The Cantons de l’Est, the eastern Townships of Canada’s Province of Quebec, are a natural vacation getaway destination for cyclists of all levels. With a terrain that varies from gently rolling to small mountain roads, there is a challenge for anyone on trails and planned routes that include dedicated trails and narrow country lanes.
The Eastern Townships are a rural place laced by small rivers and streams, dotted with large and small ponds and lakes. Human feet tread easy here where, aside from Sherbrooke (population 148,000), towns and villages tend to be small. This is a place where agriculture fits comfortably in with forests and where imaginative farmers and vintners produce award-winning local cheeses, fine still and sparkling apples wines and exceptional traditional wines.
La Route Verts, The Green Route cycling trail
The primary trail system here is la Route Verte (the Green Route), a bike trail network that links all the way to Montreal and is part of the Trans Canada Trail. The Green Route covers the entire province of Quebec and has more than 4,000 kilometers (2,400 miles) of trails. Within the Eastern Townships this amounts to hundreds of miles mainly over former railroad lands. The Route enters the townships area near Farnham in the west and runs over a 25 km (15 m) section to Granby. Enjoy the lake there with a nice bike trail and park around it, and don’t miss the outstanding zoo. The Ste. Christophe Hotel in Granby has direct access to the Trail.
From Granby through Orford National Park to Magog
From Granby the trail is named L’Estriade, a 21 km (12.6m) ride to Waterloo, all on paved surface. The next leg runs over a dedicated trail system, either paved or well-maintained stone dust, and unpaved sections through Orford National Park and on to Magog. This busy little town is at the head of Lake Memphremagog, a 29 mile long lake shared with the State of Vermont. The trail is known as la Montagnarde (57 km, 34 m) and you might want to consider riding it in either direction while using Orford and the Orford National Park as a base. There is camping in the National Park, as well as swimming, boating and hiking, and a range of lodging choices from the luxury resort level of the Estrimont Suites and Spa to the comfortable and well located Auberge 4 Saisons Hotel, which even has a small store where you can pick up supplies.
From Magog to Sherbrooke and beyond
While in Magog take a break with Excursions Memphremagog, which has three cruises each day from Wednesday through Sunday, including romantic dinner cruises with fine dining. From Magog, a 35km (21m) segment called Axe de La Magog rounds Lake Magog and crosses the Magog River connecting to the Axe du Sommet (16km, 9.6m) and the top of Lake Massawippi at North Hatley. The historic 5-star inn, Manoir Hovey on the lake shore welcomes cyclists and has bicycles for the use of its guests. From this point the trail heads north, through Sherbrooke and on out of the Townships at Kingsley Station, a distance of 96 km (57 m).