From Montréal to Hawkesbury, both sides are equally interesting. I have a slight preference for riding through Hudson, Rigaud.
Time permitting, ride from Montréal to Hudson, then take the Hudson-Oka ferry and ride along highway 344 to Grenville.
From Hawkesbury to Ottawa, if time is not limited, ride via the local regional roads (L’Orignal, Lefaivre...).
If time is more limited, stay in Québec and ride via Gatineau.
It seems I specialize in rides where there are two alternatives. So again, should you ride south or north of the Ottawa river? Or both? Both are indeed possible and offer a different outlook. It is possible to use the bridge between Hawkesbury and Grenville or various ferries along the way to switch from one shore to the other. Here are the highlights :
– It is much nicer to leave downtown Montréal via the borough of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, L’Île-Perrot and Vaudreuil-Dorion (i.e. towards Hawkesbury), then it is to do so via Laval and Saint-Eustache (towards Grenville).
– The first few kilometres in Eastern Ontario, between Pointe-Fortune and Chute-à-Blondeau are on the service road of highway 417, which is noisy and made of a mixture of gravel and tar.
– Between Vaudreuil-Dorion and Hawkesbury, riding through Hudson and Rigaud is generally very scenic. It is also possible to ride inland on very nice country roads, which I don’t find as attractive, but are none the less quite interesting.
– Between Grenville and the borough of Masson (eastern part of Gatineau), highway 148 is the only highway in Québec and is therefore very busy ; it has paved shoulders on about 60% of its length. In Ontario, there are the 417, highway 17 (busy) and the older incarnations of highway 17 (very quiet)... and no paved shoulders.
– In Québec, the ride through Gatineau is rather boring. But the directions are so easy there is little need for a map!
– In Ontario, riding from Rockland to Ottawa is hectic at first, but then one may use the very scenic parkway... if you find it!
From downtown Montréal, start at the Old Port (southern end of Saint-Laurent Boulevard), and proceed towards the Western tip of the island. There are other possibilities – especially if you don’t start from downtown –, including riding along Gouin Boulevard on the Northern shore of Montréal.
– From the Old Port, go west on the cycling path alongside the Lachine Canal. Ride all the way until you reach its western tip in the borough of Lachine (15 km). More information at this website.
At the western end of the Canal, the René-Lévesque park and the park along the shore of the river offer nice picnic facilities.
– In the borough of Lachine, you may either ride on the cycling path on the shore of the river, or on Saint-Joseph street (5 km).
Between the end of the canal and the Dairy Queen, there is a short stretch where the path has a few sections on a glorified sidewalk (not great for bike trailers), West of there, it’s OK.
I generally prefer the trail because it’s more scenic and there are no stop signs. However, on a busy weekend afternoon, the road has a bit less traffic.
– At the Western end of the borough of Lachine, the trail ends on Saint-Joseph street.
– Turn left (go West).
Ride on the street that goes along the shore of the St. Lawrence River. Distance from the western end of Lachine to the tip of the island of Montréal is about 20 km. The street name changes to :
rue Saint-Joseph in the borough of Lachine;
chemin Bord-du-Lac-Lakeshore in the borough of Dorval;
chemin Lakeshore in the borough of Pointe-Claire;
boulevard Beaconsfield in the borough of Beaconsfield
(and there is a nice path on the remnants of Lakeshore road, while you ride in that borough ; look towards the river to find it -- easy to find, not longer and quieter than boul. Beaconsfield);
chemin Lakeshore in the neighbourhood of Baie-d’Urfé;
rue Sainte-Anne in the neighbourhood of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue.
– Ride on Sainte-Anne street until you reach the bridges. You will see successively : a car bridge (autoroute 20), then 2 train bridges.
On your left lies the Sainte-Anne lock (nice picnic site).
On your right will be the bridge access.
From the neighbourhood of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue (west-end Montréal), cross the bike-trail bridge that links Montréal to L’Île-Perrot.
