Cycling

Granby-Waterloo-Parc de la Yamaska : Art, Nature and Bicycles

Posted on June 25, 2020

Routes that combine art, nature and bicycle touring are quite rare. Here’s one of them: The Artria cultural loop that I enjoy taking regularly since I’ve realized my dream of moving to the Eastern Townships. Let’s head out together to discover -or perhaps rediscover—this 56 km, rather even, easy, route, linking Granby, Waterloo and the Parc national de la Yamaska.

Anyone who loves art, if only a little, will be charmed by the giant sculptures—I insist on the word giant!—that can be seen mainly on the Granby and Waterloo portions of the Estriade bike path and adorn many rest areas along the way. Artria is the result of international art symposiums for monumental sculptures held here several times over the years. What a brilliant initiative! In fact, today we have an open sky museum, allowing us to appreciate the know-how and creativity of about forty artists from 17 different countries.

The sculptures in Waterloo received a bronze certification from the Mouvement Vélosympathique. They’re nestled inside an enchanting decor, which blows me away every time I pedal on the shores of the Yamaska River. The park’s creative ambiance—a true haven—and the ornamental horticultural designs are exceptional. To add to this symphony for our senses, loudspeakers send out harmonious music as well. Perfect perhaps for a picnic? I’ve even taken a nap here.

Pedalling on an Old Railway Track

Let’s hop on our bikes and head out! We start out in Granby, by the Lac Boivin fountain, where I love the sign that keeps track of the number of ramblers to have taken the route since the beginning of the year and each month therein. On the reverse side, presents the number of cyclists that have done the same. For the next 22 paved kilometres that separate Granby from Waterloo, we advance on an old, shaded railway right-of-way. From the Waterloo Tourism Information Bureau, we need to take Foster St. (route 112) for about a hundred metres, then we turn right on Allen St. to connect with the Campagnarde bike path. This route is covered with either crushed stone or beaten earth depending on the segment. The slight downhill slope has us pedal lightheartedly. Bouquets of ferns carpet the roadside, and the dense forest creates a dome to keep us cool on those very hot summer days.

Parc National de la Yamaska : Nature at Its Best

About ten kilometres further, we enter the Parc national de la Yamaska and here the fun really begins for me! I’m jubilant as I travel on this unpaved, winding and undulating section, that runs through the forest as it seems to dance along the North Yamaska River. The surrounding nature offers us its best performance, as all kinds of aromas tickle our noses! There are picnic tables set in different places to allow us to rest awhile and wade our feet in the calm water. I really appreciate the information panels offering us an overview of the Haute-Yamaska’s ecosystem conservation project. Good to know: as long as you stay on the bike path and don’t go to the beach or camping areas, the SEPAQ won’t ask you to pay the cyclotourist access fees.

We then arrive by the Choinière Reservoir, its dam and its dike. The time it takes to whistle a tune, stir up a few memories of our outing, and we’re back by Lac Boivin and the Artria works of art in Granby, as we smoothly end our 56 km ride. As you might have noticed, you don’t have to scramble like a mouse in a hive to decipher an itinerary or a map. It’s simple: Estriade, Campagnarde, Parc de la Yamaska. Barely 300 metres on the road, the rest of the way is done on bicycle paths.

If I’ve piqued your curiosity, I’m very happy. But, please note that it’s much better to conjugate art, nature and cycling in the present than in the conditional! Go, try it! Then, tell me what you think.

This itinerary is part of the CARTHY, the Corporation d’aménagement récréotouristique de la Haute-Yamaska, which is presently involved in a vast consultation and several studies examining ideal cycling networks throughout the planet. Surveys are currently being carried out. All this should result in a revaluation of the network and its attractions in the near future.

Yvan Martineau

Yvan Martineau is a “tourism and outdoors” commentator for Cogeco 98.5 fm. He’s also a reporter for the Grands prix cyclistes at TVA Sports and spokesperson for the Salon du vélo de Montréal. He hosted the television series La France à vélo, L'Amérique à vélo (Canal Évasion) and Culture Vélo (TVA).
Visit Yvan's website

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