapter of the True North East route could best be described as remote.  The route begins in the town of Baie Comeau.  This town has a population of approximately 26, 000 and has been around since 1889.  A few years later the first saw mill arrived and the town has been functioning as a resource town ever since.  Located on the shores of the ST Lawrence River and at the mouth of the Manicouagan River, the town is not without its charm.  This is the last place to gear up for a few days of the route and the town offers typical modern amenities for a town of its size.

 

 

The route leaving Baie Comeau follows gravel roads for 380 kilometres before you’ll find the next location for fuel.  Needless to say you must stock up on fuel prior to leaving this town.  This chapter of the TNE is also used for the Trans Canada Adventure Trail (TCAT) and was created by Fabric Tremblay.  Fab is local to the area and without his local knowledge it would have been very difficult to have created this chapter of the route, Thanks!


55
Photo by Fabrice Tremblay

The first part of the route is as mentioned 380 kms between gas locations and follows logging roads in a large loop ending in Labrieville.  The conditions of these roads change from year to year based on the amount of industry going on.  At time of writing (summer 2012) the road was quite a few potholes and reduced speeds can be expected.  There is no challenging terrain technically but the remoteness of these roads demands some caution.  It would not be uncommon to have the roads to yourself and to not see any other vehicles.  This adds a level of commitment as you are travelling in some very remote areas and all precautions should be taken prior to setting out.  The roads follow several lakes along the way which offer scenic views.

Prior to setting out on this section of the route some thought should go into where you plan to spend the night.  To make it from Baie Comeau to Auberge31 requires you travelling approximately 570 kilometres.  This would be a very long day and depending on the weather and road conditions may not be achievable.  We highly suggest that you are prepared to spend out a night in the wilds camping.  This will let you enjoy this section of the route and not force you into rushing.


54
Photo by Fabrice Tremblay

53
Photo by Fabrice Tremblay

img_4960
Photo by Fabrice Tremblay

Upon arriving in Labrieville the first thing you will notice is that there is nothing there.  Labrieville is not a town although maps seem to show it as being one.  It’s a hydro plant and consists of a gas pump and a very small general store.  The hours at the store/gas pump are a bit irregular so we encourage you not to show at the end of a day expecting to get fuel.  If you do have to spend some time waiting for the pumps to open your only options are to find somewhere to camp in the surrounding area (primitive camping).


img_4954

img_4955

Labrieville is on the edge of a ZEC and you will be asked to provide information about your vehicle and the route you intend to take.  A small charge is also applicable for a permit.  If you don’t speak French this will give you a great opportunity to practise your charades skills :)

img_4949


img_4962



img_4968




img_4963


After leaving Labrieville you have approximately 200 kilometres of gravel roads to follow to the next fuel location, Auberge31.  This is a beautiful lodge and makes a great place to spend a night.  Fuel is available (Please make note that cash only is the name of the game around these parts, so don’t show up unprepared) from 8 am until 10 pm.  The lodge has a restaurant and several options for lodging.

img_4972


img_4979

img_4977
View from the lodge

img_4976
Auberge31, a recommended place to spend a night

img_4974
Cash only!


The route leaves from the back of the lodge and begins travelling on narrower roads than previously.  Some fun twists and hills bring you to what has been called “Fabs Hill”.  This hill comes in two parts and is notable for the loose rocks on it.  For large bikes this hill may present a challenge as you need to pick a line up it which will crisscross back and forth avoiding the looser sections of rocks.  For smaller bikes and well equipped trucks it may not be a notable feature depending on your skill levels.

