Just west of Pembroke, 30 km of technical trail awaits you at Forest Lea. All MTB riders keen on a challenging, yet enjoyable rocky, rooty single track need to check this remote location one day.
Tucked away in eastern Ontario, close to the Ottawa River, where the wilds of the north can be felt, sits this little-known set of tracks.
Mountain bike riders will find little here that is Easy, as much of the trail moves at an Intermediate pace with occasional moments that call on your Advanced skills to be employed.
Aside from the flat access roads and overgrown nordic ski paths, much of the terrain is a mix of random rounded rocks and tree roots on single track. Though at times challenging, none of the gnarly sections were impossible, insane or endless.
Thankfully the tough stuff was not relentless, and interrupted by sections of clear trail to relax briefly and set up for the next upcoming series of challenges. A full suspension bike with large rims would improve your efforts.
Not an overly hilly place, the terrain undulates with small changes in elevation and a few short climbs are found on the west side.
If this sounds like more work than fun, then it’s likely not your thing. Mountain bike clubs in the Ottawa Valley regularly visit this location. Since it is not a busy place, you will need to be equipped to not get lost.
We rode the Red trail (the most popular) taking in sections of the easier Green trail as well. We enjoyed the twisty loop as it took us over long bridges to the lake for a scenic view. Then we passed through the playful Enchanted Forest section with garden gnomes between the rows of tall pines.
I would like to say I rode all the trails, but sadly my son and I eventually got chased out of the woods. By a bear? No, (though possible) the deer flies were just rabid that day! (It was a bad year.)
Seems these pesky, insistent flies are attached to moving objects and dark blue/black colours. My poor son had a dark blue helmet with a swarm orbiting his head. Expect the spring bug season here to be bad.
I have read others mention that the other trails looping out back are a tad harder and have a few rock drops you need to be aware of.
The club supplied map is a simple approximation of the actual trail. The loops actually twist and turn way more than illustrated. Add Nordic ski paths to the mix and the few old (some handmade) signs are barely enough to keep you on course.
A GPS map app would be good for reference. We were unsure of the way a few times, but a MTB rider has to be prepared for such situations.
If you need new technically challenging terrain, yet not overly hilly in your diet, then this place has plenty to keep you at it for the day. It is close enough to Pembroke to do lunch or stay over when you go.