Good swimming beaches, lakeside cliffs to jump from, idyllic pine, cedar and hemlock shaded campsites, abundant wildlife (moose, beaver, great blue herons, barred owls, sandpipers, ravens, black ducks, mergansers, bank swallows and kingfishers) and lots of time to learn or improve upon the skills of canoe camping in a remote wilderness setting. Your guide has a pack full of campfire tales, games, popcorn parties and marshmallow roasts that will cap off the trip as an unforgettable and rewarding family experience.
THE PAPINEAU-LABELLE WILDLIFE RESERVE is located directly north of Montebello, Qc. It is about 200-km northwest of Montreal and about 175-km northeast of Ottawa, Ont. in a remote section of Québec. The northeastern part has all the lakes and a very high deer population. It is the headwaters of the Rivière de la Petite Nation. This wildlife reserve was created in 1971 and is adorned with over 770 lakes. The forest is predominantly tolerant hardwood with beech, birch, and maple as the dominant species, but the shores of the rivers and lakes contain these species mixed with hemlock, spruce, fir, cedar, and white pine. It is an ideal location for 2, 3 or 4-day canoe trips on beautiful lakes where the emphasis could be on a return to nature expedition - spending quality time with your children, friends or family. It also contains the Rivière du Sourd (River of the Deaf), which has some nice short sections of rapids (mostly class II) separated by beautiful stretches of flat water. Native peoples used the portage trails and campsites long before the white man discovered them. Remnants of old fishing and hunting camps are found on most of the larger lakes. There are also some hiking trails to mountaintops with incredible views.
MONT TREMBLANT PARK is located about 130 km north of Montreal off route 117 and is more heavily used than Papineau-Labelle. It is one of the oldest parks in Québec. The Diable Sector has the best canoeing and a very high moose population. It has many lakes but the distance between them is prohibitive to canoe travel. However, the Rivière du Diable (Devil’s River), is a beautiful little stream with some very easy short rapids of class 1 – 2 ideal for learning some white water skills. All the rapids can be run, lined or portaged. The maximum optional portage is 100 m (330 feet). The forest is very similar to Papineau-Labelle but has a larger proportion of spruce and fir. The lakes along the river have some nice beaches. There are also many hiking trails in the park leading to waterfalls and mountaintops with breathtaking views. Reservations are required well in advance.
On all our trips we usually start the day early rising before 8:00 hrs to get on the water before 10:30 hrs. During the day we will stop at the occasional beach for a swim and lunch. We try to finish paddling early (between 15:00 and 16:00 hrs) each day in order to get a decent campsite and this allows plenty of time for relaxing, snoozing, swimming, reading, fishing (you need a license), games, etc. The daily distance seldom exceeds 16 km (10 miles) and can be a lot less if you want. We can design a trip for you, which can be as relaxed, as instructional, or as challenging as you like.
On portages we usually make 2 trips – one with the canoes and one with our packs. When we encounter rapids, you choose (with the help of your guide) whether to run, line, or portage according to your skill levels. Your guide is quite prepared to offer anyone some canoe camping instruction, whether flat water paddling, steering, portaging (canoes and packs) or running rapids. But, you have to ask for it. Everybody helps in setting up tents (we will show you how), gathering firewood and other chores.
Starting places: Lac Monroe for Mont Tremblant Park. Accueil Pie IX or Accueil Gagnon for Papineau-Labelle. Directions will be provided. We can also arrange to pick you up in Montreal, Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, Mont Tremblant or other location and bring
you back at the end of the trip. An additional charge will apply.
No experience is necessary. The minimum age is 6. For the Rivière du Sourd the minimum age is 12. The maximum number is 12 adults and children.
Below are four suggested itineraries to give you an idea of some of the trip difficulties. There are other possibilities. The actual itinerary will depend on what you want. All itineraries are subject to change due to skill level of participants, weather and water conditions.
A: Papineau-Labelle involving lakes (flat water paddling with short portages) 2 or 3 days. Itinerary below is for 3 days.
DAY 1: We will leave our base in Ste-Agathe-des-Monts at 8:00 hrs to arrive at l'Accueil Pie IX west of Lac Nominingue by 9:30 hrs, obtain our camping permits and proceed to the south end of Lac des Sept Fréres where the trip begins. After unloading canoes and packs and checking to make sure all gear is well packed we will paddle north on Lac des Sept Fréres, take a 200 m (220 yd) portage to Lac Diamond andl have lunch. After lunch we will portage 320 m (350 yd) to Lac Lartigue and then paddle south into Lac Labelle to our very private campsite on the rocky eastern shore.
DAY 2: Paddle back through Lac Labelle and liftover into Lac Mercier and then portage 140 m (150 yd) into Lac Bruchési also known as Lac des Grandes Baies. From here we paddle north around a point and then south. A 90 m (100 yd) portage takes us into Lac Jean on the Rivière de la Petite Nation. Paddling south we get into the river itself and continue to a small waterfall - and a 150 m (165 yd) portage to Petit Lac Wee. From here we will do another very short portage to Lac Wee and from the end of Lac Wee we take a 1,300 m (1,420 yd) portage to Lac Marceau where we will camp on a white pine point.
