Brompton bike camping at Îles-de-Boucherville national park, Quebec
Traveling outside of Ottawa with your bike became a little more difficult when VIA derailed their bike car from their Ottawa routes. Nevertheless, you can still travel with a folding bike on the train and the Brompton is ideal for this with its compact fold.
I biked to the Ottawa train station, bought a ticket and performed my first act of public folding in front of the growing Montreal destined crowd. After arriving at the central station in Montreal, I removed the Brompton cover, attached my travel bags and was on my way.
The destination? Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville – an easy 22km bike ride from the train station. With 99% of the route on completely separated bike paths, the bike lanes take you through the core, past the Jacques Cartier bridge, into residential Hochelaga (and their beautiful Parc Morgan) and finally alongside the port of Montreal.
At Parc de la Capture-d’Ethan-Allen, you can hop on a ferry that will take you (and your bike) directly to the national park for $4.25. The ferry is equipped with bike racks and is well-used during the weekends (being a ridiculously easy day-trip from the city).
When you debark the ferry, you will be on Île Charron. It’s a short ride to the park entrance along well-signed pathways.
If you’re camping, you get waved through the gate to continue to the main visitor centre. With your park pass and campsite arranged, you continue along the island’s pathway until you reach a small cable ferry (boat #2!). From here, it’s a short bike ride through some farmland and across another bridge to Île Grosbois. So.many.îles. Basically, it’s a series of small adjoining islands with the new campground occupying Île Grosbois. It sounds more complicated than it is. Just keep following the pathway.
The campground is brand new for 2015, so everything is in top shape from hammocks to bathrooms. With the island mid-Saint Lawrence, there’s a fair amount to party-boat traffic during the day and into the early evening. And being the Saint Lawrence, there is no swimming allowed. So, just be aware that you will have to partake in non-submerged water-related activities (kayaking, canoeing, fishing). I opted for drinking coffee, reading and hammocking.
Because Île Grosbois is only accessible by foot and bike, every campsite is equipped with its own bike rack. If you don’t have your own bike, you can rent them (along with gear trailers (free), kid trailers and kid bikes). So, don’t pack the kitchen sink because you’ll need to carry or tow it in. You can rent a tabletop propane BBQ at the campground shop, but I had my trusty JetBoil for easy camp cooking.
I considered staying a second night since the 8km kayak tour sounded right up my alley, but I was looking for a campsite that was a touch more remote. (Honestly, there was a family with loud kids and I was having no more from the family the squeals together, stays together.) I resolved to come back with the rest of the family having sufficiently scoped it out.
The great thing about a campground with no car traffic is that kids can bike freely around the campground (which you would think would make them tired). I woke up early enough to make coffee and break camp in time to hop the first ferry back to Montreal to continue my tour. Montrealers are so lucky to have this natural setting so close to downtown. I left a little bit jealous.