Winter isn’t over yet, and if you’re living in Canada, you’re probably feeling a little too familiar with the season’s most signature side effect: snow! We call ourselves “The Great White North” for a reason, and frosty windows and blankets of snow are unavoidable. Montreal is no exception, and with this week’s snowfall and frosty temperatures, it doesn’t look like the snow is disappearing anytime soon. If you can’t escape it, you gotta embrace it. Why not strap on a pair of snowshoes and step right into it?
Snowshoeing is becoming increasingly popular, as people are realizing that sightseeing on the the trail doesn’t stop in the summer. The many picturesque forests and mountains that surround us don’t get any less beautiful in the winter, and there’s plenty of adventure left on those trails. Montreal’s snowshoe season is from December to March, so some of the best snow days are still ahead of you. We’ve narrowed down the top 5 places to snowshoe in the city – so quit waiting for spring and show the snow some love!
Mount Royal Park
In the heart of the city, you’ll find the famous mountain that gives Montreal its name: Mount Royal. Loved by locals and tourists alike, the mountain is a haven for outdoor activities in both winter and summer. In the colder months, this means skating, sliding, cross-country skiing and of course – snowshoeing. From up on the mountain, you’ll get spectacular views of the city and get to walk among some 65 tree species, 180 bird species and 20 species of mammals. The coolest part about snowshoeing on Mount Royal? You can sign up for a guided excursion and enjoy an evening tour of the mountain’s best trails and lookout points (and a complementary hot chocolate!).
Snowshoe Rental: At Beaver Lake Pavillion – $9 for 1 hour, $15 for 3 hours
Guided Excursion: $20 (to book, visit the Park’s website)
Getting There: Mont-Royal metro station, Bus 11
If you’re in the Southwest of Montreal, this next spot might just be perfect for you. Located right outside Angrignon metro station, the park is ideal for biking and picnicking in the summer, and perfect for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. There are 2.7 km of snowshoeing trails, and roughly 20,000 snow-covered trees to feast your eyes upon. The only downside – there’s no equipment rental on site, so make sure you bring your own snowshoes!
Snowshoe Rental: None
Getting There: Angrignon metro station, Bus 110
Île-de-la-Visitation Nature Park
Next on the list is a true hidden gem. This 34-hectare park is situated along the Rivière des Prairies, and is a perfectly peaceful spot for some winter walking, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. There are over 8 km of trails for you to explore on snowshoes, and the ruins of the old mills add a historical touch to your visit. Bonus – there’s also a pretty cool tobogganing hill.
Snowshoe Rental: None
Getting There: Henri-Bourassa metro station, Bus 69 East
Bois-de-Liesse Nature Park
Before we get into the specifics of this park, hear this: it’s got a lodge with fireplaces. In fact, it has two of them. Located in the northern part of the Island of Montreal, Bois-de-Liesse Nature Park has 158 hectares to explore and two reception lodges to warm up in. You’re in for some serious snowshoeing here – the park’s got an impressive 9.6 km of trails to get lost in. But don’t worry, when you need a break from the snowshoe trekking, make your way to one of two chalets and take it easy with a snack and a hot drink.
Snowshoe Rental: $6 for 1 hour for adults (for more pricing options visit the Park’s website)
Getting There: Côte-Vertu metro station, Bus 215
The Morgan Arboretum
The last spot on our list may be the most interesting although the most remote. Situated on the western tip of the Island of Montreal, the Morgan Arboretum is a forested reserve owned by McGill University, and is a site of research and public education. In the winter, you can snowshoe through 15 km of trails and get the workout of your year. Nature is abundant, with examples of nearly all of Quebec’s trees as well as 30 species of mammals and more than 170 species of birds. With over 245 hectares of forest, a winter’s walk through this snow forest is a real adventure.
Site Access: $7
Snowshoe Rental: At the John Abbott College Recreation Centre – $11/day (get more info here)
Getting There: Best accessed by car – get the directions here
Lead Photo Source: Flickr/Lyndsay Esson