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Cycling the Blueberry Route Around Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec

Cycling the Blueberry Route – called the Véloroute des Bleuets in French – over two to four days gives you a great sense of the countryside and the culture around the Lac-Saint-Jean region in Quebec.

"The first view of Lac-Saint-Jean in the distance"

The first view of Lac-Saint-Jean in the distance – about 40 minutes into the ride

The province of Quebec has done a brilliant job of putting together a series of biking trails (many are multi-use trails) around the province. All of them bundled together are part of what is called the Green Route. A couple of years ago I cycled the Green Route through the Eastern Townships and loved the experience.

The same positive experience was to be repeated on the Blueberry Route.

The Blueberry Route is 256 kilometers in total. It’s a loop that takes you around Lac-Saint-Jean through a variety of landscapes – including farm, city, neighbourhood and semi-industrial, on through a National Park, and alongside Lac-Saint-Jean. The terrain varies from flat to gently rolling hills to a few outright hills. It’s popular – very popular in fact – primarily with locals and people living within the province of Quebec. In 2012, 250,000 cyclists used the trails – though they certainly all didn’t do the whole route. From mid-May until mid-September roving ambassadors on bikes are present to help you with any troubles or support you might need.

"Expansive views of Lac-Saint-Jean"

Expansive views of Lac-Saint-Jean

My plan was to cycle the route – self supported – meaning that I had everything with me in a couple of panniers – over the course of three days.

Here’s what my trip along the Blueberry Route looked like: 

Day1: Pick up a bike in Alma from Equinox Adventure – complete with a set of panniers, a helmet and repair kit. Bike 94 kms (58 mi) from Alma to Dolbeau-Mistassini. Stay at the Motel Chute des Peres. (You can safely leave your car overnight by the Equinox shop.)

Day 2: Cycle 92 kms (57 mi) from Dolbeau-Mistassini to Roberval. Stay at the Gites les 2 Soeurs.

Day 3: Cycle 70 kms (43 mi) from Roberval back to Alma. (I stayed in Gite Almatoit in Alma the night before I left.)

This blog deals with Day 1 only. There will be another blog with information and photos from Day 2 and 3.

"Initially it wasn't very pretty getting out of Alma"

Initially it wasn’t very pretty getting out of Alma

The Equinox Adventures shop is a busy spot. Every day they send out large numbers of people; some are families just off for a few hours and many others are like me and off on a multi-day adventure. The staff give you a thorough briefing of what to look out for, the highlights of the route and a map. And then you’re off and on the route immediately outside their shop.

Leaving Alma – when you’re heading in a counter-clockwise direction – isn’t pretty. It’s a city that owes its’ existence to aluminum, paper and water. That should explain everything. But fortunately within 30 minutes you are in full-on quiet countryside.

"A Veloroute des Bluets help center along the route"

A Veloroute des Bluets help center along the route

It takes some time to get the hang of all the Blueberry Route markings – and to anticipate where you’re going.

Over the three days there were only a couple of occasions where I really felt turned around – and one was a detour that just needed more signage. The route endeavours to keep you off the highway but should you be on the highway there will be a sign at the beginning warning motorists that cyclists will be on the road for however many kilometers. The shoulders on the highway are wide and I always felt safe. There are kilometers of dedicated bike paths too and many a back road through neighbourhoods where you just look for the bike painted onto the road or one of the Véloroute des Bluets signs. Some of the paint on the roads is disappearing – especially on the way to Dolbeau-Mistassini so do keep an eye open for even part of a bike painted on the road.

"painted bicycles on the road"

Look for these painted bicycles on the road

It’s very pleasant cycling through a couple of small towns – past some truly beautiful farmland until you reach Point-Taillon National Park. The entrance fee is $6.50 per adult.

"quiet backroads"

The route takes you along quiet backroads with little in the way of traffic

"Glorious fields of oats"

Glorious fields of oats

The highlight of my first day was the 20 kilometres of cycling through Point Taillon National Park (Parc national de la Pointe-Taillon). If you only have the time for one part of the Blueberry Trail then I’d suggest doing a loop that’s approximately 32 kilometres long entirely in the park. It’s easy and perfect for families. You would have to add on a few more kilometres getting to and from the start point as well. And if it’s a nice day don’t forget bathing suits as the water in Lac-Saint-Jean beckons you to swim.

I stuck to cycling along the shore of Lac-Saint-Jean. I passed beach after beach – many deserted – until I reached kilometre 20 and the point where I could catch a ferry across the river to Péribonka. There is a ferry schedule but it wasn’t adhered to – at least on the day I traveled. Nonetheless waiting on a beach for a ferry is not a hardship. It’s about a 15 minute crossing to Péribonka. Bring $6 cash for that. You don’t have to take the ferry and you could follow the Blueberry Route to the letter but then you’d miss cycling 14 kilometres along the lake.

