In February, a group of travelers will venture to Quebec City for the Winter Carnival, leaving in a caravan from Portage through the logging roads of the North Woods.

The group is following in the tracks of a caravan that started in 1957, partly as an effort to drum up interest in cross-border trade and a highway to Quebec straight west out of Ashland. The caravan was discontinued in 1968, but it was revived in 2002 and has been continuing since then, in the past few years with affordable gas prices and a favorable Canadian exchange rate.

“It’s such a really great winter getaway,” said Sarah Brooks, who spearheaded the revival of the caravan when she was a member of the Ashland Rotary Club. “You’re transported into another world. You’re in the woods, and then all of a sudden, you see the steeple in Saint Pamphile. And Quebec City is absolutely beautiful.”

Brooks’ father, the late Ashland businessman and theatre owner Charles Brooks, helped start the caravan, and today she’s a chief promoter of the trip through the Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce.

More than 200 people joined the early trips, including state Sen. John Reed, an Aroostook County potato farmer who as governor in 1959 authorized a study of a potential highway, which unlike the recent East-West highway idea would have connected to Quebec from Aroostook County.

The caravan’s trip from Portage heads mostly due west to Quebec City through the network of private logging roads over about 180 miles, a drive that normally is about 230 miles when going from Portage north through Fort Kent and New Brunswick and then southeast to Quebec City.

The trips were and still are a major undertaking, requiring coordination with logging trucks and the help of J.D. Irving, the state’s largest forestland owner, which plows the path the caravan follows.

“In the 50s, they persevered at getting through, and no matter what the weather was, they kept going,” Brooks said.

The trip starts with breakfast at 6 a.m. Friday, Feb. 10, at Dean’s Motor Lodge in Portage, with each car departing at 7 a.m., equipped with a radio from Aroostook Technologies and setting off on a ride that only some people in the forestry industry take.

One year, the late University of Maine at Presque Isle geologist Bill Forbes and late photojournalist Oscar Nelder joined the caravan and offered on the radio “the best college course on the geography and the geology of the North Maine Woods, the different gullies, the different time periods and the Laurentian Mountains,” Brooks said. “You never know what you’re going to have. One year, a couple got married in Clayton Lake.”

The trip through the North Woods ends in Saint Pamphile, where the caravan crosses a border that’s usually only frequented by logging trucks, and it continues onto Levi, Quebec, to catch a ferry across the Saint Lawrence River to Quebec City, arriving at about 2 p.m. during the carnival.

That celebration, which runs from Jan. 27 to Feb. 12, often coincides with peak winter in an old city whose denizens spend a lot of time outside, a part of the trip Brooks relishes.

“Almost any time of the day or night, you will see Sarah walking somewhere,” said Theresa Fowler, executive director of the Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce.

The trip is scheduled for the weekend of Feb. 10-12 and costs $30 per person, including the pass to the Quebec Winter Carnival. Participants are responsible for their own accommodations in Quebec City as well as the trip home. Brooks often stays in the city a few more days on her own.