From Dock to Dock, A Gravel Bike Circuit to Explore

Published on Apr 18, 2023

Our secret to a successful outing in the Eastern Townships? Combine activities that we know well with others that take us out of our comfort zone and allow us to explore new places...

By Ian Roberge

This is exactly what we did on our last trip out to the Townships. First, a hike up Mount Sutton, then a gravel bike ride following the Dock-to-Dock circuit in the municipality of Stanstead and the surrounding area. This 55-kilometre route with an elevation of almost 850 metres, combines two loops which can be completed one after the other.

A Powerful Start

We headed out on our gravel bikes from the parking lot by the general store, in Georgeville. Already the charm of this village set the tone for what would be an outing brimming with all kinds of discoveries. We had barely left the town and right away we were amazed by the quiet roads here. . . To be able to travel this route invariably gives you a feeling of freedom.

Since the first part of the circuit is all uphill, it’s important to start slowly, not to overexert ourselves. Don’t worry, it’s a long but gradual climb! About ten kilometres later, after a steep descent on Ridgewood Road (which must be taken with caution!), we arrived at the Narrow covered bridge spanning Lake Memphremagog’s Fitch Bay and offering us a postcard-perfect environment. Interestingly, it’s one of 15 covered bridges in the region that have withstood the test of time.

After the Narrow covered bridge, we tackled another impressive climb. This circuit is by no means flat! Following Route 247 for a few hundred metres, the paved section will make your leg muscles work hard, but reward you with a beautiful view of the valley. At the junction with Marlington Road, remember to turn around and take two minutes to admire the view . . . and perhaps catch your breath.

Delightful Roads and Landscapes

The next twenty-kilometre section was more relaxing and mostly downhill, allowing us to regain our energy while admiring the rural landscape. After passing Harvey Bay and its old boathouses, we continued on our way, still with the feeling of being alone in the world. The wind whispering through the trees, the horses in the fields, the birds chirping . . . a feeling of completeness came over us as we pedalled our way across this part of the route.

Weir Park, in Cedarville, is where we spent most of our time, as we admired the beauty of Lake Memphremagog. This late afternoon summer day offered us an exceptional light making the landscapes even more beautiful! Cyclists, strollers and paddlers were all around, each finding their own way, making the most of this beautiful and pleasant evening.

The next part of the route took us along the American border. This is a feature that always appeals to us and adds a little something special to the circuit.

Flirting With the Tomifobia Nature Trail

We continued on a section of the Tomifobia Nature Trail, a bike path set on an old railway route covering dozens of kilometres between Stanstead and Ayer’s Cliff. If you’re looking for a peaceful or easier ride (with your family, for example), this is the perfect venue!

The end of our trip, however, turned out to be quite adventurous. A short detour took us back up the hill on our way to Ruiters Corners, in order to better head down and cross the Tomifobia Nature Trail again. However, if you wish to conserve your energy, you can stay on the bike path until Chemin Laflamme. Here’s where we finally take on the last section of the route which includes the steepest climb of the circuit with a slope exceeding 13% in some places.

As always, the delightful landscapes befitting the Eastern Townships won us over. Its valleys that spice up our physical efforts and its vast natural spaces have definitely not finished amazing us!

Ian Roberge

The founder of the blog 4000 Hikes, Ian is a photographer and is passionate about the great outdoors. He’s always looking for new places to capture with his camera. Since a very young age, this Eastern Townships native has been exploring the region’s trails, searching for more and more beautiful summits. Every weekend, he goes off to discover or rediscover our surrounding nature and tries all kinds of new experiences that he then shares with us.
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