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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I would like to take a 2 or 3 day trip up to Vallee Bras Du Nord this spring or summer. When is a good time to go? Weather, black flies, mosquitoes, etc... I'm not looking to freeze but good with overnight temps on the cooler side.

Probably going to camp out of my truck but may grab a room (depends if I go with a chicky or solo). So I'd love to hear info on solid campgrounds as well as hotel info.

Looks like mostly XC type trails? No need to bring a DH?

Any must do or must see things? Brewpubs? Awesome food?

Thanks!
 

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trail gnome
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The St. Raymond sector in town is more flowy, XC type riding. The riding in Shannahan ranges from 100% dirt-covered "flow country" XC style riding, to rocky enduro-style descents. A long travel trail bike would be a good choice. I wouldn't recommend a full-on DH bike.

If you are staying in Shannahan, you'll want to pick up supplies in St. Raymond before you go. It's a bit of a drive from town to the park; about 20 minutes IIRC, and there isn't much in the way of conveniences in Shannahan.

We rented a cabin at the park. It was nice. Hot showers. Solar electric lights. Fridge, stove, etc.

The visitors centre in St. Raymond has a small restaurant attached. Good local brewed beer. The food was alright. There is a budget motel out back, and the St. Raymond trails start right there.

If you like technical singletrack, you have to do La Neilson. You climb up a gravel road and descend on Neilson. The trail parallels the river and passes by several waterfalls on the descent. Do it when it's dry. There are other trails you can combine with it to create an epic ride. Rumour has it they are adding even more distance to it this year.

There was a good thread on Vallee Bras du Nord in this subforum. See if you can find it. There was some good advice in that thread.

Cheers.
 
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Shannahan..

I rode Shannahan sector last week of August last summer. No bugs, weather was good. Only downside was the bike shop was closed because Quebec schools start up a week b4 Ontario, so their "summer" was done! But I had good choice of campsites and never needed anything form the shop. But the staff at the centre opened it up for me anyway so I could buy a Bras du Nord jersey :)
There is an 18 site un-serviced campground at the trailhead/visitor centre. I have a small trailer with solar so self sufficient for boondocking. It fit perfectly and a truck camper would fit too on these smallish sites. I can't comment on the other accommodations although I did see the yurts tucked away in the woods near the main trails. Not sure how vehicles access them since the river crossing is a bikes/hikers only cable bridge. The staff and everyone I met was very helpful and friendly, I really enjoyed it here. I'm in Muskoka so it was a long haul to get here or I would come more often.

There is a nice mix of trails for everyone with my favourites ranging from flowy, fun/ big berm trails to double black diamond trails like Nielson. Nielson was my favourite and I'm an intermediate rider and I was fine. I walked a few short features, not a big deal. The scenery along that trail is spectacular! I was on my Sherpa 27.5+ and it was perfect for these trails but any mtbike is fine . It is all XC riding. My pics....
https://goo.gl/photos/5dFesusrvC4hipex6
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the info guys. How is it in May or June? I'd like 65F or above daytime and fine with 40F overnight. I'm going blind so I don't have much to go off. I realize it's far north. I'm about 7 and a half hour away and probably 400-420 miles. I'm about 60 miles north of NYC.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Bike question:

I would take a FS Remedy probably with 150 rear and 160 front travel. I'd probably look to take another bike. Question would be, would I get more utility out of a hardtail (Canfield EPO w/ 140mm shock) or my Stigmata (more all around road bike).

Photo spots: I love to take pictures. Please let me know any must see areas.
 

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Yep May and June should be fine but bring bug spray. You won't need it so much when riding during the day when moving but depending on where you stop and in the mornings and evenings the blackflies and or mosquitoes can be a nuisance. I'm further away than that (10-11 hrs) and still considered it worthwhile and would like to go back. The trail work being done there is amazing and expanding every year. I liked the area, the scenery and feel of the place had a good vibe. My french language skills are very basic btw but I had no issues everyone was great helping me with whatever. Lots of info on their website.
 

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The Stigmata would be pretty much useless there. The Nielson Nord & Sud are as scenic as it gets ..that's where most off my pics were taken. Some of the hikes climbing to the top of the vallee would be very scenic and also graet for photography
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Great! This is what I needed to hear. I wasn't sure if I'd have hard pack roads like VT for the Stigmata. Sounds like Remedy FS and Hardtail would be fun.

I'll check out your photos. Looking forward to it.

If I were to hit it in mid May, would it be reasonable to say no black flies yet and snow melted? Mud season? I don't want to guess as my snowall has been lackluster but different world up there.

Where to stay?
 

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You're getting some great advice here and you're in good hands.

If you have any unanswered questions send [email protected] an email - he's an awesome and helpful guy who is very active in the area, and a builder of many of those trails.

Enjoy the trip this place is an incredible experience and a true 'destination' mtb network.
 

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Great! This is what I needed to hear. I wasn't sure if I'd have hard pack roads like VT for the Stigmata. Sounds like Remedy FS and Hardtail would be fun.

I'll check out your photos. Looking forward to it.

If I were to hit it in mid May, would it be reasonable to say no black flies yet and snow melted? Mud season? I don't want to guess as my snowall has been lackluster but different world up there.

