James Bay Road website

Virtual Tour of the James Bay Road

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Km 0:

Beginning of the James Bay Road, just outside Matagami -- the start of your remote highway adventure! "Matagami" is a Cree word meaning "where the waters meet".

This is the last town you'll see for 620 km (375 miles)!! Stock up on what you need for the trip, especially gas. There's only one gas station between here and the end of the road.

The Shell station (the first one you encounter on your way in to town) is open 24 hrs, 7 days a week. There's a basic store here as well where you can get ice, some groceries, and other things.  In Sep 2005 gas was $1.21 per liter, and diesel was $1.07 per liter. But this was in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when gas prices went a bit nuts.
You may encounter logging trucks through km 200 or so.
The James Bay Road is reached via Hwy 109.

Km 0: "Route de la Baie James" -- The James Bay Road.
Km 2: Bell River. This is the longest bridge on the James Bay Road. The Bell River flows into Matagami Lake. The northern part of the lake then becomes the Nottaway River which flows north to James Bay.

This is the first of the large rivers that you will cross.

Km 6: Junction with bush road R1005, just south of the Checkpoint, running east from the road. This bush road leads south & east to Lebel-sur-Quevillon on Hwy 113.
Km 6: Checkpoint: Stop here and register.
Due to the remoteness of this road, you must stop here and register your travel plans. Open 24 hrs, 7 days per week.

Tourist information, maps, souvenirs, restrooms, picnic tables, shelter, telephone. You can also register for tours of the hydro-electric power installations of Robert Bourassa and LG-1, and make reservations for hotel rooms in Radisson & Chisasibi. Open 24 hours, all year 'round. (819) 739-4473. You are strongly urged to register here, due to the remoteness of the country through which you will be passing.
Information panel: "One territory ... six seasons".

Km 6: "Isolated Route for 375 km". From here on, you will see diminishing amounts of traffic, and only a handful of buildings over the next 375 km.
Km 6: Just beyond the checkpoint. No gas for 375 km. This sign is not a joke! There really is no gas or fuel of any sort for 375km! Nor any services.
Km 6: It's a long way to anywhere.
Km 8: Mont Laurier comes into view. There is a network of hiking trails there, including one to the top of the mountain.
Km 8: Strung out at various locations along the Road are these "Information Panels." Each one describes a different aspect of the country and the Road.

Unfortunately, they are all in French and Cree, not English.

This one is about Bogs and Fens, of which there are a lot in the part of the world.

Km 10: Mont Laurier trail, to the west of the Road.

You can climb to the top via trails and enjoy a magnificent view of Matagami's surroundings.

There is a network of trails surrounding the hill, and extending to km 12 & km 18.  A straight hike up and back would take about 1.5-2 hours. Note that it is a lot farther and higher than it looks from the road. The trail starts at the "Telebec Laurier" sign and is directly across the road from the Information panel.

This photo shows the start of the trail. It climbs by a roundabout route to the microwave tower at the top of the mountain, seen here in the distance. Don't block the gate when you park here.

Well, it's not really a "mountain", but it sure seems like it from the top! The top of the hill is at an altitude of  1550 ft (about 480 m), a climb of 565 ft (about 185 m). A straight hike up and back would take about 1.5 -2 hours.
Information panel: "Mont-Laurier - A taste of northern environments".

Km 10: Here are a series of photos along the trail to the top of Mont Laurier

Km 10: A trail map. Km 10 is at the lower left corner where the hiker symbol is. The top of Mont Laurier is at the red triangle that is located directly above the "Mont Laurier" label on the map.

I recommend you take the right-hand trail up to the top, and return the same way. I tried to come down via the left-hand trail, but it was so poorly marked that I couldn't find it in time to come down before it got dark.

Click here for more info about the Mont Laurier area.

Km 10: About 1/4 of the way up. The trail is fairly easy to follow if you elect to take the "right" branch from the start.
Km 10: The first viewpoint.
Km 10: Farther up the trail passes through a quite different landscape than lower down. Lichens, moss, spruce trees and rocks dominate.
Km 10: The view from the top, looking north.
Km 10: The microwave tower and helicopter landing pad at the top.
Km 10: Looking down from the top to the pull-off along the Road where the trail starts (it's the light spot in the center of the photo).
Km 10: Looking south along the James Bay Road. Matagami is visible in the distance (but not in this photo).
Km 12: Second access point to the Mont Laurier hiking trail system. Park along the road or drive in a short ways and park off to the side. No sign along the road.
Km 18: Here is the third access point to the Mont Laurier trail system.

The trail leads up the abandoned road seen on the far side of the James Bay Road here.  No sign along the road. Park along the road.

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