– Stand on Sainte-Anne street near the lock, between the car bridge and the train bridge. Look away from the lock, and you will find the bike access to the bridge-trail. The access point is hidden between the car bridge and the first train bridge.
– Use the bridge-trail to cross the first arm of the Ottawa River (tail end of the Lac des Deux-Montagnes.
Once you cross that bridge, you will be on L’Île-Perrot.
It is legally possible to continue on highway 20 until Vaudreuil-Dorion, but for only 2 more kilometres, I rather suggest :
– Turn right to use Grand Boulevard....
– At the western end of the island, cross the highway 20 brige to access Vaudreuil-Dorion. Last year, there was a segregated bi-directional bike trail on the Southern side of that bridge (accessible via the southern side service road), but I believe there now should be one on the North side too.
– In Vaudreuil-Dorion, at a traffic light located 1 km away West of the bridge, turn right onto highway 340, and follow the first few signs for highway 340.
– Eventually, highway 340 turns inland. Continue on same street (rue Saint-Charles) which travels along the shore of the Lac des Deux-Montagnes. It is a scenic road at first, but becomes a boring suburban expanse as you approach highway 40.
– Continue on that street until it passes above highway 40 (overpass), then ride an extra 2-3 km. At one point, the road curves to the left and there is (in the turn) a street on your right.
– Turn right on "chemin de l’Anse". Shortly after, it bends to the left and follows the shoreline of the Lac des Deux-Montagnes. Most of that street, however, will be through a semi-rural environment. The road has no shoulders, but it’s zoned at 30-40 km/h all along.
Nice picnic places all along that road, especially on church grounds or near the Hudson–Oka ferry landing. Stores and restaurants available in Vaudreuil-Dorion, Hudson and Rigaud.
– The Chemin de l’Anse joins highway 342 a few kilometres East of Rigaud. Continue straight ahead Westbound, through Rigaud, and for about 10 km.
– You will cross Montée Wilson, then will see a road towards Pointe-Fortune. Bear right onto "Chemin Pointe-Fortune".
– Ride into the village (no services, but a ferry to Carillon), look at the dam, and come back onto "Chemin Interprovincial". Depending on which side of the road you are, you will be riding either in Québec or in Ontario.
– Continue until you cross over highway 40 – 417, and cross that overpass.
– Turn right on the service road which is located on the southern side of highway 417. The surface is a mixture of gravel and tar which feels like rough asphalt.
Ride on it for 6 km, until the first Ontario exit of highway 417.
– Turn right and hop over highway 417. Follow that highway (Regional Road 4), which is essentially the older highway 17.
– Continue through the territory of Chute-à-Blondeau Provincial Park and into Hawkesbury. Regional Road 4 becomes main street.
The bridge to Grenville is easily accessible from main street. Follow signs.
The quick way is to exit Hawkesbury via highway 34 South and use highway 17 West until you reach Rockland. But it is possible to use local roads that are so local... you would think you are lost! The downside is that there are few services between Hawkesbury and Rockland.
– Main street becomes Regional Road 24 once it exists West.
– Follow Regional Road 24 to L’Orignal (no services), where you will loose almost all traffic.
Continue on Regional Road 24 through L’Orignal, Lefaivre... until it turns at 90 degrees onto Regional Road 9.
– Ride on Regional Road 9 to Plantagenet.
– Ride on Regional Roads 17 / 174 to Wendover, Rockland and Cumberland.
In those towns, there are nice old roads parallel to highway 17.
– In Cumberland, Regional Road 17 becomes a freeway. Use Regional Road 34 through the borough of Orléans, where it is called Saint-Joseph Street.
– From there, it is possible to continue all the way into downtown Ottawa... or to turn right on Rockliffe Parkway and continue on Sussex Drive, which is, let’s say, a very nice neighbourhood.
The Prescott-Russell Recreational Trail uses the former CP-Rail track bed from Rigaud (Québec) to Hawkesbury to Ottawa.
