I don’t know about you, but one of the things that make me the happiest in life is getting out of town every once in a while to enjoy nature. During the week, we accumulate a lot of stress due to metro malfunctions or work delays. Thus it becomes important to break away from the hectic life and forget all this stress and tension. Don’t get me wrong! Love the city… I grew up there! That’s also why I’ve learned to find ways to be outdoors while in the city (or nearly).
In Montreal, it is quite possible to do a variety of activities that will make you feel like you are not in the city. The goal here is to offer you outdoor activities that can be accessed by public transport, or even by bike! So I suggest three great places in Montreal to explore when you want to get away from it all!
In my opinion, Mount Royal Park is one of the best places for outdoor picnics. It is just a few minutes’ walk from the Guy-Concordia, Côte-des-Neiges and Mont-Royal stations. You can do all kinds of outdoor activities here without leaving the city. The park has hiking and cross-country skiing trails. You can also go snowshoeing here in winter. Don’t worry if you don’t have any equipment: you can rent it on site!
I don’t guarantee that you will not cross an orange cone on your way, but you will definitely find beautiful paths and diverse animals.
On the other hand, if, like me, you like getting close to water to recharge your batteries, I can offer you…
Built in 1825 to bypass Lachine Rapids and enhance freight transportation, the Lachine Canal was deactivated in 1970. It then opened its doors to recreational boating in 2002.
Here, it’s impossible to forget we’re in town: we’re completely surrounded by condos in the St-Henri and Griffintown neighborhoods. At least, the advantage is that you can get there by metro via Lionel-Groulx station. Then just walk for a few minutes and you can rent a kayak, canoe, pedal boat, paddleboard or even an electric boat! You can also stay at one of the ponds and do sport fishing or other activities.
The canal also has one of the most beautiful bike lanes in Canada. It introduces a 14 km trail into town and crosses several small parks. Favorites are the Parc de l’Ancienne-cour-de-tirage, which hosts the Guinguette du Sud-Ouest in summer, and the Parc René-Lévesque where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the sailboat on the Saint Lawrence River.
This brings me to the last place I would like to introduce to you…
Saint Lawrence River
The island of Montreal is completely surrounded by the Saint Lawrence River. However, I will focus on the river section of Verdun and La Salle, as I would like to offer you options close to the metro network. You can get to these places by Lasalle, De l’Eglise and even Verdun stations. As with the Lachine Canal, you can rent kayaks and paddleboards. You can then go to the middle of the river with the boat of your choice and you will hear nothing but wind, water and fish jumping from time to time. What could be more relaxing?
The park also has a boardwalk near the water that is slightly lower in height than the rest of the park (and city). So you can really feel there as if you weren’t even close to the metro! The waterfront park is located on the Route Verte, a bike path that connects the entire province: from Gaspésie to Abitibi-Témiscamingue.
One of the aspects I like the most here is the possibility of swimming. Aside from the urban Verdun Beach, you can always take advantage of one of the piers installed along the promenade for a swim, such as the Quai de la Tortue. If you continue towards the west of the island, you will also find the Parc des Rapides. You can smell the wild rose bushes growing there, while listening to the powerful sound of Lachen cliffs. For me, it is a meditative experience.
If you are more athletic[ve]You can even surf here… Yes, surfer! La Vague à Guy is an eternal wave at the cliffs of Lachine that allows you to surf, kayak or paddleboard. It is highly recommended to take a river surfing lesson before venturing there, even if you are an expert[e] Surfing in the ocean.
These other two parks are not accessible by metro, but they can make for a great outdoor experience if you go there by bike.
Sépaq Park where you can explore Quebec’s wildlife, swim, camp, hunt and do a host of other outdoor activities. It takes about an hour and 20 to get there by bike from the city center.
Like the Parc des Îles de Boucherville, RécréoParc offers the possibility of various water sports, camping and hiking. Bonus: beautiful sunsets that can be seen from the Seaway bike path past Lachine Rapids. It takes an hour and 15 minutes to get there by bike from the city centre.
I hope that from now on, you will make use of these few good plans to escape from your studies and enjoy outdoor activities. You’ll be able to finish the lesson at 4pm, and be in the kayak at 4:30pm!