New winter activities being offered at Montreal parks

From free ski and snowshoe rentals for kids to new activities at Jean Drapeau Park, the city is making sure families have many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors

New winter activities at Montreal parks
Parc Jean-Drapeau

Photo credit: Société du parc Jean-Drapeau – Gilles Proulx

This winter, the City of Montreal wants families to get outside, enjoy the brisk air, and stay active by taking advantage of the sports activities available throughout its network of large parks.

At a late November press conference, Mayor Valérie Plante announced new initiatives aimed at encouraging children, adults, and families to head outside.

To get everyone’s heart pumping, GUEPE (an educational nature organization) will offer cross-country ski, snowshoe, and sledding equipment rentals at four of the city’s nature parks: Cap-St. Jacques, Bois-de-Liesse (des Champs sector), l’Île-de-la-Visitation and Pointe-aux-Prairie (Héritage sector).

Equipment rental will be available seven days a week as of Dec. 19. Reservation and payment must be done online and rental pick up will take place outdoors. Take care to book at the desired park as reservations are not transferable.

As an added bonus this season, skis and snowshoes will be available free of charge to children 17 and under.

With nature parks located across the island of Montreal, from western Pierrefonds to the eastern section of Pointe-aux-Trembles, you can take your pick and see which park has your preferred activity. Entrance to all the nature parks is free, but you will have to pay for parking ($9.50 for the day, $7.50 for two hours, payable by cash or credit card). The visitor centres aren’t open but bathroom facilities will be available.

CAP-SAINT-JACQUES PARK Pierrefonds

With an area of 330 hectares, Cap-Saint-Jacques is the city’s biggest park and offers access to a diverse lineup of activities through its fields and forests. Aim to spend a few hours at this park: zip down the tobogganing hill and explore many kilometres of hiking trails or go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or fat biking.

Hours: Open every day from sunrise to sunset

Address: 20099 Gouin Blvd. W, H9K 1C6

Accessible by public transit: Yes (Bus #68)

Phone number: 514-280-6871

BOIS-DE-LIESSE PARK (des Champs sector) Pierrefonds/St. Laurent

New winter activities at Montreal parks
Photo credit: Christine Latreille

This park features a century-old forest, elevated boardwalks through the tree canopy, easy walking trails, and a diverse assortment of animal and plant life. The cross-country skiing trails span nine kilometres with another nine kilometres for snowshoeing as well as two sledding hills (located near the Douglas-B.-Floreani St. entrance.)

Hours: Open every day from sunrise to sunset

Address: 9432 Gouin Blvd. W, H8Y 1T4 or 3555 Douglas-B.-Floreani St., H4S 1Y6. Equipment rental pick up will be at the Secteur des Champs

Accessible by public transit: Yes (Bus #69 and #68 for Pierrefonds entrance, #175 or 215 for St. Laurent entrance)

Phone number: 514-280-6729 or 514-280-6678

ÎLE-DE-LA-VISITATION PARK Ahuntsic-Cartierville

This historic nature park offers cross-country skiing, hiking, and snowshoeing with trails that wind along Rivière des Prairies, through the woods, and near the impressive Hydro Quebec dam.

Hours: Open every day from sunrise to sunset

Address: 2425 Gouin Blvd. E, H2B 1X7

Accessible by public transit: Yes (Bus #69)

Phone number: 514-280-6733

POINTE-AUX-PRAIRIES PARK (Héritage sector) Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles

Right on the eastern tip of the island, this park is known for its ecosystems, including forest, wetland and glades. It’s also a great spot for bird watching and other animal sightings. There are kilometres of cross-country ski and snowshoe trails, and toboggans and carpet sleds are available for rent.

Hours: Open every day from sunrise to sunset

Address: 14905 Sherbrooke St. E, H1A 3X1

Accessible by public transit: Yes (Bus #186)

Phone number: 514-280-6691

JEAN-DRAPEAU PARK – something for all ages

new-winter-activities-at-montreal-parks
Photo credit: Société du parc Jean-Drapeau – Gilles Proulx

Mayor Plante also announced that all the city’s major parks will have trails for cross-country skiing, hiking, and snowshoeing, as well as activities at Île Notre-Dame’s Jean-Drapeau Park all winter long.

“This winter there will be cross-country skiing as well as fat bike and snowshoeing trails,” said Véronique Caissie, social media and media relations advisor, Société du parc Jean-Drapeau. “We will also have a [refrigerated] ice-skating ring and people will be able to slide freely down the Espace 67 hill. All these activities will be free for people with their own equipment. Others will be able to rent on site.”

For those wishing for some quiet time observing nature, bird feeders will be installed in the woods near the Aquatic Complex.

Bathrooms will be available at all times, while the availability of other services like food, lockers, warming areas and the rental services might change depending on the evolution of the pandemic. “We invite everybody to visit our website before coming to the park. All updates on the activities and services availability will be posted there,” Caissie said.

Hours: Hours and info for each activity are posted on the park’s website parcjeandrapeau.com (winter activities)

Address: 67 Macdonald, Montreal, H3C 6A3

Accessible by public transit: Yes (Jean-Drapeau metro station)

Phone number: 514-977-9328

Play in Montreal’s other large parks

The mayor noted that with 20 large parks on the territory of Montreal, there is room for people to spread out in a safe manner, and that all the major parks will have additional hiking trails. “The parks will all offer different types of activities. It may be skiing or snowshoeing,” she said. “So take the time to discover a different one.”

Other locations that families might enjoy include Angrignon Park, which is easily accessible by metro; Montreal’s iconic Mount-Royal Park with its skating rink, sledding hill, bird-watching, cross-country ski lessons, and hiking trails; or La Fontaine Park where two cross-country ski trails will once again be offered as well as the traditional outdoor skating rinks.

For free sledding, head further west and visit Grovehill Park in Lachine or Ignace-Bourget Park in the Sud-Ouest borough.

For more information on Montreal’s large parks, visit the city’s website at montreal.ca where you can check snow conditions before heading out. Because of the ever-evolving situation and restrictions surrounding activities and public health, it’s also a good idea to call ahead or follow the city’s social media pages for up-to-date information.

Click here to read about new sledding hills located at Ignace-Bourget Park.