Finding Fall, Part 3: Meet Montreal

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Intro: So I’m incredibly excited to introduce this new series, highlighting some known and lesser-known (but equally beloved) Canadian trails. Earlier this year, I partnered with MEC to ask trail runners across Canada what their favourite trails were. I was blown away by how passionate everyone was about “their” trail, and many of them were ones I’d never heard of before. It got me thinking about what makes a trail special. Is it because it’s the “old faithful” route we run twice a week? Is it our “love to hate” route with that one big climb in the middle that we just won’t let beat us? Or is it a bucket list trail that we spent years lusting after before we ever got to explore it?

In this series, I’m going to explore some of those trails and what makes them special…and what better time to do it than in the fall, as the leaves turn golden and the trails are at their very best?

**If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, start with those!

Still with me? Yay! Here we go. Part 3.

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The Details:  

Where: Mont-Royal, Montreal - aka a slice of trail running heaven in an otherwise urban city.

When: year-round

Distance: Chemin Olstead is a 6.5km loop, plus lots of add-on options

Time: how good is your cardio?

Terrain: Check out some trail options here. There is a nice mix of paved, gravel, and dirt trails to explore, plus the daunting Olstead stairs if you want a heart rate spike.

Pro Tip: Fall is the best time of year to explore this park, although in the winter you can run the trails (with micro spikes), and also add in some crazy-carpet or ice skating fun at the top.

Beloved By:

Jee Lam (@thejeelam). A Vancouver transplant now happily settled in Montreal, Jee is a professional ballet dancer and former Grouse Grind enthusiast, and the lush parks of Mont Royal have become her perfect urban trail escape. Without a car, options to escape into nature are more limited, so the bike ride to and from the park serves as a bonus workout.

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The Route:

Mont Royal is a forest oasis in a concrete jungle. Reminiscent of Vancouver’s Stanley Park, Mont Royal offers lush, wooded paths that switchback their way uphill before finally topping out with amazing view of the city below. For those lacking the vehicle access needed to head to parks outside the city centre (Mount Orford, for example, is a popular nearby running destination, although it is over an hour’s drive from Montreal), it offers a feasible transit/bike friendly alternative.

 Taking in the view from the top.

Taking in the view from the top.

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Montreal’s winters are long and cold, and locals are clearly relishing the lingering warmth of fall while it lasts.

 Circumnavigating Beaver Lake. In the winter, you can take a shortcut and ice skate across it!

Circumnavigating Beaver Lake. In the winter, you can take a shortcut and ice skate across it!

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While the paved paths are often quite busy with tourists and exercisers of varying abilities, it becomes peaceful very quickly once you veer off into the maze of trails.

 And sometimes, all we need is a little dose of tree therapy to make things right with the world again.

And sometimes, all we need is a little dose of tree therapy to make things right with the world again.

Gear Picks:

Jee rocked her MEC Mission Possible Zip Top, as well her MEC Mercury Thermal Tights. ...perfect for blocking that fall chill in the air.

Next Up:

I’m heading back to the west coast, hunting for those fall leaves. Stay tuned for Part 4/4, coming shortly!

Hilary MathesonComment