Quebec has the largest network of maintained ATV trails in the country, probably totaling about 12,000 km. These trails cross both public and private land, access through the private sections given after the various landowners granted permission.
For the longest time these trails were open only to ATVs, mainly because the huge network of ATV owners formed regional clubs that subsequently began clearing the trails and maintaining them regularly. All you needed for access was an ATV and payment of annual membership dues to your local club.
In 2005 a small group of off-road motorcyclists formed and approached several ATV clubs requesting access to the trails. Initially they were allowed access to a small network of ATV trails. In 2007 that group grew to form the FQMHR (Fédération Québécoise des motos hors route), and has since then associated with 20 ATV clubs and has been granted access to 4,000 km of trails, traversing several regions including the Laurentians, Lanaudiere and Saguenay/Lac St-Jean.
Last Friday the FQMHR held a media day at Mont ST-Bruno just outside Montreal, followed on Saturday by a demo ride open to the public. Many manufacturers were represented including BMW, Suzuki, Moto Guzzi, KTM and Yamaha and the short ride through the woods of the ski hill was meant to sensitize the public to proper off-road use and also to introduce riders to the FQMHR. The event was held in conjunction with Moto Trail Adventure and RidAventure.ca.
Quebec’s trails are open to street legal dual-sport and adventure-touring bikes and off-road-plated enduro machines and play bikes. A valid licence plate (street or off-road) is mandatory, not only by the FQMHR but by law. Use of closed-course competition motocross bikes (CRF-Rs, KXs, RMs, YZs, etc.) is prohibited; there are several privately owned closed courses and motocross tracks, some indoor, in the province to cater to those machines.
The FQMHR receives government funding in the form of $16 for every off-road bike registered in the province, the amount included in the licensing fee. Funds are also generated through the $100 annual FQMHR membership fee, which includes a renewable decal that allows access to the trail network.
For now, ATV trails shared with motorcycles are located only on public land, as agreements reached for private land use have been negotiated with ATV clubs only, for ATV use. However the FQMHR is working on expanding the trail network, including using private trails.
Legally, since the shared trails are on public land no one can refuse you access if your bike has a valid licence plate, however the money collected by the FQMHR goes towards maintaining the trails, so there’s no need to be cheap.
For more info or if you are interested in membership go to www.fqmhr.qc.ca