TCAT - The Forest Continued

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 (NOTE: The ferry does not run on Sundays and you must call them a couple of days ahead of time to ensure the ferry will be there to pick you up).  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. It is advised that you call ahead and inform the ferry oporator that you are coming.  The folks that own and operate the nearby campground also run the ferry


Above and below: Photos by Sam Punderson
This group of riders encountered 2 day wait for the ferry as the operator was home sick.  Even the best laid out schedule needs to be flexible when travelling in remote areas


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

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.  .

Interesting trails and bridges along the route


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

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 (320 km between fuel stops, be prepared....I recommend plannning for more fuel in case of a washout or some other cause of the route becoming non doable.  This is a very remote section of the TCAT) before you enter a long and remote section of the route to of Chibougmau.


The road to Chibougamau.  Photo by Bruno Gauthier

The town of Chibougamau has a population of 7500.  Most modern amenities (hotels, hospital, fuel, grocery stores, auto shops, etc) can be found.  English is not the primary language here so if you don’t speak French you’ll get to practice your charades again.  In fact 97% of the town speak French as their first language.  Chibougamau is the largest town in the area and acts as a hub for the mining and lumber industries.

LINK to town of Chibougamau website


Leaving Chibougamau to the west you’ll quickly turn south onto a series of logging roads.  This area is well known for outdoor recreation and fishing and hunting camps are quite common. Two thirds of the way to a very small town called Parent you have the opportunity to get fuel.  This mom and pop setup has a restaurant and makes for a nice location to get something warm to eat or cold to drink.

gas on routel

The roads consist of sandy gravel and are large and open for the most part.  Be careful of commercial traffic as the logging trucks “own” these roads.  Most parties will take about 3-5 hours to get to Parent from Chibougamau.  At times the scenery can be quite nice as you crest rises and the view opens up for as far as the eye can see.

north of parent

Parent is a small town with a gas station and a restaurant.  With a population of fewer than 250 the town only exists to serve the nearby lodges, the snowmobile industry in the winter months and canoe trippers who paddle the popular Bazin River.  Oh and for TCAT travellers of course :)


After leaving the town of Parent you will travel about a 3 hour section of double track trails.  A few sections can get a bit rocky and technical so people on larger bikes may need additional time to get down these trails.  One stretch of trail in particularily scenic as it follows along side a river.  Approximately midway down these trails you will come upon a ferry across the river.  This is a hand drawn ferry (requires you to pull on a cable to manually get the ferry across the river).  Approximately 3 bikes will fit at a time on the ferry.

eric bouvrette
Photo above and below by Eric Bouvrette
eric bouvrette 2

Below 3 photos by Eric Marinho.  Crossing the handdrawn ferry after dark




hand drawn ferry quebec
Photo above and video below by BMW of Manhattan


Heading west on the Chemin Du Parent (Chemin being the French word for road) you’ll arrive in the small city of Mont Laurier after travelling 220 kilometres.  The first two thirds are a wide open gravel road before turning into pavement for the remaining section.

Mont Laurier is a booming place in comparison to the towns you’ll have been in for the last week or so.  All modern amenities are available.  A dozen or more motels, garages and so on.  With a population of over 13, 000 Mont Laurier makes a likely location for travellers to stop and have a rest.

LINK to Mont Laurier website, hotel, campground, etc information


Leaving Mont Laurier you have a short day’s ride into the city of Ottawa.  Along the way the route travels through a provincial wildlife reserve called Papineau Labelle.  Pap Lab as the locals call it has over 760 lakes and its “mountains” reach 1600 feet in height.  Originally this area was built (roads) by the logging industry.  Currently logging still takes place but not on a large scale, outdoor recreation is the primary use.  The roads remain consistent with the ones you have been travelling on, sandy gravel roads.

LINK to Papineau Labelle Government site



There is a short optional tech section that consists of some fun trails.  There is a few ascents/descents that consist of loose rock and in several places the trails have washed away.  Be very careful of the washouts as some are as deep as 10 feet.  At time of writing (2012) one washout is completely across the trail, locals have built a narrow 1 foot wide bridge that needs to be crossed.

After leaving Pap Lab park you quickly come to the town of Masson.  From here you get on a short ferry ride across the Ottawa River.  The ferry costs $8 and takes about 5 minutes to cross the river.  It can accommodate 15 vehicles and during peak season there are two ferries running at a time.  As you step off of the ferry you enter the province of Ontario.



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