According to the above website, it is open from Vankleek Hill to Ottawa, and the section from the Ontario border to Vankleek Hill "is expected to be open in 2004". Although the website doesn’t have a map yet, instructions are clear enough to find the trail. I have not cycled on it, however.
There are many ways to exit Montréal via the North-Western end. I present the quickest – albeit nice – exit. The same may be said about Laval crossings.
– From downtown Montréal, ride Saint-Laurent boulevard North all the way, until you reach Gouin boulevard (traffic light).
Although Gouin Blvd. is the last intersection, there is a short dead-end section of Saint-Laurent North of Gouin.
Riding along the Main (the local nickname) is definitely an urban ride. In the most crowded sectors (Viger to des Pins St., and Beaubien to Jean-Talon St.), traffic is very slow and you may have to wave around double-parked cars and the like. You will see a variety of shops all along the way, and most of the boulevard has a wide outside lane.
• As you ride, you won’t be too far off the mountain. To access it, turn West (uphill) on Rachel Street, use the path through the park to access the Georges-Étienne-Cartier monument (drum festival on Sundays) and the Olmstead gravel trail to the top of the mountain (nice vistas). Ride down on chemin Camilien-Houde to see yet another belvedere with another viewpoint.
– Turn left (westbound) on Gouin boulevard.
There is a pseudo-bike path (widened converted sidewalk, complete with hydro poles and the like) for the first 1-2 km that are in a vcry nice residential area. I definitely recommend the street. Once the "bike trail" turns right on a little side street, follow it, because the trail becomes a nice multi-use trail along the Rivière des Prairies. (if you miss the trail, don’t worry: simply continue on Gouin Blvd.
Just East of the railway crossing (i.e. before crossing it), Perry Island offers a nice picnic ground.
– Just West of the railway crossing (i.e. just after crossing it), turn right (North) along the railway and cross the bridge.
The sidewalk/trail beside the railway bridge is rather narrow, but I have crossed it quite a few times with a 2-children trailer and there are millimetres to spare.
Other possible crossings are via Pont Viau (the bridge North of Saint-Denis Street) and Pont Lachapelle (the bridge north of Laurentien Blvd on highway 117).
There are two recommended routes: crossing the island North via the bike path that is alongside the railway track, or travelling west around the island. I will present the latter, as it has some touristic value.
– Immediately off the bridge, turn left (West) on Boulevard des Prairies (i.e. don't cross the track).
The intersection with Chomedey Blvd is a busy one, but apart from that, the ride should be fairly nice, except maybe at rush hour.
– Continue on Boulevard des Prairies until it joins Boulevard Samson.
Boul. Samson is the "necessary evil": a wide suburban boulevard. Not horribly busy, but no nice scenery either. Continue on Samson boulevard until you cross over Autoroute 13.
The Boul. Lévesque - chemin du Bord-de-l’eau has no overpass over Autoroute 13.
– Turn left at the first traffic light West (i.e. after) Autoroute 13, and turn right on the street immediately after (chemin du Bord-de-l’eau).
– Ride on the chemin du Bord-de-l’eau (which is quite rural) until it meets again with Boulevard Samson.
(Note : It is actually slightly shorter and nicer to ride this way than to continue on boulevard Samson all the way.)
– Turn left at that intersection. The street on your right is boulevard Samson, but on your left, it is... chemin du Bord-de-l’eau.
– Continue on chemin du Bord-de-l’eau until it passes under a railway track and a nice arch welcoming you to the neibourhood of Laval-sur-le-Lac.
– Possible shortcut:
Look for rue des Plaines on your right, just after the ferry to L’Île-Bizard.
Turn right (North) onto rue des Peupliers.
At its northern end, turn right and cross the railway track.
– Longer route (with nice vistas and very nice homes to see):
Continue to ride all the way West onto the chemin du Bord-de-l’eau.
Eventually, the roadway will veer North and East and will be called rue des Érables and/or boulevard Sainte-Rose.