After Fab’s hill you come across a ski resort and paved roads (approximately 2 kilometers from Fab’s Hill).  The paved roads bring you down out of the hills and close to the city of Chicoutimmi.  Although Chicoutimi is off the route many folks may wish to detour and have a visit.  With a population of over 200, 000 this city offers most modern amenities.  Bike dealerships and several car dealerships can be found here as well as outfitter shops with clothing and gear.  There are many hotels, restaurants and other items of interest for travellers.  This city has a rich history dating back as far as 1676 when it was a French trading center back in the day of fur trading.  This history of Chicoutimi, along with the beautiful Saguenay River which passes through town, offer many scenic sites and ample opportunities for exploration.

fabs hill
Above and below: Fab's Hill. Photo by Fabrice Tremblay

fabshilltwo
Photo by Fabrice Tremblay

The route continues following a mix of wide and narrow gravel roads.  The surfaces are similar to the section you would have just completed, sandy and typically well groomed. 

rd to lac tchitogamma ferry
Photo by: Fabrice Tremblay 

Most folks will take 2 days to reach Chibougamau from here so plan accordingly.  After leaving the ski resort you come into the town of Saint-David de Falardeau.  This town is about 40 kilometres from Chicoutimi and has a population of 2800.  Fuel and food can be found here.  Gravel roads bring you to Lamothe Resorvoir.  Approximately 5 minutes off the route is a cave that was built to deviate water from the Lamothe Reservoir.  This is certainly worth a stop to see.

34
The damn on Réservoir Lamothe, the cave is on the left around the corner.  Photo by Fabrice Tremblay


rd to lac tchitogamma
Looking across Lake Tchitogama. Photo by : Fabrice Tremblay
 

cave

cave2
Photos above by Fabrice Tremblay

lac tchitogamma
The campground at Camping Tchitogama, photo by Fabrice Tremblay

fab2
A variety of roads offer great scenery and fun terrain. 
Photos (above and below) by Fabrice Tremblay

fab
The roads vary from wide and smooth to less used ones like this, photo by Fabrice Tremblay

A ZEC is utilized for this portion of the route and has associated fees and check in/check out procedures.  The Zec de la Boiteuse offers amazing scenery; the route follows the scenic Peribonka River.  Shortly after this scenic riverside road you come to Lac Tchitogama.  This lake is really a large bay in the river.  There is a campsite here called Camping Tchitogama which operates a ferry you will need to take.  This is a small ferry that can accommodate a couple of vehicles.  The cost is approximately 20 dollars (cash only) and does not run at all hours of the day.  The barge crosses Lake Tchitogama.  The ferry leaves you in the small town of Lamarche.  This small town has a population of approximately 580 and offers fuel and food.

28
The road between Réservoir Lamothe and the Zec de la Boiteuse.  Photo by Fabrice Tremblay



46
Just north of Girardville.  Some of the roads have a sandy composition.  Photo by Fabrice Tremblay


Logging roads are utilized which take you through the small town of Saint-Ludger de Millot and then to Dolbeau.  This town has a population of 15, 000 and offers accommodations, food and fuel.  A quick Google search shows no less than ten hotel/motels in town.  Nestled along the banks of a confluence of rivers and is not without its charm.  Of note is the blueberry festival that takes place every August (3rd-7th).  I mentioned this as you can see the picture below of a bike riding on the route through blueberry fields.  English is seldom spoken here so this is another prime opportunity for you to practise your charades skills.

47
Between Dolbeau and Girardville, the route travel through blueberry fields.  Photo by Fabrice Tremblay


dolbeauweb
The town of Dolbeau

After leaving Dolbeau you follow logging roads to Girardville.  A small town of less than 2000 people.  This is your last stop for fuel for some time before you enter a long and remote section of the route to the “town” of Poisson Blanc.  I put quotes on this as there is really nothing here although maps show this as a town.  This is not uncommon the further you get from civilization.  The route then utilizes a paved road (highway 167) for a nice relaxing 150 kilometres which brings you to Chibougmau.

39
The road to Poisson Blanc, great views and a remote setting.  Photo by Fabrice Tremblay

nearpoissonblanc
Just outside of Poisson Blanc, the pavement will come as a welcome relief to many.  Photo by Fabrice Tremblay


NEXT - SECTION THREE of the TNE

.


rree2014logo50percent