Montreal has a lot of great parks. But which ones are best for cycling? Montreal is considered a bicycle-friendly city, after all. It's not just in theory. The city has many parks that amend themselves to the two-wheeled sport. By the way, if you're planning on renting a bicycle, these Montreal bike rental recommendations offer competitive rates.
From Out for Town?
Parc La Fontaine: The Rubberneck
Parc La Fontaine doesn't exactly have the longest bike path stretch in Montreal. I mean, you can cycle through the whole of it in five or ten minutes. But it's such a lovely pit stop in the heart of Montreal's Plateau neighborhood, a visual intermission between Point A and Point B offering a prime opportunity to take a break and people watch.
Parc La Fontaine is also just off the bike path on Rachel Street which is the main cycling artery in the Plateau neighborhood. The park is also a stone's throw from the best poutine in the city and Vélo Québec, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting cycling in Quebec.
Parc Mont Royal: The Quad Burn
If you're looking for something beyond the usual Sunday stroll, Parc Mont-Royal is the way to go. Featuring both challenging ascents and neck-breaking descents, make sure your gears don't slip and watch out for pedestrians. The mountain is crawling with them, especially on Sundays.
Time-wise, it could take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes to bike up the park's slope. Coming down, you've got all sorts of directional options: you could make a beeline for Outremont, the Plateau or even downtown Montreal, the latter of which is not exactly the most hospitable place for cyclists, but you get the picture.
Parc Jean-Drapeau: The Speed Demon
Half the fun is just getting to Parc Jean-Drapeau. Once there, you could spend thirty minutes just cycling non-stop through it, exploring its sights and attractions. You could also work on your speed biking the Formula 1 race track, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. But do make sure the race track is open to cyclists the day you've got your heart set on a bike ride. The track shuts down for special events, including the Canadian Grand Prix.
Lachine Canal: The Scenic Route
The Lachine Canal might not be a park in itself but it's lined with greenspace. Starting at the edge of the Old Port, it could take you anywhere from 40 minutes to over one hour to cover the 14.5-kilometre (9-mile) Lachine Canal route. Do the math and a return trip clocks in at 29 kilometres (18 miles).
You could also take a detour in Verdun to check out the rapids at Parc des Rapides. But that's off the beaten path so do consult a map of the area and plan your route before heading out. It makes for a pleasant ride since it's away from the Lachine Canal's hubbub of activity; most cyclists don't think to go this way. But should you stay the popular course, there's quite a few pit stops and attractions along the canal as you push on further west, including near 32nd Avenue in Lachine where there's a stretch of waterfront restaurants, terraces and picnic areas. Stick around. Relax. Have an ice cream.
Parc de la Visitation: The Great North
It's not exactly the most scenic route to get to Parc nature de Île-de-la-Visitation, but once you finally reach the park's bike paths, it feels worth the trouble. There's a beautiful view of the North Shore, a historical site on location and rapids to explore, AND you can unwind at Bistro des Moulins, one of the best terraces in Montreal.
Westmount Park: The Downtown Detour
What was said about Parc La Fontaine more or less applies here as well. Westmount Park is not exactly a cyclist's paradise, but it's a nice place to unwind. Consider dropping by the Westmount Greenhouses for some eye candy -once they're reopened, they've been shut down indefinitely impending renovations- and if you can handle steep slopes, then you should bike up to Summit Park.
Parc Angrignon: Off the Beaten Path
It's not centrally-located yet it's easy to get to by bike or public transit, a 10- to 15-minute subway ride from the downtown core. Parc Angrignon features 97 hectares (240 acres) of green space, wooded area, large ponds and marshes. A waterfall here, a swing set there, you could spend all day describing the charms of its waterside weeping willows and wild raspberry lined woods. A very bicycle-friendly environment, consider packing a lunch and a good book for a lengthy linger.
Bois de l'Île Bizard: The Day Trip
Located about 60-ish kilometres away from Montreal city centre, it could take a cyclist anywhere from a couple of hours to a half-day to get to Bois de l'Île Bizard. There's nothing like it in Montreal, a mix of beach, woods and marshland located on Île Bizard, an island at the northwesternmost tip of the island of Montreal.
Pack a picnic for this one and whatever you do, when you get to the boardwalk overlooking the marshland, get off your bike and walk it gently. This ensures wetland species remain as undisturbed as possible, which ultimately preserves and protects the integrity of the marshlands. Besides, you'll probably want to get off your bike anyway and take in the view. It's beautiful.