IN: Montréal’s Parc-nature de l’Île-de-la-Visitation
It’s been said many times before, but this really is one of Montréal’s hidden gems. Birds galore, a hydro dam waterfall and historical buildings complement the natural beauty of this park. If you want to get back in touch with our surrounding waterways, take a nice stroll along the river and relax with a packed-in picnic lunch, then the Parc-nature de l’Île-de-la-Visitation is perfect for you. While activities & beauty abound all year round, at this time of year you’ll find lots of space, beautiful colours and calming nature enveloping you as you meander along the 9km of walking trails. One spot you absolutely cannot miss is the viewpoint over the hydro dam. You are (almost) literally standing over the waterfalls of the dam and it’s pretty awesome. Also, feel free to bring a frisbee while you’re at it for a little mid-walk break – trust me, you’ll be glad you did!
- Since you’re still on the island, public transit is a breeze.
- Everywhere in the park, you are always “oh-so-close” to the water and, well, that’s cool.
- There are a couple of footbridges to connect you from the mainland to the island and vice versa – kind of nice to see the river from different viewpoints.
- When in the eastern reaches of the park, it can feel a little less “wild”.
- Heads up for rollerbladers and cyclists – the park is part of a much larger network and you can get some speedsters in there.
- Perhaps it’s unrealistic with the dam so close by but I’d love to rent, and then drop a kayak in the water here.
- Parc-nature de l’Île-de-la-Visitation, 2425 boul. Gouin Est, 514-280-6733.
- Official Website (and a direct link to the very good trailmap).
- The nearby Paroisse La Visitation-de-la-Bienheureuse-Vierge-Marie is the oldest Catholic church in Montréal (built of fieldstone circa 1750).
- Avoid paying for parking and just poke around the neighbourhood to find a free spot to park on the street.
AROUND: Saint-Jean-de-Matha’s Parc Régional des Chutes Monte-à-Peine-et-des-Dalles
This is your last weekend to visit the (very long windedly named) Parc Régional des Chutes Monte-à-Peine-et-des-Dalles as it will close up until next Spring this coming Sunday at 6:00pm. With the fall colours hitting their peak right about now, this should be a stellar weekend to visit the park as well. Saturday looks downright glorious (temps in the teens with nothin’ but sun!), while Sunday looks alright in the AM, turning a little nasty in the PM so I would suggest getting out here Saturday, bright and early for the crisp autumn glory. We chose the St-Jean-de-Matha entrance (the park is managed by the 3 municipalities that its 300 hectares cover) and I’d recommend it without hesitation. The trail combo we chose (blend of trails 1, 2 & 8) brought us right out onto a beautiful bridge that spans the Rivière l’Assomption to give you a glorious panoramic of the very impressive Chute Monte-à-Peine. What a great way to start your hike! We then continued up river along the path for more glorious views, rushing river sounds, wonderful forests and finally to the next waterfall, Chute Desjardins. This second waterfall is smaller, calmer and and a wonderful spot to hop onto trail #2. There are 18km of trails here so you have your choice when it comes to what trail combo you choose. Although trail #8 is short, I recommend it for its outlet that plops you right into the river (if you so choose). As well, for you francophone television buffs out there, this area was used for the filming of «Les Belles Histoires des pays d’en haut» in the 1960’s… so keep your eye out for Pit Caribou!
- The park is close to Montréal and its trails are very well maintained – two things that make it great for kids I’d say!
- Since there are three entry points, each with a bathroom & ample parking, you won’t find any aggravation when it comes to parking and setting out quickly.
- Toe-dipping opportunities are endless as you will find yourself riverside more often than not.
- The trail we chose was, for the most part, pretty flat, along the river, so we didn’t get much leg burn (some might see that as a Good actually 🙂
- You’ll find a few risky approaches to some riverside rapids – heads up with kids!
- At $7.50/adults, a car full of boundless adults will set you back ~ $30.00.
- Parc Régional des Chutes Monte-à-Peine-et-des-Dalles, 440 Rang Sainte Louise O, 1-450-883-6060.
- Official Website (and direct link to the trailmap).
- Although you might be chilly, there are a plethora of places to take a dip. If not this weekend, then make a mental note of the ones you love for when you return next summer.
- If you’re into it, the park also has 6 geocaching locations throughout. So head to your favourite Geocaching website, or maybe this one, and search away!
“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson | b. 1850 | Scottish Novelist