Name: The Swisha Loop

Distance: 800+ kilometers

Duration: 2 long days for intermediate to advanced riders

Rating: Primarily class 2 and 3 with a couple of short class 4's or 5's depending on conditions

Accomodations: Camping and lodges

Creator: Trail Tech Adv

Location: Southwestern Quebec


The Swisha Loop covers just over 800 kilometres of terrain through the south western portion of the province of Quebec.  The route will take you through the regions of Outaouais, Pontiac and Rapides des Joachims.


The route was designed by locals living in the area (TrailTek Adv).  The route is 90% non paved and the terrain varies from wide open class 2 roads to fun and challenging class 4.  Depending on water levels the class 4 may become class 5 and is recommend for advanced riders during periods of high rainfall or seasonal snow melt.  The route utilizes forestry roads and crosses three ZEC areas.  Prepare to pay a fee between 8 to 10 dollars per ZEC you encounter.  The fee can be payed at the “poste d’enregistrement” or registration office located at the entry to these ZEC’s.  The surface of many of the roads in the route are sand covered and offer some fun terrain, from fast hard packed roads to tight technical rocky trails the Swisha Loop has a wide variety of terrain.


Small bridge out (2017).  Photo by Guillaume Mauffette




The route begins in the town of Cantley which is 30 minutes from the cities of Ottawa, Hull and Gatineau.  For most folks a long day of approximately 12 hours will bring them to half way point at Rapides des Joachims.  This section of the route is 500-+ km’s.  This section begins on twisty pavement roads through the Outaouais region.  This provides a nice easy way to start your trip before you enter the back country roads of the Pontiac and Rapides des Joachims regions.  These forestry roads are primarily consist of a sandy surface and offer some fun, fast riding.  The navigation is fun as there are several forestry roads in this area and you’ll be consulting your gps often.


The half way point for most people will be the town of Rapids Des Joachims.  Located on the banks of the Ottawa River this town began as a mission post located at the base of a long stretch of rapids.  In 1871 a steam boat had begun to navigate the 18 miles stretch of water up to the town of Roch Capitaine.  Churchs were built in town in 1886 and eventually the town incorporated in 1955.  The town goes by the nickname of “Swisha”, this nickname goes back as far as 1970 as it is shown on some maps.  Today the town is host to a lumber mill and runs a waterway bypass that lets boats get around the hydrodam to connect the stretch of river from Pembroke to Mattawa.  The area is quite popular with hunters and fishermen as both fish and animals can be found in abundance in the nearby ZEc of Dumoine.


The second section of the route begins in the town of Swisha.  Technical roads and trail bring you to the town of Fort Colounge.  This second part of the route offers more technical terrain that the previous day.  Use caution of the trails and roads as you will be sharing them with ATV’s, fishermen, hunters and logging companies.  Some of the trails are quite narrow and seasonal challenges may be encountered.  Fallen trees, wash outs and exposed culverts can be present.  Depending on water levels a couple of water crossing can be expected as well.  This second section of the Swisha Loop is approximately 300 kilometres in length and will take most folks up to ten hours to complete.


The Swisha Loop is a gem and really gets you out into the backcountry fast considering you are starting just outside of a major urban center.  The scenery is fantastic and the fall colors can really light up the maple trees in the area.   We don’t think that experienced riders will be disappointed with this route.  The GPX files have waypoints for fuel, lodging and a few spots to be careful.  There is also a couple of spots where you can choose from two options, they are labelled as easy/hard.

Accident on the Swisha Loop, traveling in remote areas requires extra caution.  Photo above and below by Guillaume Mauffette


Pavillon la Verendrye Lodge, gas and lodging available


Swisha Loop Slideshow

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