on April 22, 2006
Just north of downtown Montréal is Mont Royal, an extinct volcano that towers above the rest of the island. While it’s only 232 meters (761 feet) from its base to its summit, Mont Royal is still considerably larger than all of the surrounding hills, giving it the appearance of being larger than it really is. Much of the mountain has been preserved since 1876 as a city park, while other areas provide a scenic home to two very large cemeteries. The Parc du Mont-Royal is Montréal’s finest, and largest, city park. The park was laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted, the architect who designed New York’s Central Park. Largely wooded, the slopes of the mountain provide a home for many varieties of birds and other wildlife that have adapted to living in this wilderness oasis located in the heart of a major urban area. The forested areas are beautiful in every season, from the snow-covered barrenness of winter to the bright green of new spring growth, to the explosion of red, gold, and orange when autumn’s cool weather arrives.Parc du Mont-Royal is an absolute must for any Montréal visitor’s itinerary. On a clear day, the views from the summit of the city and surrounding terrain are absolutely breathtaking. The opportunities for a variety of outdoor recreational activities are abundant. Hikers and bikers alike will find the steep approaches to the mountain’s summit an invigorating challenge. In the winter, the snow-covered trails and slopes of the park are great for sledding and cross-country skiing. For those desiring a more leisurely stroll, the Route 11 bus (connects to the Orange Metro Line at Mont-Royal) makes reaching the upper elevations of the park very easy. From the bus’s second stop in the park, near a large parking area, it’s an easy walk along a well-marked trail up a gradual incline to the Chalet, and the mountain’s summit.I visited Mont Royal on a sunny Sunday afternoon in early April. While the weather was cool, and snow still had not melted in some of the more shaded areas near the top of the mountain, it was a beautiful day to spend an afternoon on Mont Royal. We decided to take the bus up the mountain, as our feet and legs were a little weary after four heavy days of walking in Toronto and Montréal. We enjoyed a great walk along the Chemin Olmsted, pausing along the way at several lookouts to take in the amazing view of the surrounding city. One of the best viewpoints is at the Chalet, a facility at the top of the mountain offering a gift shop, snack bar, and restrooms. This is perhaps the best place to look down on downtown and Vieux-Montréal, and it’s a great place to catch your breath before heading back down the mountain.No trip to Montréal would be complete without a visit to Mont Royal. More information can be found on the park’s website.
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