Explore Montreal’s large nature parks

These eight parks offer families a chance to discover wildlife, cycle on trails, rent watercraft or play at a beach

Explore Montreal's large nature parks

Photo credit: Christine Latreille

This past year, Montrealers said it loud and clear — we love our parks and green spaces. If you haven’t had the chance to explore the nature parks that dot Montreal, this summer is a great opportunity to do so. From Cap-Saint-Jacques in the west to Pointe­-aux-­Prairies in the east, Montreal’s network of large nature parks offers 1,686 hectares of natural space — right on the island.

All of the eight nature parks are accessible by public transportation and offer an opportunity to discover wildlife, take an invigorating breath of fresh air, and enjoy rejuvenating time in the outdoors. Some of the parks even offer guided walks, watercraft rentals, and beaches where you can chill out.

The parks are listed below with a brief description of each, and you can click here to find more information and up-to-date COVID-19 restrictions.

Anse-à-l’Orme
21335 Gouin Blvd. W., Pierrefonds
This small waterfront park is located directly on Lake of Two Mountains and has great views of Oka and Deux-Montagnes. The winds make this a popular spot for windsurfers and kitesurfers, which can be fun to watch while enjoying a picnic.

Cap-Saint-Jacques
Main visitor centre: 20099 Gouin Blvd. W., Pierrefonds
Beach access: 21115 Gouin Blvd., W.,  Pierrefonds
At 330 hectares, this is currently Montreal’s largest park. Visitors can explore 16 kms of walking trails, picnic areas, a working ecological farm, cool off at the beach, rent watercraft, visit the farmers’ market, a mini farm, try their hand at fishing, or bike along eight kms of trails. NEW for 2021: Once the beach opens for the season in mid-June, a canteen will be on site offering sandwiches, salads, snacks, cold drinks, and ice cream.

 

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Bois-de-l’Île-Bizard
2115 chemin du Bord-du-Lac, ‘Île-Bizard
Find spectacular views at this park as well as boardwalks through a marsh with diverse wildlife, 9.5 kms of hiking trails and 10 kms or bike paths, a small supervised beach, and boat-launching access. Note that some trails are currently closed as parts of the boardwalk are rebuilt.

 

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Bois-de-Liesse
3555 Douglas-B.-Floreani Rd., Saint-Laurent
Trails at this large park meander through a forest of black maples, high above the forest floor on an elevated boardwalk, along a Japanese walkway, and past fields of wildflowers. There are picnic areas near both visitor centres, and you can walk or jog along 13 kms of hiking trails and bring your bikes for the eight kms of bike paths. Keep an eye out for the forest’s owls and pileated woodpeckers who peer down at you from above.

Bois-de-Saraguay
Just off of Gouin Blvd. W. The entrance is at the corner of Joseph-Saucier and Jean-Bourdon Avenues.
The smallest of the nature parks, this forest is considered to be Montreal’s oldest. While walking on the 1.8 km loop you can view 35 species of trees, 45 types of shrubs, 275 species of herbaceous plants, and 80 species of birds. Note that bikes are forbidden.

l’Île-de-la-Visitation
2425 Gouin Blvd. E. Montreal
With fabulous views of the Rivière des Prairies, this 34-hectare nature park is home to a variety of birds and aquatic wildlife, and offers 8.8 kms of hiking trails and 3.6 kms of bike paths. Visit the historic Maison du Pressoir and the remains of the old mill which date back to the 1700s, read the information signs, and watch the water rushing under your feet. You can also see the large cross dedicated to the French missionary Nicolas Viel, and gape at the Hydro dam with its cool waterfall.

 

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Ruisseau-de Montigny
7099-7121 Maurice-Duplessis Blvd., Montreal. (West of Louis-Hippolyte-Lafontaine Blvd., between Gouin and Henri-Bourassa.) This three-km linear park in Montreal’s northeast follows a picturesque waterway complete with waterfalls. Travel along three kms of hiking and bike paths and enjoy some excellent bird-watching.

 

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Pointe-aux-Prairies
14 905 Sherbrooke St. E., Montreal
Another large park, this one boasts 261 hectares and features 15 kms of hiking trails and 14 kms of biking trails through forests and marshes. There is excellent wildlife and bird-watching — more than 180 species of birds and white-tailed deer —  and you can visit the historic Maison Bleau built in the 1850s.

All of the nature parks are free to access, however, you must still pay parking fees of $9.50 per day or $7.50 for two hours. (Only Bois-de-Saraguay and Ruisseau-de Montigny have free street parking.)

There is a special daily fee to use the Cap-Saint-Jacques Beach. The rates are:
Up to age 5: free
6 to 17: $3.50
18 to 59: $5
60 and over: $3.50

Throughout the year, some of the parks host special events such as insect exhibits, introduction to fishing, astronomy guides, and day camps. Visit the partner website of guepe.qc.ca or follow their Facebook page to find seasonal activities.

And, an important reminder when visiting our nature parks: Do your part in keeping nature safe and clean for everyone. Take nothing but photos, and leave nothing but footsteps.