Sunday, August 06, 2006

Cycling Destination - Ormstown/Chateauguay Valley

Montreal Area Cycling Destination: Chateauguay Valley

Ormstown, in the heart of the Chateauguay valley, is your place to go if you want excellent and easy country-road cycling within one hour of Montreal.

Ormstown has many choices of rides, both the out and back and the loop variety. Here are some suggestions.

Take the Mercier Bridge, and route 138 all the way to Ormstown, about 40 minutes from Pont Mercier. I suggest you park car at IGA store. Alternatives are at churches, the high school (CVR) or at the curling club.

1) Ormstown-Huntingdon (out and back)

10 miles each way, scenic, river views, pass village of Dewittville. Take 138A (old highway) to Dewittville and cross river for rest of way to Huntingdon (commercial part of Huntingdon is across river in Huntindon (two bridges)

2) Ormstown-Huntingdon-Powerscourt (covered Bridge)(out and back)

Follow Chateauguay River west past Dewittville, Huntingdon (services), Athelstan (food), and Powerscourt to Pont Percy Covered Bridge.

3) Ormstown-Huntingdon-Powerscourt-Rockburn-Dewittville (loop) (also, can finish same as Franklin-Ste Antoine Abbe-The Rock ride). Same as previous, turn left and go east when reaching Powerscourt, but don't miss the covered bridge!

4) Ormstown-Dewittville-Rockburn-Franklin-St-Antoine-Abbe-"the Rock"-Tullochgorum road (a personal favorite)

A loop ride with river, farmland, wetland, Adirondack foothills, apple orchards, villages, and bedrock scraped clean in last ice-age. An excellent ride.

5) Ormstown-Tullochgorum road west to 202 (out and back) Scenic flat forested countryside

6) Ormstown - 2nd concession west to 202 (out and back) Scenic flat open farmland countryside

7) Ormstown-Howick-Ste-Martine along river (out and back)

A relaxing ride along the Chateauguay river eastwards, passing Battle of Chateauguay museum, Georgetown bridge (Howick) and dam in Ste-Martine

Other rides in Region.

-Just north of Ormstown is Valleyfield, where the Beauharnois Canal has a bike path on both sides.

-Across the St-Laurence from Valleyfield is the Soulanges Canal bike path, which is paved.

-Saint-Martine has a bike path to Beauharnois, with poor signage at Beauharnois (don't get lost!) where you can connect to Canal path.

-Valleyfield (which is technically an island) has a bike path network.

-South of the Chateauguay Valley is the USA, specifically New York State. Large paved road shoulders welcome you here - remember to cross only at manned border crossings. Herdman, Franklin, Havelock, and Hemmingford are the main border stations.

-Further west of Ormstown and north of Huntingdon is the south shore of Lac Saint-Francois, which has some attractions, more or less around Saint-Anicet, this road can be busy with cottage traffic. To the west here is a nature preserve.

-You can ride all along the Chateauguay river from the city of Chateauguay, you can also take a ferry across the Saint Laurence from Lachine on summer weekends.

-Pont Mercier is extremely NOT recommended for crossing on bicycle.

Other sights/Activites

-Apple season - August to October is apple season on Covey Hill south of Ormstown. From Rockburn to Hemmingford (including Franklin and St-Antoine Abbe) apple orchards provide a variety of opportunies for buying apples and apple products, doing the U-Pick thing, and other activities related to apples and other farm products.

-Country Fairs - There are Country Fairs in Ormstown, Huntingdon, and Havelock.

-Canoeing/kayaking the chateauguay river - Places in Huntingdon and Ste-Martine offer canoe and Kayak rentals to visit a different side of the Chateauguay River, the water side!

Museums - There is a museum of the battle of the Chateauguay, where Canadians led by Col Charles de Salaberry repelled an invasion of American troups in 1813 (war of 1812) who were plannning to capture Montreal, cutting off the supply lines to Canadian Forces fighting upriver in the Great Lakes region.


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