Where to stay?
That will all depend on the sort of spring weather we get, it's different every year. Where I am we having a mega snow year this winter, probably heading towards a record. When this all melts it's going to be very wet for quite some time. Last spring was opposite, very dry and it carried right through summer. My suggestion is early May start emailing Giles Morneau. His contact info is on the mountain biking section of their website. He is the go to guy for info. I also got good intel by telephone and by messaging back and forth on their fb page!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
That's great info. Looking at the videos aND pics...I wanna go now!!!
 

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Can't really add anything else to this, other than to echo what other people have already mentioned and to say that the riding is great.

I went the week following Canada Day. The weather was pretty much the same as here in Ontario; hot. Lots of water there to cool off in, though. I also do not recall much in the way of bugs and I don't think that I even put any bug spray on.

I stayed in the motel in St Raymond. It was cheap, beer/food on site and some of the trails are literally a few feet from your room. Couldn't be better.

One tip I have is to download the Ondago app to your phone and then grab the maps. There is no cell phone reception in the Shanahan area, so having the offline map using GPS was a great tool (and seemed more accurate than the paper map).

I wouldn't worry about what bike to bring, as long as its not your downhill bike. Ride what you are most comfortable with. Some trails are very smooth, others are rocky. But nothing over the top.

Vallee-Bras-du-Nord Photo Album - Pinkbike

One thing that I'm curious about is if they close the trails when it rains. On the last day of my trip, it literally rained for 20 hours so I didn't even bother trying to ride.
 

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trail gnome
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Photo spots: La Neilson, Chute a Gilles, Chute Delanie.

Temperature: it is north, but not that far north. I can't imagine the average summertime temps being more than a degree or two below what they are in NY state.

When to go: mid-September would be my choice. Leaves changing colour (but hopefully not falling yet), fewer biting bugs around, cooler evenings better for camping, less humid than the height of summer. May might be mucky if they have a late spring thaw.

Salut!
 

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Hi Everyone, Gilles Morneau here, Biscut followed your advice and wrote to me, let's share the answer:
"Opening: Usually, we open the trails in mid-may. And yes we are buried under snow like never before, so maybe opening can be delayed. But there is no automatic correlation between amount of snow and mud season. Depends way more of the kind of spring we have. So if i were you, i'd plan for last week of may, or hold off for July. (less mosquitos in may).

Accomodation: We have a really cool hotel/pub/microbrewery called The Roquemont Hotel where bikers hang out, in the village of st-raymond, at the trailhead of one of our two hubs.

To stay more into the wild, you have options at the Shannahan trail hub:
Cottages for 6 to 12 people, fully equipped, one has a nice garage to store bikes
camping, where you have toilets but no running water and no showers.

we also have nice Yurts, but you cannot park your car there, you have to walk/ride a few kms, so less popular with bikers.

Language: Not speaking french was "not a problem" when i asked to guys like you coming from the States, after tehir stay. the staff of the Valley is bilingual, riders are, some citizens in St-raymond are a bit less educated but you'll manage to get and do whetever you need. will just add local colour to your experience."


For Canadmos who wondered if we close trails in case of rain: We do it only in extreme situations. We have closed the trails for maybe 2-3 days in the last whole 5 years. We know you are coming from far away so we don't want to ruin your vacation by closing at the first rain. However we rely on your judgment, you know it when it rains so much and your wheels create ruts that will need hours of maintenance. You understand that if our crews spend their time repairing the trails, they spend less time opening new trails. We prefer opening new trails, you like new trails, so be wise! :)

scoop: our signature trail The Neilson will be upgraded with a new section this summer, which will make it EPIC.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I was interested so I posted up and due to your answers I am definitely going to make the trip! Looking forward to it!! Now to decide when.
 

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I had a wonderful trip to Vallée last summer. The Neilson was the highlight of my season trail wise. I only wish there'd been someone to laugh at the hilarious cries of joy I made on the way down. Literally never stopped once to look at the scenery, but I caught some of it in my peripheral vision.

I thought all the facilities were wonderful. Very cool feel out at Shannahan. You feel like you're away from it all. Best to stock up and just enjoy being out there. There's a nice river you can soak it after the ride.

Heads up. No cell reception out there for this Telus user.
 

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I had a wonderful trip to Vallée last summer. The Neilson was the highlight of my season trail wise. I only wish there'd been someone to laugh at the hilarious cries of joy I made on the way down. Literally never stopped once to look at the scenery, but I caught some of it in my peripheral vision.

I thought all the facilities were wonderful. Very cool feel out at Shannahan. You feel like you're away from it all. Best to stock up and just enjoy being out there. There's a nice river you can soak it after the ride.

Heads up. No cell reception out there for this Telus user.
No cell reception for anyone I think.

This is VERY inconvenient when Gilles has sent you a nice, detailed email about a great route to follow and you can't access it at the trail head when you have a map in front of you (and fail to do any pre-ride research).

Consequently, you ride every other trail but Neilson, leaving it until the end. But you are feeling slightly off so you head straight back to the car and call it a day. You get back to your campsite, pull up the email to be reminded that Neilson is THE trail to ride in Shannahan. You ride St. Raymond the next day, intending to return to ride Neilson on day 3, and it's pouring rain :(

My story. The end.
 
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