Sunday, July 15, 2007

Scenic Ormstown to Powerscourt, Quebec Ride

Perfect cycling: Farms, rivers, and forests

In the Southwest corner of the Quebec province (ok, or nation) is the a little part of the country that is almost "The land that time forgot." It is also known as the Chateauguay Valley. It's cut off by the St-Laurence river to the north and the US border to the south, so it's sort of isolated, but it is close to Montreal.

The Chateauguay river starts in Chateauguay Lake in the Adirondacks in New York State. Once it reached the Canadian side of the border, it winds it's way northwest to exit into the St-Laurence River at Chateauguay.

Although the town of Chateauguay is a Montreal suburb, if you dirve the Rt 138 heading upriver a mere 20 or 30 kilometres, you will arrive in pure rural countryside, and it's a pure delight to ride bicycles here.

The Chateauguay Valley is in a hidden corner of Quebec

You can park in St-Martine, Howick, or Ormstown. For an easy upriver ride I like to use Ormstown-Powerscourt as a reference. Ormstown is a good starting point with excellent services and main street (note: no bike shop).

The destination of Powerscourt is a purely rural village with no services, but it does have Quebec's oldest covered bridge, Pont Percy.

A double-arch Maccallum

It was built in 1861

After a few years of disuse the foundation was repaired and it is in use today.

The bridge has a great sundeck on the east side, and the west side has a short walkway and benches. You can also explore down at the river's edge.

Walkway and Bench beside Covered Bridge

Disgraceful: stolen historical marker
Unfortunately, high metals prices have greatly encouraged theft of bronze historical plaques and markers. This bridge has had it's historical marker stolen. Luckily, I had taken a picture and this is what it says.

Missing historical marker

The route:

1- Start at IGA/Mall in Ormstown at outdoor Tourist Information Kiosk (note: there is an indoor kiosk with direct telephone link to the main tourist office in Valleyfield):
2-ride north across the river, in downtown Ormstown right along Lambton street, left at CIBC on to church and go past the park, turn at Esso, past hospital, st stop sign interection with Rt 138 - go straight across to 138A (aka the old highway).
3-Stay on Rt 138A to Dewitville or optional: cross river at first bridge (in 500 metres at Fureys) and take island Road to Dewittville.
4-At Dewittville, inspect old bridges across Chateauguay river, this tiny village is in the most pretty villages in Quebec book. Get on south side of river and go to Huntingdon.
5-In Huntingdon, stay on south side of river to continue to Athelstan and Powerscourt. In this town you can visit the Huntingdown downtown north across the river at two bridges (one old, and one new at the dam.
6-South side of river leaving Huntingdon takes you to Athelstan (restaurant, possible a dep), and continue to Powerscourt and the covered bridge. You should bring food if you plan a lunch or rest stop here, there are no services. Enjoy the place, it's a jewel.
7- Return the same way, or view the map below for return options.

Optional Return route A: 1st Concession road to Rockburn/Dewittville sideroad.
1- In Powerscourt, head east along the road that the bridge is on, direction Franklin.
2- Stay on this road until you see a sign for Rockburn.
3- Take this road left (north) all the way to Dewittville.
4- Turn right at Dewittville (direction east) and you can take either side of the river.
5- arrive shortly in Ormstown.

Other return routes
You can extend the "along the border" ride and turn north at numerous locations. In fact, you have complete freedom to do what ever you want: it's called exploring.

For More Information
You might want a good map. The Suroit tourism map can be picked up at the Tourism Information Kiosk in the IGA parking lot in Ormstown, it's located near the pharmacy. There's an indoor kiosk also.

Here's tourism Suroit website (link) (good maps and suggested cycling routes)
My blog post on the 2007 Suroit Maps (link)
Here's the Chateauguay River website (link) (excellent river information)
Here's my other blog posts of Chateauguay Valley rides (link)
The Chateauguay Valley "Heritage Trail" (link)

SAFETY - Avoid the numbered highways
I have one strong recomendation to make about cycling in this region. Stay off or strictly minimize and use of the numbered highways of Rt 138, Rt 201, and Rt 202. These are busy highways without paved shoulders - there is always a quiet country road nearby. Several cycling maps suggest riding Rt 202 between St-Antoine and Ormstown - I strongly recommend avoiding this very busy section of highway.

The detailed map, with return route options
Red Dots: Ormstown-Powerscourt
Green Dots, add Howick and Ste-Martine to ride
Orange/yellow dots: Loop ride option along US border, with two return options, first via Rockburn and Dewittville, the second via Franklin, St-Antoine, and the mysterious "Rock"
Blue Line: bike paths, ste-Martine to Beauharnois, and along Beauharnois Canal/Valleyfield.


At 5:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the trip idea from Ormstown to Powerscourt. Splendid!! The best part was on bike, the worst was getting here by auto! Lots of construction taking the Mercier bridge route. Thanks to your details I was easily able to find my bearing from the IGA park lot. I 1st missed the bridge because I was going to fast. Didn't look to the right. I rode on and discovered the Labrador water plant! Turned around and found the bridge. This is a lovely area, and I will return with friends. I saw at least 4 other bicyclists. Thanks again for this excellent bike trip suggestion.


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