DAY 3: An 80 m portage from Lac Marceau brings us into Lac Montjoie, one of the most beautiful clear lakes in the region. There are only 4 fishing camps on it. It is 9 km (5.6 mi.) long and 4 km (2.5 mi.) wide with many islands. We paddle south on Lac Montjoie taking our time having a leisurely lunch and swim on Red Pine Island or at a beach. Then we will paddle and portage to a road and walk along the road about 1.6 km (1 mile) to our minibus, load the canoes and packs on the trailer and/or minibus, say goodbye to Papineau-Labelle and head home – or we could camp at Lac Joinville and hike up Mont Bondy and extend the trip to 4 days.
Hiking: A more diverse trip can be had by returning from Lac Labelle to Lac des Sept-Fréres, which eliminates a long portage, and doing a hiking trip up Mont Bondy or Mont Devlin to take in the great views.
B: Itinerary for the Rivière du Sourd in Papineau-Labelle (Whitewater and flat water paddling) 3-days.
The Rivière du Sourd itinerary can only be done if the water is high enough. If we have a dry summer it won't be canoeable. It is a good river to learn the basics of whitewater canoeing and who doesn't like to travel down rivers?
DAY 1: We will leave our base in Ste-Agathe-des-Monts at 8:30 hrs to arrive at l'Accueil Gagnon, north of Duhamel by 10:00 hrs obtain our camping permits and proceed to the south end of Lac du Sourd. A car shuttle will then be done to leave a vehicle at the take out point approximately 40 km (25 mi) down the river. This will take about 1 hour. We will then have lunch and paddle to the dam at the east end of Lac du Sourd, liftover the dam and begin paddling the easy fast water. Time will be spent on white water instruction in preparation for the more difficult rapids that follow. We will camp at a site on the edge of the river.
DAY 2: The rapids begin to get more difficult, but they are all short sets. There will likely be 2 portages, 352 m (385 yd), and 385 m (420 yd), around a difficult rapid and a small falls. Your guide will spend considerable time instructing at the easier rapids to build skill and confidence. There is a considerable amount of flat water between the various short sets of rapids. We will camp at a site just below the falls.
DAY 3: Perhaps only one 440 m (480 yd) portage today but some canoes may wish to make two. Our take out will be just below Lac Nadia. Then we load the canoes and drive home.
Hiking: Spend only two or three days on the river and one day hiking up Mont Bondy or Mont Devlin.
C: Other flat-water itineraries for Papineau-Labelle: Spend 2 to 4 days on Lac Montjoie, Lac des Sept Frères, Lac du Sourd or Lac Joinville or a combination of these. These are all large beautiful lakes with excellent swimming and great campsites. Spend 1 or 2 days on the lakes and hike Mont Bondy or Devlin on the last day.
D: Itinerary for the Rivière du Diable in Mont Tremblant Park (Easy whitewater and flat water and some hiking) – 2 -3 days. The Rivière du Diable itinerary is best done when the water is high enough. During dry spells parts of the river become very shallow and it is necessary to either portage or wade with your canoe guiding it through the short sections of rapids. The rapids are all very short and easy and highly addictive. You will crave to learn more!
DAY 1: We will leave our base in Ste-Agathe-des-Monts at 8:00 hrs to arrive at the Centre de Service Lac Monroe by 9:30 hrs and obtain our camping permits. We well then proceed to our take out point near Lac Escalier or Lac Laplante and leave our car shuttle vehicle there. Our group will then proceed to Lac aux Herbes. At Lac aux Herbes we will unload our canoes and gear and should be on the lake by 11:00 hrs. However, we may take time for a swim and lunch before starting out. We will then paddle south through Lac aux Herbes. Time will be spent on white water instruction in preparation for the short class 1 and 2 rapids that will follow into Lac Montcourt. We will camp at Lac Montcourt or at a site farther down the river.
DAY 2: There are seven very short sets of rapids between Lac Montcourt and Lac Escalier with lots of flat water paddling between them. We may camp at the Pont Brulé rapid and portage back up this short section to practice our skills. We may stop for a swim and lunch on Lac Escalier or continue and run a 350 m (380 yd) set of class 2 rapids below Lac Escalier to camp at Lac Laplante. This may end the canoeing portion of our trip. If this is a 2-day trip there may be some time for a short hike to the Chutes du Diable.
DAY 3: We will do some hiking to visit the Chutes du Diable and Chutes Croche – two beautiful waterfalls. We may also have time to hike up a trail to the cliffs overlooking Lac Monroe. The views are superb and well worth the climb.
* A deposit of 20% of the trip cost is required to reserve; balance is due 60 days before trip departure.
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