expédition 51

Discover EXPEDITION 51° Loop! Drive through Spectacular Natural Splendour.

This crescent-shaped trail is a favourite for those who love long road trips through immense stretches of unspoiled wilderness. Starting in Baie-Comeau on Route 289, the drive is 1,700 km long and will take you at least 26 hours. it crosses Labrador from west to east on Routes 500 and 510 then continues down to the Lower North Shore. Once there, a scenic detour beckons: a 150-km trip along the Chicoutai* Scenic Route, from Blanc-Sablon to Vieux-Fort and back, to view the majestic waterways of the Gulf of St.Lawrence. (*Chicoutais, or cloudberries, are small flavourful, amber-coloured berries native to Quebec's North Shore.)

Once back to Blanc-sablon, you and your vehicule could travel by ship back to your starting point of Baie-Comeau. The M/V Bella-Desgagnés brings supplies to the Lower North Shore's coastal villages. From the ship's deck, you can watch some 500 km of scenic coastline glide and stroll through picturesque fishing villages that are only accessible by sea. All too soon, you'll be arriving in Kegaska, the first place where you can pick up Route 138 for a 650-km, 8-hour drive along the north shore of the St.Lawrence back to Baie-Comeau. The sailor's life is not for you? You can always take the ferry from Blanc-Sablon to Newfoundland.

Following this trial is like a Choose-Your-Own-adventure trip; you can stay on it for a few days, the whole summer or throughout the winter. The trail passes through boreal forest to taiga; it winds in and out of charming towns and villages where you can discover the lifestyle and culture of the francophone, anglophone and Aboriginal populations, as well as the Métis and Inuit communities. There are lakes, rivers and mountains, where you can hunt and fish, rough it in the wilderness, hike and kayak, and, at the end of the day, camp out under the northern lights. The curious can visit hydroelectric dams and open-pit mines. When winter comes, the North Shore is THE place to snowshoe and ski, or to go snowmobiling and dog sledding.

The Greath Northern Loop

By Road and By Sea

Caution is required when driving this trail; while many sections are paved, some are only surfaced with gravel. The steep and narrow roads have tight turns and no shoulder, and become slippery in wet or icy conditions, so all-terrain vehicules and motorbikes are strongly recommended. While some adventurous types have driven this trail in a regular sedan, you are the best judge of your driving skills and your vehicule's capabilities. Whatever your mode of transportation, be sure to plan your trip carefully: pack well and know where to stop for supplies.

  • For a customized trip, advice on a route, Coste travel agency specializes: 1 877 573-2678 or voyagescoste.ca.
  • On the Trans-Labrador Highway: 1 709-944-5399 or gatewaylabrador.ca

Head north to reach the town of Fermont and its windbreak wall. then cross the Groulx Mountains, part of the Manicouagan-Uapishka Biosphere reserve, and skirt the edge of the Manicouagan Reservoir that lies within an impact crater formed by an ancient meteorite. Hikers will want to explore some of the many hiking trails that branch off from this road.

Local Attractions

  • Manic-2 and Manic-5 hydroelectric dams and facilities.
  • Uapishka station.
  • Mont-Wright mining complex
  • Gagnon, a former mining town, dismantled in 1984 (at km 390).

On Route 389

Between Baie-Comeau and fermont, you'll find gas, food and accommodation at kilometre 94 (Relais manic-Outarde); 214 (Motel de l'Énergie); 316 (Relais Gabriel); 336 (Uapishka Station); and 565 (town of Fermont).

Telephone

There is NO cell phone service; there are 9 emergency phones at regular intervals on the shoulder. In Fermont, only some carriers offer cell phone service.

Remember to gas up at these place: Baie-Comeau, Manic-5, Relais-Gabriel, Fermont, Labrador City, Churchills Falls, Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Port Hope Simpson.