"A well used beach in the national park"

A well-used beach in the national park

"Easy - and pretty riding through the park"

Easy – and pretty riding through the park

"A rest spot with a view in Point Taillon National Park"

A rest spot with a view

"Ferns line the trail for kilometers"

Ferns line the trail for kilometers

"bikes and beaches"

Don’t forget your bathing suit if it’s a nice day

"I loved the little ponds & lakes dotting the landscape"

I loved the little ponds & lakes dotting the landscape

"Every kilometer is marked through the park"

Every kilometer is marked through the park

"Looking across to Peribonka"

Looking across to Peribonka

"It's just me and my bike on the ferry to Peribonka"

It’s just me and my bike on the ferry

From Péribonka it’s another 27 kilometres to reach Dolbeau-Mistassini. It’s primarily farm country through this section and the roads are dead quiet. There are long stretches of dedicated bike paths and several places where waterfalls force you off your bike for closer inspection.

"beautiful barn along the Blueberry Route"

Loved all the barns I’d cycle past

"Started running into waterfalls as I got close to Dolbeau-Mistassini"

Started running into waterfalls as I got close to Dolbeau-Mistassini

"Waterfall in the town of Sainte-Jeanne D'Arc"

Waterfall in the town of Sainte-Jeanne D’Arc

I finished at the Motel Chutes des Peres – scenically situated directly across the road from a huge set of falls.

"Waterfalls directly across from Motel Chutes des Peres"

Waterfalls directly across from Motel Chutes des Peres

Day one took me about 6 hours to cycle – but I stopped a lot to take photos – or at least that’s my excuse.

Useful Information about the Blueberry Route

  • If you don’t speak any French bring along a French-English dictionary as this part of the world is predominantly French speaking. I used my rusty high school French all the time.
  • Don’t expect to find much in the way of high-end accommodation. The B&B’s are clean and comfortable but not luxurious.
  • Always carry some food with you as there are long stretches between stores or restaurants. You can buy fresh cheese curds at every gas station and grocery store.

Have you ever thought of cycling the Blueberry Route?

Other posts that pertain to the area might be of interest:

Leigh McAdam

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*** A big thanks to Equinox Adventures for providing me with a bike and for Tourism Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean for assistance with accommodation.***

Author Leigh

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure - & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project - a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

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Join the discussion 16 Comments

  • Jennifer says:

    This looks like a gorgeous route to cycle! I’d definitely do it with the promise of those lovely beaches and waterfalls.

  • Steve says:

    It’s amazing that you cycled more than 10 feet with all of the amazing pictures you stopped to take. Quite the beautiful countryside but weren’t there blueberries along the route to stop and eat? If not, I suggest that they should be forced to change the name of this route.

    • @Steve Stay tuned for Day 2 as that’s when I ran into the blueberry fields. I was looking for blueberry pie right off the bat and never did find any. There was a huge fire back in the 1940’s I believe – which made the ground perfect for growing blueberries.

  • Looks like a beautiful area to bike. You can’t beat waterfalls, beaches, ponds, and of course blueberries. Did you see any interesting wildlife on the bike trip?

  • jill says:

    Oh my gawd… so pretty. I’ve never been much of a long distance biker but I’d suffere through 3 days of biking for that kind of view.

  • Claudia Carbis says:

    This is really such a nice post ! I do like & appreciate the most beautiful pictures too. There are such beautiful pictures that they make this post awesome.

  • Janice says:

    It looks like the route is a combination of paved and gravel surface… what kind of bike would you recommend, a hybrid or a road bike?

  • Nancy Erwin says:

    How easy would it be to not have reservations each nite and find accommodations around 5pm wherever one might be?

    • Leigh says:

      @Nancy You might need to call some B&B’s as there aren’t a lot of hotels/motels but doable. I think I’d carry a list of possibilities with me and then try and book by noon so you don’t run into problems.

  • Shelley says:

    Hi. Thanks for all the interesting info and lovely photos! We are planning an extended trip out east late this summer and as avid bikers, after reading this, we will want to bike this route! I have a road bike (my husband rides a mountain bike with slicks) and I do the occasional Route Verte cinder trails with no problem – am I going to have an issue with the surface on this trail do you think? Thank you.

    • Leigh says:

      @Shelley A huge part of the trail is on pavement but you will have to exercise some caution on the gravel sections – and if I remember correctly more packed dirt than gravel. The toughest part might be through Pointe-Taillon National Park but the riding is easy and it sure is beautiful.

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