The Log Driver’s Waltz: Ottawa Valley Bikepacking Route

Written by Jen & Eric, Log Driver’s Waltz Route Developers

The Log Driver’s Waltz Bikepacking Route is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the most picturesque and challenging routes in Ontario and Quebec. Developing the route and sharing it, and our other routes, with bikepackers from near and far has been a rewarding community building experience. As well as taking riders into rugged backwoods of the Ottawa Valley and Outaouais our route is unique in that it goes through the downtown of Ottawa, Canada’s National Capital and parallels a portion of the Rideau Canal, a World Heritage Site.

The Log Driver’s Waltz follows 800 km of beautiful gravel and unmaintained roads, rail trail, single track and forested trails around the Outaouais and Ottawa Valley regions of Quebec and Ontario. Numerous riders have remarked how different the landscape is from one day to the next. Parts of the route are well off the beaten path and feel surprisingly remote. In fact, cell service is not always guaranteed and distances between resupply points necessitate careful planning. With a significant amount of climbing and rougher surfaces this route provides challenge to even experienced bikepackers. Riders looking for a gentler initiation into the sport, or those with time constraints may consider riding one of our shorter routes that range from 70 to 350 km.
Bathhurst Line Lanark County Ontario
On the Ontario portion riders experience the rocky outcrops, split rail fences, maple sugar shacks and woodlots of the Lanark Highlands. In the North Frontenac Highlands, towering White and Red pines and memorable climbs with views of the Ottawa Valley will capture the eye. Once it had been cleared by settlers this land proved to be too rocky and difficult to farm. Riders will notice historic buildings and fences now hidden in the returning forest. Stone fences and the roads they parallel represent years of backbreaking work. By contrast, our efforts to pass through the landscape by bicycle are relatively pleasant. From the highlands, the gentle hills and country roads leading down to the Ottawa River pass by fertile farms situated on what was once the bottom of the Champlain Sea.
The Quebec side of the route is equally varied with the steep punchy climbs and quaint villages of the Pontiac, LaPêche, and Wakefield areas. Challenging single and double track riding through the Gatineau Park takes riders to the edge of the Eardley Escarpment where they can look out over the Ottawa Valley to Calabogie and beyond. Once out of the Gatineau Hills, riders will find the scenic cycling paths along the Ottawa River and the Rideau Canal a treat as they survey the historic and modern architecture of the city that is centered where two waterways, complete with locks, meet in the heart of the nation’s capital.

2022 Grand Depart

This year our first Grand Départ will leave from Almonte on August 20th, 2022. There are two distances to choose from, the 800 km Log Driver’s Waltz and the 350 km L’EGGS Route. So far there are 27 riders from a variety of countries and provinces including, Australia, United States, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec who have signed up. Learn more about the 2022 Grand Départ here.

Frost on Mont Ste Marie Quebec
Jen passing old barn in Lanark Highlands
Alexandra Bridge, Parliament and Chateau Laurier, Ottawa, Ontario

About the Route Developers

Jen and Eric enjoy long distance biking, skiing and canoe trips. They began exploring the backroads of the Ottawa Valley with their children on two tandems in the early 2000’s. Realizing that the gravel roads were quieter (safer) and much more interesting than paved ones they began to actively seek them out. Over the years they have explored north, south, east and west of Ottawa. They believe that the Ottawa Valley is one of the best places to live on this planet, and certainly one of the best places to cycle.