If your family doesn’t ski and has trouble finding activities to do outside during winter, this is a good year to check out what’s on offer at the city’s large nature parks.
For many years, the parks have offered cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and tobogganing but recently some of them have added kiteforce, fatbikes and dogsledding.
Kiteforce is an activity where participants use wind power to push themselves across ice or snow on skis and snowboards, while fatbikes have oversized tires that allow people to ride safely on snow.
In addition, new workshops include ice fishing and Hygge days, a Scandinavian term meaning creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with family and friends. At the parks, this translates into sitting around a fire in comfortable Adirondack chairs with blankets and people you care about. There will also be Surviving a Winter Night workshops, which teach participants how to survive a night in the forest by building shelter and starting a fire. Tickets cost $7 per person and the family package, for two adults and three children, costs $21.
Whether you want to stick with traditional activities, or bundle up and discover something new, here’s what you can find at the parks this season.
With 330 hectares of nature, Cap-Saint-Jacques is Montreal’s largest park. In addition to trail hikes and carriage rides, the park is offering dogsledding rides and families can enjoy this activity for free February 10 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Kiteforce courses will be given until April 7, weather permitting. For beginners, there will be introductory lessons on March 3 and 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Spots are limited, first come, first served. For more information, call 514-691-3314 or visit kiteforce.ca.
There will also be free ice-fishing workshops on Sundays from February 3 to February 24, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Equipment is provided.
Surviving a Winter Night at Cap-Saint-Jacques will take place on March 2 from 6:45 p.m. to 9 p.m. Reservations are mandatory, to reserve a spot call 514-280-6871.
On March 2 and 10, from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., the park will host free outdoor games and activities.
Families without cars can take advantage of a new shuttle service that leaves from Dorchester Square to Cap-Saint-Jacques. Several dates sold out quickly but additional ones have been added: Feb. 23 in the evening and Feb. 24 (the first shuttle departs at 9 a.m. and returns at 3:45 p.m., and the second departs at 9:30 a.m. and returns at 4:15 p.m.) To reserve a seat, or to get on the waiting list, call 1-866-857-6262.
Located deep within the Rivière-des-Prairies borough, the Pointe-aux-Prairies nature park offers of scenic views in the vast nature preserve, making it perfect for the family that enjoys hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country trails. The park also offers a sledding mound, fatbikes and bird watching.
Families can rent fatbikes at no cost on Feb. 9 and 16 from noon until 4 p.m.
There will be free dogsledding on March 9 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Families must reserve in advance by calling 514-280-6691.
New this year is Hygge Sundays. Sitting by the fire in comfortable Adirondack chairs with blankets, participants will discover how to relax and enjoy winter, also known as the Scandinavian way of life. This will take place every Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. until March 10 at the Heritage Visitor’s Centre.
Connecting D.D.O., Dorval and Montreal, the Bois-de-Liesse park offers spectacular views and a diverse array of wildlife. Families can enjoy nature walks, snowshoeing, cross-country ski trails, a sledding mound and more.
Hygge Saturdays will take place Feb. 9 & 23 and March 2 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Chalet des Champs.
There will be evening educational workshops called Stroll by Starlight on Feb. 9 from 6:45 p.m. to 9 p.m. Participants will observe and learn about nature and animals native to this park. Reserve a spot by calling 514-280-6729.
For more information on all of Montreal’s nature parks, visit parcs-nature.com.