Name: The Big Empty

 

Distance: 1134 Kilometers

 

Rating: Class 1 and 2

 

Location: Southwestern Quebec

 

 

The Big Empty is a three day route that travels along gravel backroads into South Western Quebec.  We’ve named this area the big empty as when you look on a map there is almost nothing for hundreds of kilometers in every direction.  A few fishing/hunting camps, a few logging roads and hundreds of lakes make of this area. The big empty is larger than many of the US states and is a real gem of an area to explore, even more so given its proximity to large urban cities like Ottawa and Montreal.

 

This route is a non-technical route; it uses gravel/sandy backroads and paved roads in a couple of areas.  The Big Empty route is a great way to just get out into the backcountry and see a part of the world not many get to see.  There are many options for camping along the way, pristine lakes to fish or swim in as you travel down these dusty and remote roads.  Perfectly suited for larger adv bikes and overland trucks, this route is an easy way to leave civilization behind for a few days.  The route description below assumes you are travelling in a clockwise manner.

 

 

Old wooden bridges along the route

 

Day One

 

The route begins in the town of Quyon, Quebec.  This is a small town with food, lodging and fuel available. The route follows a set of sandy/gravel roads and paved roads for 520 km to the town of Senneterre (Gas, food, camping, etc).  The last 100 kilometers is on paved roads, the first 330 kilometers is on non-paved roads.  In total the route for day one is 520 km’s with an additional hour if coming from Ottawa. The route is for this day is 50% paved and 50% gravel (approximately).

 

The gravel section is a nice scenic route with many twists and turns as the roads meander along rivers and by lakes.

 

 

Day Two

 

This is the shortest day of the route at 280 km’s in length.  The route is entirely on non-paved roads.  If you’ve ever wondered what it is like to be in the middle of nowhere, well this is the place to find out.  The route for day two ends in the small town of Parent.  There is a small motel (Hotel Central, $25 a night), a campground, a gas station and a small restaurant.  There are also several fishing and hunting lodges in the area that offer some nice options for accommodations.  The roads can be quite dusty when dry and are used by local industry (logging).

 

Gas station in Parent, Quebec

 

Day Three

 

 

A morning of 212 km will see you arrive in the town of Mont Laurier.  Half of this is paved and half is gravel.  Mont Laurier is a decent sized town and offers all modern amenities.  The next 180 km is all gravel as the route travels threw a provincial park called Papineau Labelle.  Nice sweeping roads and nice scenery is what this part of route offers.  There are several day use areas along rivers and lakes that make nice spots to stop for a break.  After the route ends there are a few choices of paved roads to get you back to the city of Gatineau/Ottawa.

 

Typical road threw Papineau Labelle

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