The province of Quebec has many excellent bike trails and it’s hard to choose which to do, but for this trip we decided to cycle a classic: Le P’tit Train du Nord!
As you may guess from the name, this trail was built on an old rail line. It’s 200km long, running from Mont-Laurier to Saint-Jérôme, but because the railway is no more (it shut down in 1981), there’s no train to take us to the start of the ride, and we didn’t want to bike there and back. That’s redundant. Thus began my search for how to get to the start of the route without a car.
🚌 Getting to Mont-Tremblant Without a Car
Maybe it’s because we were traveling in the off-season (late May), but I could not find any transit to get us all the way to Mont-Laurier, only halfway to Mont-Tremblant. And even then, there were exactly two options: 1) a bus that leaves very early in the morning from Montreal, or 2) the EXO train to Saint-Jérôme and a local bus (Transport Laurentides) to Mont-Tremblant. Because I (Heather) hate coach buses (motion sickness) and mornings (ugh), we chose the second option.
EXO is a regional train system much like the GO Train in Ontario. Thus, trains run most frequently during peak commuting times. Still, off-peak trains out of Montreal to Saint-Jérôme run every couple hours, and coincide with the Laurentides Transit buses.
Also like GO, passengers buy EXO train tickets from kiosks (most in-person ticket sales have been shut down) before boarding the train. Problem is, the kiosk system is very confusing. It gives all the commuter options, like monthly passes, 10-ride tickets, zone tickets, etc., before finally offering a single ride ticket. Thank goodness we arrived at Gare Parc early enough to figure it out.
The train costs $6 and takes 1 hour to get from Parc Station to Saint-Jérôme. Upon arrival, we walked down the platform (away from the parking lot) to the Gare Intermodale and caught the bus to Mont-Tremblant.
This is a transit bus, and we simply carried our folding bikes inside, but if you have full-sized bikes there is a bike rack on the front of the bus. The bus costs $6 (exact cash needed) and takes 1hr 43mins to get to the town of Mont-Tremblant, making multiple stops in little towns along the way. Note that this bus does not take you to the resort town; that’s 17km north of the main town. There is a local bus we could have taken to get to the resort, but we opted to cycle the trails there instead. After all, it’s only an hour bike ride. Easy peasy and much nicer than another bus ride!
🚴 Biking to Mont-Tremblant Resort
The bus dropped us off one block from a trail that quickly connects to Le P’tit Train du Nord. After being in transit for 3+ hours, we were starving. Luckily, there are frequent rest stops along the trail. In just a few minutes we came across this lovely picnic area (Parc du Voyageur) and pulled over to eat our lunch.
Then we used the park bathroom, filled up our water bottles, and strapped our backpacks to the Bromptons’ back racks, and we were off!
We got excited when, a mere half-hour later, we arrived at the old Mont-Tremblant train station.
Were we here already?! But this is “Le Village de Mont-Tremblant” not the resort town. So we turned right at the old station and kept going.
Komoot’s directions told us to stick to the main road (Chemin du Village) where there is a paved bi-directional bike lane on one side, but instead we blithely followed trail signs and ended up on a beautiful bike trail called La Villageoise!
Soon we arrived at Mont-Tremblant Resort Village, and to complete our multimodal day, we went up the gondola!
Thus concludes our journey to Mont-Tremblant without a car! For more footage of the ride, see the video below.
The next day, we officially began our tour on Le P’tit Train du Nord. We decided to split the 110km ride into two easy 55km days, staying overnight at the halfway spot in Sainte-Agathe. The only problem? The weather forecast was calling for RAIN and lots of it.
How’d you travel from Toronto to Montréal? Did you take Via Rail?
If so, how did you work the Bromptons since Via’s got a “no bicycles” in carry-on policy. 🙁
Yes, we travelled on VIA Rail. The no bicycles policy only applies to non-folding bikes. Since Bromptons fold down to the size of a carry-on suitcase, we’re allowed to put them in the regular luggage racks. In fact, on the way there and back, VIA employees saw our folding bikes and moved us into the priority boarding line! We actually got special treatment because of them. 😀