No need to leave the city to experience the joys of winter. Montréal has over 100 km of marked trails that let you glide across vast open spaces that offer unsuspected beauty. The following trails are among our favourites. They provide varying degrees of difficulty, depending on your experience.
Before you set out, be sure to view the snow conditions on trails nearest you and in Montréal’s nature parks.
Closer to home
The advantage of cross-country skiing is that it can be practiced anywhere with sufficient snow cover. Don’t have time to leave the city? You can just as easily enjoy winter while staying close to home. And don’t be shy to bring your skis to a local park, which you can do as often as you like.
Cross-country ski trails for all levels
Parc Jarry’s 2.1-km trail is the perfect place for families and beginners. Speaking of first experiences, the Parc-nature du Bois-de-Liesse, with its 9-km wooded cross-country ski trail, is ideal for beginners. Located between the Viau and Pie-IX metro stations, Parc Maisonneuve features a peaceful cross-country ski trail that’s just right for those who want to perfect their technique. Parc La Fontaine offers two trails, with a total length of 3.9 km, running through the western portion of the park.
At parc Jean-Drapeau, space for beginner skiers is provided at Espace 67 (on Île Sainte-Hélène). Free beginners’ classes are available on site. A second 5-km trail is located on Île Notre-Dame.
Nature bursting with life, even in winter
Access to the outdoor gardens of the Jardin botanique is free. Take advantage of the many walking and cross-country skiing trails.
At the far end of the island, the Parc-nature de la Pointe-aux-Prairies is a popular draw with wildlife observers. The park features 11 km of trails, and if you’re lucky you might spot a white-tailed deer. Further west, the Parc-nature du Bois-de-l’Île-Bizard is teeming with birds of different species that perch on the feeders hung along the trail. The 14 km of marked trails at Parc-nature du Cap-Saint-Jacques are perfectly suited to family outings. It offers magnificent water views. Along the way, children and adults alike can observe the tracks left by the various animals that call the park home.
Discovering the river and its hidden corners
Spanning Lachine, LaSalle, the Sud-Ouest and Verdun, the 31.8 km of cross-country ski trails that make up the Grand Sud-Ouest offer spectacular views of the frozen river.
A true open-air museum, Parc René-Lévesque is sure to leave art lovers awestruck. Wind your way along the park’s 4 km of trails while admiring contemporary sculptures created by renowned artists.
For a lunar atmosphere, head to the marked trails at Parc Frédéric-Back. Flat and almost totally denuded of trees, this park offers a landscape that stretches as far as the eye can see. Sheltered from the city lights, it is one of the best places in Montréal to gaze up at the night sky.
Giving it all you have
Montréal’s iconic Parc du Mont-Royal has the advantage of offering a significant slope. The park’s 22 km of marked trails give intermediate cross-country skiers a chance to test their limits. Do you work downtown? Take advantage of the nearness of the mountain to surpass yourself on its trails.
Take the metro and get off at Angrignon station for a ski excursion in the park by the same name. The 10-km trail borders a lake and continues into the park’s wooded area.
Do you thrive on challenges? Some parks offer specially groomed trails for skate skiing. Put your cardio to the test by visiting one of four parks that offer this service: Angrignon (2.8 km), Mont-Royal (around 4 km), Maisonneuve (2.7 km), Parc-nature du Bois-de-Liesse (Camille area loop).
Renting and borrowing equipment
People younger than 18 living in Montréal can borrow cross-country ski equipment. Adults accompanying them can rent the same type of equipment for a fee. The service is available at parc du Mont-Royal, at parc Jean-Drapeau as well as in parc-nature Cap Saint-Jacques, parc-nature Bois-de-Liesse (Des Champs area), parc-nature Île-de-la-Visitation and parc-nature Pointe-aux-Prairies for people under 18 living in Montréal.
On Saturdays and Sundays only, everyone can borrow cross-country skis for free at parc Frédéric-Back.