From mid-September to early November in Montreal, the city's landscape changes from summer green to the bronze-red hues of oak trees and the fiery orange of sumacs. While the exact timing of peak colors varies from year to year, the trees in Montreal usually start changing color in mid-September and reach their peak at the beginning of October. If you've missed the fall colors in the earlier parts of Quebec, then Montreal is one of the last opportunities in the province. Always check local sites for the most up-to-date reports on fall foliage.
While you could pick any city park to get an eye full, these Montreal fall foliage destinations are particularly picturesque. From otherworldly islands to conveniently located city parks, there are plenty of options to get the most out of the fall season in Montreal.
Mount Royal Park
Mount Royal Park—which is home to the mountain that the city of Montreal is named after—is one of the top destinations to visit in the city at any time of year. In the fall, however, this should be one of the top places on your travel list. This accessible park is located immediately west of downtown Montreal and can be reached on foot, bike, or via public transit.
Within the park, the Mount Royal Cemetery might be the final resting place of loved ones, but it's still teeming with other life. Its macabre facade doubles as an arboretum of rare tree species that include Japanese lilacs, crabapple trees, Kentucky coffee trees, and chestnut trees. You might even spot a hawk or one of the other 145 migrating birds that populate the area. It's simply one of the most beautiful places in Montreal, and even more so in the fall.
Montreal Botanical Garden
Even though admission to these grounds isn't free, the Montreal Botanical Garden gives you a bang for your buck when you visit in the fall since the hugely popular Gardens of Light festival coincides with Montreal's autumn colors. The lanterns of the festival are best viewed at sundown, so consider dropping by the garden's arboretum in the late afternoon for a peaceful stroll before making your way to the main attraction in the Chinese Garden.
You can reach the Botanical Garden by taking Line 1 of the Montreal metro to the Pie IX stop. Admission starts at 21 Canadian dollars for adults, or about $16, with discounts available for seniors, children, students, and Quebec residents.
If you're walking in these 400 acres of old-growth hardwood and silver birch forests surrounded by picturesque streams, don't be surprised if you run into a fox while meandering along Bois-de-Liesse Park's trails. This out-of-the-way park is one of Montreal's best-kept secrets, located a bit outside of the city center not far from the airport. The easiest way to get there is by car, as it's only a 20-minute drive from downtown Montreal. If you have a bike, you could also take a scenic ride along the Prairies River until you reach the park entrance.
A forest reserve on the western tip of the island of Montreal, Morgan Arboretum is home to 330 horticultural species—40 of which are indigenous to Canada—all on protected land as part of McGill University's Macdonald Campus.
The view come leaf-peeping season is everything you would want on an autumn's day excursion in the woods. The arboretum itself is used for teaching, research, and everyday public enjoyment with 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) of walking trails. Note that a modest admission fee is required to gain access to the grounds and the proceeds are used for preserving the arboretum.
For anyone's first time in Montreal, the Old Port is an obligatory stop. It's one of the most important landmarks in the city and sits on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River, making it one of the most picturesque places in the city as well as one of the most historic. The fall foliage colors are in full bloom usually by late September and into the beginning of October, with the riverbank on one side and the skyscrapers of downtown Montreal on the other.
Just head for Marche Bonsecours and you'll get the lay of the land and catch a view of the waterfront and the Clock Tower, but try to arrive earlier in the day when there are fewer crowds. This is one of Montreal's most popular attractions and you'll enjoy it much more without the hoards of people.
Floralies Gardens' cotton ball treetops and weeping willows are a sight to behold in any season, but there's no better time to go than during Quebec's peak fall foliage. The gardens and public art pepper the grounds of Parc Jean-Drapeau, located on Saint Helen's Island just across from the Old Port (the island is accessible by metro, ferry, or by walking or biking across one of the bridges).
Apart from the gardens, there are also 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) of roads and trails to explore in the park, best enjoyed by hiking or by bike. Walk around the warm colors of autumn while keeping an eye out for animals foraging and burrowing in preparation for winter.
Parc Angrignon is gorgeous; it's got waterfalls and streams, weeping willows, ponds, and hidden paths lined by berries, and it's conveniently located in the southwest part of the city where no car is necessary. Just hop on the metro and get off at Angrignon, the last station on the western end of Line 1, which is only a 10-minute subway ride from downtown Montreal, and boom, you're there. Within two minutes of exiting the station, you forget you're in a city altogether. At a gentle, exploratory pace, you could spend an afternoon walking through this peaceful park. It's best enjoyed by packing a picnic to spend the afternoon under the brightly colored trees and away from the chaos of the city.
Bois de l'Île Bizard
Best reached by car or by bicycle, Bois de l'Île Bizard is about as far removed from the city center as you can get while still remaining within city limits. It's on the northwestern island and Montreal borough, Île Bizard. Driving is the easiest way to reach the island since it's about 40 minutes away from downtown by car and public transit is limited. However, for those who can make the journey, it's well worth the investment. There's a beautiful eeriness to the marsh grounds as you walk its lengthy boardwalks and the isolated paths of the surrounding woods that you can't experience in Montreal's other parks.