P'tit Train du Nord - Gratuit (free!)
The P'tit train du Nord 200 km laurentian bicycle path will no linger be charging a daily or seasonal fee for bicycle use.
This path, one of the finest bike paths in Quebec, was noticing that the fee both annoyed and deterred users from healthy exercise, as well it prevented the path from receiving gov't money for maintenance.
This path has a rockdust surface from St-Jerome to Labelle (just north of Tremblant - the southern 90km), and is paved with asphalt from Labelle north to Mont Laurier (northern 110 km). It follows the rail line used by skiers for decades. It's transformation into a bike path has created one of the jewels of Quebec bike path cycling.
Many of the villages have restored train stations and are quite charming, and have useful and assorted local services. (museums, restaurants, bike shops or rentals, etc)
Our favorite section (and a good first visit) is Ste-Adele to Val David and back (downhill!) to Ste-Adele (or for a slightly longer ride start at Prevost), but since this is claimed to be Canada's longest linear park, there are lots of nice sections. We have done all of the path in different visits over the years, and you should visit all parts of this path and make up your own mind!
Please note that the rock-dust-portion of the path does not open until it is completely dried, and this date is the Victoria day (patriotes holiday in french) in late may. The paved sections are open when the snow is gone, which may be now.
The official website is at Laurentians tourism office, and the P'tit Train du Nord guidebook is available at all access points of the path. But if it is your first time you might want to stop at an official tourism office on the autoroute north to be sure to have one with you. This guidebook is really useful, and has excellent maps (including how to get to the path from the autoroute-useful info indeed!) and info on available services at different stops along the path.
The autobus company petittraindunord specializes in transporting luggage and users to different locations along the bike path. Their website has useful info including map. For those interested in doing the complete path in a multi-day bicycle trip (this is a trip that is accessible to all ages and expertise levels), then you should use this service!
The New York Times featured a three-day bike ride along this park in a travel feature last year. Click here to read it. If the article photo is any indication, this is a great destination for all ages!
Note: You can bike to the path from Montreal on the Route Verte. The section from Laval to Blainville is a bit indirect, but we are informed that this will be improved as 2008 progresses. From Blainville there is a paved path all the way to St-Jerome (also newly free this year).