Continue until you cross the railway track, and cross it.
– Turn left and cross the rivière des Mille-Îles via the bicycle bridge atop the dam which is just on the East side of the railway bridge.
That bridge is easily visible from the street.
– Once you have crossed the bridge, you are on 8th Avenue in Deux-Montagnes
– Ride onto the 8th Avenue (North) until you reach the chemin d’Oka (also known as highway 344).
– Turn left (west) on highway 344. (The highway goes under the railroad shortly thereafter).
It is possible to remain on highway 344 all the way until it reaches Grenville, some 30-40 km West. Highway 344 alternates between modern sections and some which still follow design standards of the 1930s. Some sections have lots of local traffic, but there is little through traffic.
– For a nicer ride (about same length as highway 344, but less rolling):
• Ride for approximately 5 km Westbound on chemin d’Oka (route 344).
• There is a traffic light at the intersection of chemin d’Oka, boulevard des Promenades (on your right) and rue Louise (oblique on your left). There is also a bike trail that crosses highway 344 in an oblique fashion and an ice cream parlour on your left (South West corner).
• Follow the bike trail in the forest and all the way through the Parc d’Oka... and into the village of Oka.
• The bike trail will dump you near the junction of chemin d’Oka (highway 344) and the ferry to Hudson.
• Continue West on highway 344 until Grenville.
Highway 344 turns right (North) to reach highway 148. I recommend instead that you continue West along the river to go through the village. That road also meets highway 148 further away.
If you have come from Hawkesbury, turn left on the Québec side of the bridge to access that old route.
– Use highway 148 all the way from Grenville to Gatineau.
Highway 148 is quite busy from Lachute to Grenville to Masson, because autoroute 50 is yet unfinished. However, scenery is very nice all the way and about 2/3rd have paved shoulders. In a nutshell, I would say:
• If you don’t like traffic, the Ontario side via regional roads 24, 9, etc. (i.e. the coastline) is the best. It is also nicer option.
• The Québec side via highway 148 is the second best and quite shorter than the option above. It becomes boring West of Masson, but there are local options (see later).
• The Ontario side via regional highway 17-34 (i.e. old Transcanada) is about as fast as highway 148, but is by far the less scenic option. Besides, it has gravel shoulders.
– First alternative in Gatineau:
In the Far East end of Gatineau, just West of the first industrial sector (boulevard Industriel), you will see the Parc MacLaren on your left (southern side).
You will also see a traffic light at the intersection of avenue du Cheval-Blanc (on your right – North) and rue Notre-Dame (on your left – South).
• Turn left on rue Notre-Dame. Continue on Notre-Dame for about 2 km until it comes back onto boulevard Maloney (just East of a big paper mill). Turn left onto boulevard Maloney.
– Second alternative in Gatineau:
In the est of Gatineau, just West of the paper mill, turn left on montée Paiement (toward the river).
• Once you reach the river, bear right onto rue Jacques-Cartier, which goes around the Pointe-de-la-Gatineau (gorgeous park). The street then becomes rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste.
• Turn left highway 148 West (to cross the bridge).
• West of that bridge, watch for debris on the shoulders. However, there are very nice bike/multiuse trails to ride on, including one on the South (left) side of the road that goes directly to the downtown Gatineau area (i.e. former city of Hull).
– Third alternative in downtown Gatineau:
Highway 148 continues onto boulevard de Maisonneuve. However, nicer options include:
• Turn left (East) to use rue Laurier, which is the closest street to the Ottawa river.
• The street continues West onto boulevard Alexandre-Taché, then onto chemin d'Aylmer... a nice road to take if you want to continue in Québec until Chapeau, L’Île-aux-allumettes... and Pembrooke.
• For a tourist the Interprovincial bridge is a nice one as it brings you close to the Parliament in the Nation’s Capital (for Americans, that’s Ottawa, not Washington).
© 2004 — Updated on: 2010-08-15
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