An Eleven-Day trip in Quebec in 2023                                            

Itinéraire du voyage. Trip itinerary

Eleven days of riding a snowmobile in a row; exciting, daunting, or just right? For some snowmobilers, this would be the trip of a lifetime. For others, way too much for a single excursion.

Eleven days is a long time to live out of saddle bags; it takes some planning. To those eleven days of riding, add two truck-and-trailer days and now we are nearly at two weeks. Riding for such a long period brings many weather and trail conditions, as well as some other challenges.

A Very Big Continuous Circle

We departed Pointe-a-la-Croix, in Gaspésie, on February 14, 2023. We began early on FCMQ Trail #5 West. On the eleventh morning, February 25th, we circled back around noon to our trucks and trailers from Trail #5 East.

3613 Kilometres Covered

We covered a total of 3613 km of trails over 10.5 days of riding. Our average for the 11 days on the snow was 344 km per day. Our longest day ride was in Western Quebec at 483 km. Our shortest full day was 259 km. Like all rides, the daily distance is not very important; it is the quality of the trails when covering those distances that matter most.

Most mornings, we left by 7 a.m. Every day, except once, we were at our destination before 5 p.m. We rode in daylight hours for almost the entire trip. Our collective experience has taught us that no matter how fast or slow a particular trail may be, you will average 50 km/h (30 mph).

Our early departures allow for rest stops as well as breakfasts or lunches at many of Quebec’s relays and local snowmobile clubhouses. We stopped every day we could to honour the trail businesses. We believe in supporting these businesses and the volunteers who operate them so that they are open every season when we return.

Experienced Riding Friends

We believe an ideal group is four compatible riders. There were three of us in 2023 and we all love the Quebec experience. It is our belief that for saddle bagging and on-trail driving, Quebec offers the most consistent and best quality of trails.

My companions, Steve and Andy, are both very experienced and capable snowmobilers. Both can lead a group or fall in line. Their experience of riding trails in Quebec covers many decades and I estimate they have individually ridden 30,000 to 40,000 plus kilometres of FCMQ trails over these years.

My first personal ride in Quebec was in 1988. I have ridden almost every season in Quebec since. The annual event has become a trip that usually includes Steven, Andy, and myself. Some years, other friends from Nova Scotia or New Brunswick would join also.

East—West—North—South

We covered many destinations in Quebec. Our most eastern destination was Murdochville, Gaspésie. Westward, the furthest we went was Senneterre, Abitibi-Témiscamingue. To the North, every snowmobile adept should ride to Chibougamau, Nord-du-Québec, at least once; but be forewarned and prepared for potentially -40 Cº weather. And finally, our most southern trail was in the Chaudière-Appalaches region, south of Lévis.

Challenges—No Fuel Stop

The FCMQ #93 East trail, from Chibougamau, to La Doré, in Saguenay–Lac-St-Jean, is a 245-kilometre one-way ride. There are no fuel stops. We knew this before we departed, so we all carried extra fuel for this specific leg of the journey.

The morning we departed from Chibougamau, it had snowed approximately 10 cm (4 inches) overnight. Instantly, we knew this would “chew up” our fuel range, so we rode at speeds between 70 km/h and 80 km/h to conserve fuel. We all took turns leading.

This was the only stretch of the entire 3613 km trip in which some of us needed extra fuel. Riding big and longer loops in Quebec is generally very easy. With planning, no one should need to carry fuel.

The Regions of Quebec

We covered nine regions on this trip. Quebec has 17 administrative Regions in total, and these include the City of Quebec, Montréal, and Laval, the largest cities. If you live in Quebec, you are very familiar with how the province is separated into regions for many aspects of life. As tourists, you quickly realize how much of the marketing is focused on visiting these various regions. It is sometimes hard to choose where to ride with so many choices. There are so many trails in Quebec, one could spend 11 days in a lot fewer regions—a smaller loop—if desired. Each region has its uniqueness.

The FCMQ trail signage is generally consistent everywhere. So is the trail grooming, mostly prepared at nighttime when it should be. Observable differences in each region come from the duration of their seasons and the amount of snow they receive. Elevation dictates snowfalls so some regions are blessed, while others struggle to keep trails into March. Our 2023 loop reflects Regions that have no trouble attracting Mother Natures best winters.

Highlights— A New Place to Overnight

Over 3613 km, we had familiar stops. We also visited a few new services, but one of those new stops was the real surprise of the trip. It was near the end of our journey. We had hoped to stay in Mont-Saint-Pierre, Gaspésie. For transparency, this is my favourite snowmobile community in all of Quebec. On this trip, we had to snowmobile slightly further east to Saint-Maxime-du-Mont-Louis.

Our newfound accommodations, the level of their hospitality, and the restaurant were all top-notch. Like most of Quebec’s snowmobile destinations, they know how to make you feel welcome—as if you were an old friend. We will be back.

Conclusions

Quebec offers the most consistency in its trail grooming and trail signage placement of any province or state I have ever ridden in. The FCMQ iMotoneige trail app is one of the best tools for planning and riding anywhere. The Quebec hype is a reality.

Eleven continuous days of riding is not for everyone. And that is okay. Make your own trip, at your own pace, and ride the number of kilometres you enjoy with compatible riding friends. For me, the Quebecois hospitality, the snowmobile culture, and the quality of the FCMQ trails created by their volunteers make it the best trail-riding, saddle-bagging snowmobile destination in all of North America. You will not need 11 days to figure that out.

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