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In & Around /Volume 1 /Issue 32

August 11, 2016
This Week:
The “White Trails” on Mount Royal
Parc National de la Yamaska in Roxton Pond

IN: Parc du Mont-Royal’s “White Trails”

I’m sure you all know our famous Parc du Mont-Royal, and you may or may not frequent our mid-city beautiful behemoth from time to time. However, I wanted to share a little hike that we’ve done a few times on the East (as far as Mtl directions are concerned) flank of the mountain – I call them the “White Trails” of Mount Royal. I know I’ll be writing about some of the other 100 things to do on Mount Royal in future issues, so I’ll skip over those for now and just point you in the direction of this hike. A hike that will transport you to the wilds of the Monteregian hills, right in the heart of the city. Begin the hike at the recently redone Sir George-Étienne Cartier monument (i.e. Tams Tams HQ), and literally walk straight up the mountain. You’ll cross over some lovely fields, maybe see some LARPing, some slacklining and some lounging, then go ahead and cross right over the Ch. Olmstead and keep following the unmarked trails up into the wilds. Stick to the paths snaking up and around the forest away from Ch. Olmstead and you’ll pop out at the Belvèdere Camilien Houde for a great view of the Big O, Jacques Cartier bridge and all points east-ish. We continued up and along the Sentier de l’Escarpement for more views and wild hiking and then looped on back. All in all, the four of us (including a baby on my back, and a toddler) hiked for about 2.5 hours and probably covered about 4 km. Our path is highlighted in light blue on the map below. It really is surprising & refreshing to be able to get so engulfed in the woods, right in our backyard.

Mont Royal

The Good: 

  1. Wild. It honestly feels like you have escaped the city by a few hundred kilometres and are hiking a wild mountain in the surrounding ranges.
  2. Great mix of terrain. You’ll hit grassy plateaus, beautifully constructed bridges and staircases, rugged root-heavy dirt paths and a few natural rock steps.
  3. Getting there is the easiest thing to do. There are Métro stops, bus stops, Bixi stands, car parking, etc all right there on the mountain. It’s the easiest outdoors experience to get to in Montréal.

The Bad:

  1. If you don’t like crowds and drums, and you happen to go on Sunday, there will be throngs, I mean throngs of people there. If that’s not your style, well, that won’t be fun for you. 
  2. I know we’re right in the middle of a giant metropolis, but I’d love to see less trash strewn about. I don’t know what possesses some people to treat earth like their garbage bin.
  3. There are a few downhills that could cause some slips if you don’t have the proper shoes on, and/or a walking stick. I’d recommend bringing both.

The Useful:

  1. Parc du Mont Royal, 1260 Chemin Remembrance (although we parked on Parc Avenue just south of Ave Mont Royal), 514-843-8240.
  2. Official City Website (and link to a PDF map).
  3. Link to “Les amis de la montagne” website.

Pro Tip:

  • Since you will have worked your butt off for a few hours, go ahead and celebrate with an ice cream cone at La Diperie. As I understand it, this place is THE place to be for ice cream in Montréal, and for good reason. Soft ice cream with 20+ chocolate dip flavours and 20+ topping options. It’s like 1980’s DQ on steroids. 

AROUND: Roxton Pond’s Parc National de la Yamaska

This SÉPAQ park just past Granby is one of the gentler parks in the SÉPAQ network but certainly worth a visit, for a day or a whole weekend I’d say. Due to its “gentler” nature, it is more family focused than others and should be considered a good outdoors option for families of all sizes. We opted for a shorter walk in the woods (I wouldn’t call what we did a “hike”) and lots of time on the beach. Right from the Welcome Centre, we headed out on a mix of the Grand-Tour, Pinède, Digue and Forestière trails. Although the trails were pretty much all flat with a variety of forest and terrains, we still got nice and hot from the sun out there. Perfect then that we finished up back at the Welcome Centre, changed into our trunks and hit the beach! We chose to lounge about and build sand castles, but you can rent myriad floating systems for your watery pleasure – pedalos, kayaks, canoes, SUPs, etc. The beach was great, the water had the perfect temperature and it wasn’t too busy either. Our next visit will surely include biking along the many bike trails swooping in and out of the park, with connections to neighbouring villages and sights. Look for that write up next summer (Volume 2) once our wee one is old enough to ride. 

Parc de la Yamaska

The Good:

  1. This park is suitable for everyone and anyone. There are myriad activities to partake in and the park is only so vast. Meaning that some of you can do X activity while others do Y activity and you’d never be that far from one another.
  2. They’ve installed a slew of water games for kids this summer in a new waterpark right by the beach.
  3. There are lifeguards at the beach. While that’s unimportant to some I know those of you with young’uns will be happy to hear.

The Bad:

  1. As you know I love getting outside for free. While not expensive (under $10 per adult), and supporting a good organization, I still prefer free.
  2. There is no big mountain challenge here so if you’re looking for some real leg burn, I don’t think you’ll find it. 
  3. Some of the trails are quite exposed so on a hot, sunny day, you’ll come out quite crispy if you don’t sunscreen up!

The Useful:

Pro Tip:

  • If you’d like to initiate yourself or your family into camping but want to do so with some baby steps, check out the accommodations offerings at the Park. You can go full camping, Huttopia style or even a rustic cabin. A great way to introduce your family into camping and thriving on being outside.

“Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.”
– Albert Einstein | b.1879 | German-born Theoretical Physicist

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