Video: Mountain Biking Around Eastern Canada's Québec City - Episode 2

Sep 18, 2018
by Gabriel Gakwaya  

Ride Québec City is a 4-part mini series showcasing the riding in and around the Québec City Area. This is episode II, filmed at Vallée Bras-du-Nord.

“Full Neilson”, not to be confused with Squamish’s Full Nelson, is a classic route in the Vallée Bras-du-Nord Shannahan zone. It starts with the Neilson Est, then link to the Neilson Nord and Neilson Sud for a total of 32 km and over 1100 m of climbing and descending.
See the route on

To ride a “Full Neilson” at least once a year is becoming a classic amongst locals and savvy riders alike.

Several elements probably contribute to the growing flow of riders visiting this area but the rugged, remote feel, the incredibly varied terrain and the great craftsmanship with which the trails were designed are probably on top of the list.

After a little warm-up on the Grande Ourse singletrack, the route really begins with the Neilson Est, a 9 km trail featuring the brutal 2 km climb on a steep and loose doubletrack called the “Côte à Ti-Oui”. The reward? Over 3 km of descending under tall deciduous tree canopy. It’s the kind of downhill that’ll leave you grinning from ear to ear.

The main feature of lower Neilson Est

Nic gaping some rocks for tienne to show how tall and leafy the trees are on the Neilson Est.
Sending it
The Neilson Est might be a bit hard to reach, but it's always worth it!

The Neilson Est connects with the Neilson Nord, one of Vallée Bras-du-Nord most renowned trail. Mainly carved on the banks of the Neilson River, this trail greets the riders with gorgeous bridges and unique vistas on the Cap des Sept Côtes, a 300 m rock face that looks like something between the Pisgah Looking Glass Rock and the Squamish Stawamus Chief.

The classic Neilson Nord berm with the Cap des Sept C tes in the background
Amazing trail work from the crew at Vall e Bras-du-Nord

Nic sending it to flat
The Neilson Nord trail is a Québec classic

The trail work is amazing, so much that it’s sometimes easy to forget how beautiful the scenery is. Lots of the trail building there is done through a social reintegration process for youths, helping them get back on track by being outdoor and building trails.

Looking at the Neilson River

The last trail on the “Full Neilson” is the Neilson Sud, the first Neilson trail to open, back in 2012. In continuity with the river theme, this trail was built along a beautiful creek called "Ruisseau à Théo".

Upper Neilson Sud

Once out of the Neilson trails, you’ll have plenty of options to pedal back to the parking lot. The easiest one is the forest service road, but since you’re in Shannahan, it’s best to ride a bit more by using Grand Ourse and Grande Évasion.

If you want to push toward a 40 km day, the later links with Aurore, a climbing trails that give access to Boréal, a 3.4 km downhill trail.

Our next stop will be at Mont-Sainte-Anne, where we’ll look at the rebirth of a popular trail and how this iconic mountain is trying to keep up with the changing needs of riders.

Visit the high-res gallery for more images

Quebec City Area mountain biking trails

Need to plan a trip to the area?


  • + 9
 just did a 5 day trip up there 2 weeks ago, rode Bras Du Nord for 3 days (did the Full Nielson twice), then over to Sentiers Du Moulin for 2 days. Amazing trails, and with the recently announced $5.5 million in funding for development of Bras Du Nord it's only going to get better.
  • + 4
 Went to Vallé Bras du Nord in July for 2 days and the staff did everything they could to convince me I should not do the Neilson. Sent me to easy trails with berms in every single corner. Ended up doing the Neilson South but did not have enough time left to do the North and Est. There are some really beautiful sceneries there but the trails are not the type I like at all.

Went to Sentiers du Moulin after that and had a blast. Trails are way better there.
  • + 4
 @lRaphl: agreed guy. Love Sentiers du Moulin
  • + 2
 @lRaphl: Sentier du Moulin is definitely more challenging and if you like gravity fed fun it's hard to beat, but La Boreale, in Valle Bras du Nord, is definitely what you should have rode if you like Sentier du Moulin, it's freaking awesome!!!
  • + 1
 Heading to Quebec City from Asheville, North Carolina in mid-may and hoping Bras Du Nord will be open as it appears that many of the ski resorts will not open until late may / early june.

Any advice or beta you willing to share on riding in the greater Quebec City area?
  • + 6
 There's no other place like Bras Du Nord on the eastern side of the continent. Full Nielson is truly an epic ride. I just did 3 weeks in BC followed by a week in Quebec. Bras du Nord was on par with some of the best trail networks out west. I am from Ontario so I am not biased either way.
  • + 6
 Hello Ontario? Quebec is kicking our ass!
  • + 4
 Wow! So nice trails! And i love Quebec, i think this means i need to visit again Razz
  • + 3
 I rode there before, I feel like they nailed the mood of this place so well... Good job! #ridequebeccity
  • + 1
 I did the full Neilson this summer and it was awesome hard but awesome. The only part I did not like is the first climb la cote a ti-oui a brutal rock garden jeep road that goes up for 2.5km none stop..
  • + 2
 Yeah, that climb is hell, but Neilson Est is so worth it!
  • + 2
 When is the next episode????
I had the chance to ride XC at St. Anne this year and was blown away.
Planning a trip to QC next summer Smile
  • + 3
 Best place to ride in Quebec Province!!!
  • + 2
 Hell yeah! We need more adventure/epic trails like the Neilson in Quebec.
  • + 1
 Québec Province!!!
  • + 2
 These trails look amazing! I'm already planning a world champs road trip with a lot of riding!
  • + 1
 Been there many times, and still can't wait to get back. These trails are amazing.
  • + 2
 Looks rad. I wanna go!
  • + 1
 which sector is this? looks delicious
  • + 1
 Shannahan Wink
  • + 1
 We ride here every year. It's fantastic!
  • + 1
 Looks amazing. Love the smooth granite by the river, so awesome.
  • + 2
 Pass the poutine, please
  • + 1
 Hurry up though because it's getting cold as hell already!
  • + 1
  • + 1
  • - 2
 That video had so many abrupt cuts with the riders out of frame i thought i was going to have a seizure. Terrible
  • + 4
 To each it's own style! I liked it, they nailed the mood of the place... So much better than all those repeating shots, with slowmo and creamy transition.

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