I’ve had many great winter adventures riding Quebec trails on my Ski-Doo snowmobile, and I thought, why not explore La Belle Province in the summer too? So we trailered our Sea-Doo watercraft to Quebec to launch an 800-kilometre, 5-day Sea-Doo tour of the Richelieu River with side trips to explore Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence River.
Like most Sea-Doo riders, I had many upfront questions about selecting a first-time riding destination. I wanted to know that the waterways were PWC friendly, including good access to shore side fuel, food and lodgings. I also questioned that the daily riding distances were doable and that we had options if we changed plans.
This Richelieu River tour fit the bill – we could have either started at Sorel, on the north end where the Richelieu and the St. Lawrence meet, or at Venise-en-Quebec, located at the south end on Lake Champlain’s Baie Misissquoi. Either way, we would stay at the same places and ride each of the five main sections of this Sea-Doo tour. All have good services on route. Since we launched from the south, I’ll list each section from south to north…
Section #1 – Lake Champlain is about 201 kilometres (124 miles) long and has good water depth. New York State is on the west shore and Vermont on the east. Must-stop ports include Plattsburg, NY and Burlington, VT. Before riding Lake Champlain, Canadians on PWC’s need to check in at the marine port of entry at Rouse’s Point, NY, located at the northwest end of the lake on the north side of the highway bridge. When returning to home, Canadians need to check in at either the marine port of entry at Lacolle (about 1 klick north of Rouse’s Point) or by calling 1-888-226-7277. Americans only have to check in with Canadian authorities if they leave Lake Champlain to ride down the Richelieu. We rode this section on day two.
Section #2 – The upper Richelieu River from Lake Champlain to the end of Chambly Canal is about a 55-kilometre (34-mile) ride on calm, easy waters. Be aware that the Chambly Canal is a restricted speed zone for 20 kilometres (12 miles) and includes nine locks and eight bridges that will take at least three hours to pass through. Leaving from Venise-en-Quebec requires another border check in at Rouse’s Point (U.S.) and at Lacolle (CDN). We rode this section on days three and six (repeat border process).
Section #3 – The lower Richelieu River from the Town of Chambly to Sorel is about a 72 kilometre (45 mile) run on faster moving waters because the current really picks up after the canal. There is only one other lock to go through at Saint-Ours. We rode this section on days three, four and five.
Section #4 – St Lawrence River northeast from Sorel to Trois Rivières is about 57 kilometres (35 miles) along the main shipping channel on a very wide part of the river. We rode this section on day four.
Section #5 – St. Lawrence River southwest from Sorel to Montreal is about 73 kilometres (45 miles) on relatively sheltered channels in a narrower part of the St. Lawrence. We rode this section on day five.
We rode all of these sections on our Sea-Doo watercraft and thoroughly enjoyed the variety of scenery, different types of riding and shorelines that changed from wilderness on Lake Champlain to harbours for ocean going freighters along the St. Lawrence Seaway. This is definitely a Sea-Doo tour you can do, so check out our itinerary…
Day One – Trailer to Auberge du Lac Champlain, Venise-en-Quebec.
Day Two – Ride south on Lake Champlain to Plattsburg, NY and Burlington VT, returning to Auberge du Lac Champlain.
Day Three – Ride north on Richelieu River and overnight at Manoir Rouville-Campbell, Mont-Saint-Hilaire.
Day Four – Ride north on Richelieu and explore northeast on St Lawrence River to Trois Rivières, overnighting at Auberge de la Rive, Sorel.
Day Five – Explore southwest on St Lawrence to Montreal, then ride south on Richelieu, overnighting at Auberge Handfield, Saint-Marc-sur-Richelieu.
Day Six – Ride south on Richelieu to Lake Champlain and back to Venise-en-Quebec. Stay overnight at Auberge du Lac Champlain.
Day Seven – Trailer home
By Craig Nicholson, The Intrepid Cottager