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Sinuous, hilly and wooded, the cycling path of the Parc régional du Marécage-des-Scots immerses us inside an authentic Eastern Townships environment covering 8 km.
By Simon Diotte
The forecast this afternoon is quite depressing. Rain and more rain, says the weather channel. What can we do when the elements are against us? Well, we can make the best out of a bad situation!
I had heard that at the north extremity of the park’s cycling path you can rent two electric powered bicycles at the Walter-Mackenzie park campground in Scotstown. So, besides trying this new kind of bicycle, that has really gained in popularity, I’ll be able to enjoy the trail without too much effort, as long as I can keep my mind off the rain that might drench us. When I have had enough of the downpours, I’ll be able to head full speed back to my starting point.
I’m not the only one who isn’t afraid of a little humidity. Dominic Provost, director of the MRC du Haut-Saint-François, has kindly offered to accompany me on these electric bicycles. This guy never misses a chance to promote his pet project. “There are some projects we truly take to heart, and this park is one of these projects,” he says right from the start.
Before the rain could make us change our minds, we take off on the trail at full speed—with a little electric assistance—on the shores of the Rivière aux Saumons inside a luxuriant forest. The first advantage rain offers us is that the foliage is saturated with colour. Everything takes on a rich green hue. I feel as if I was in an epic genre movie! The second: we’re all alone here, which allows us to hit top speeds!
Contrary to many other comparable trails, the regional park trail doesn’t follow an old railway route. It was conceived specifically for hiking or cycling. “This is why we designed it with curbs, and without flattening the hilly parts,” explains Dominic Provost as we continue to pedal. The result? Riding on its crushed stone surface is far from being dull. We have a lot of fun negotiating all the turns and slopes, pushing both our electric and physical motors at full throttle.
There are several halts on the pathway; Many of them overlook the pretty cascades of the McLeod brook. At the end of the 8 km course, we arrive at the Scots marsh, a waterway that is not yet accessible, but will soon be refurbished. “Our project is to build a levee which will raise the water level and thus make the meandering brook accessible to small non-motorized watercraft,” explains Dominic. To be continued…
At the end of the trail, we reach the entrance of the Franceville sector of Mont-Mégantic National Park. We have two options: to continue the ride for an extra 4 km inside the park on the Vallée trail which will take us to the heart of the national park or to backtrack our route. We were soaking wet, so we opted for the second, still proud to have braved the rain.
Normally, water and electricity aren’t very compatible. However, riding an electric bike on a path of this quality, well, it’s a very different story! To be repeated in any weather!