Abitibi- Temiskaming & Baie-James Regions, Quebec
By Harold McAdam
Longtime Supertrax readers know one of our favorite riding destinations is the Abitibi-Temiscaming region of Northwestern Quebec.
Big, wide, well-signed trails are the area’s key ingredient. Last spring we decided to expand our horizon and combine riding in the Abitibi Temiscaming region with Baie-James, the next tourism region to the north.
Unbelievably, we rode here the first week of April and the snow conditions were absolutely incredible. To make things even better, the daytime temperatures were extremely favorable, too.
Our trip began at what many consider the nerve centre of the Abitibi-Temiscaming region, the city of Val d’Or. Val d’Or has great access via highways and excellent hotel accommodation with welcome parking for trucks and trailers. Our destination was the most northern point on the highly organized FCMQ trail system, Matagami, Quebec, then we planned to return via an alternate route back to Val d’Or.
Abitibi trails are like highways. Couple that with a combination of sparse snowmobile traffic and impeccable grooming, then throw in detailed signage and route maps and you’ve got a truly user-friendly place for snowmobiling tourists.
On day one, heading north on Trans-Quebec Trail 83 into Senneterre for lunch, we had a minor mechanical problem with one of the sleds. There was no dealer in that community for the particular brand of snowmobile with the problem, however, the local folks, who totally understand snowmobile tourism, stopped what they were doing and got us happily on our way with only the slightest delay enroute to our overnight stay in Lebel surQuevillon.
From here, if you’re a truly adventurous traveler, you can choose to head east towards Chibougamau and Lac Saint-Jean.
The trip to Matagami and back via trail 396 and returning on a club trail 109 is highlighted by a stretch requiring at least a 100-mile (160km) range with your snowmobile. On this run, if your sled is a thirsty one, you need to exercise some self-control with the throttle.
Believe me, self-control isn’t easy with the clear sightlines and fantastic grooming here.
One of the highlights of this trip was the abundance of wildlife and the fact that in plain sight of all of us we observed four Canadian lynx – not the vintage Arctic Cat tracked type but rather the 4-legged variety.
After enjoying another trip in these two regions we continued to be impressed at how the clubs are able to maintain such a high caliber of trail development with such a small population!
For snowmobilers, riding here is an incredible experience. It’s like having your very own private trail system. Amazing.