Montreal during the spring and summer is a truly magical place. The frigid constraints of winter have finally faded away, and the city blossoms in almost every way possible. Right about now, when it starts to warm up a bit, Montrealers flood the streets, looking to have as much fun as possible before mother nature forces them back inside for another six months.
Biking is one of those outdoor activities that Montreal truly embraces come summer time… yeah yeah, I know some of y’all bike in the winter as well, and much respect to ya, but it’s just not the same. So whether you’re a spandex laden racing addict, a fixie head, or just a flaneur like me who likes to get lost on your bike from time to time, read on and check out five of the best routes in the city.
1. The Lachine Canal; Lachine to the Old Port
This is the quintessential Montreal bike path. Whether you go west to east, or east to west, it makes for a very scenic ride with plenty of lush green space along the water. The further eastward you travel, the landscape gradually changes from suburban to urban as you approach the old port. The further westward you travel, more green space begins to emerge. There are plenty of little shady nooks for pit stop purposes if that’s your style. One downside is that as you ride westward, the canal begins to open up into Lac Saint Louis, which as I mentioned makes for a scenic ride, but also increases the amount of bugs that fly into your face, especially at night. So yeah, just be wary of that.
2. Westmount to Outremont Through Mount Royal
This route highlights arguably the two most affluent and architecturally stunning residential neighborhoods in Montreal, Westmount, and Outremont. The middle of the ride showcases Mount Royal Park which offers plenty of alternate detours you can take to personalize your ride. Start at Decarie and Sherbrooke and head east. Once you hit Roslyn or Victoria, head north and begin to explore Westmount. You can stick to Westmount Avenue, but I encourage you to explore the borough a bit. The higher up the mountain you go, the houses progressively get larger and more beautiful. Once you hit the park, stick around Chemin Remembrance, but feel free to peruse the mountain as you wish. You can cycle in and around it as much as you like. Finish at the northeastern end of the park, and roll your way into Outremont to finish your ride. I’m not often in Outremont so I like to get lost there for a while. Warning: This ride is obviously really hilly, so if you don’t want to pump them legs, steer clear.
3. The Plateau to Parc Jean Drapeau
From the classically hip Montreal neighborhood to the location of the best music festival in the city, this route is indeed quite lovely. Begin around Papineau and St. Joseph and head south towards the Jacques Cartier Bridge. Once you get over to Saint Helen’s Island you can explore the park at your leisure. It’s a lot flatter than Mount Royal, and there are bike paths all over the place. Feel free to check out the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on the neighboring Ile Notre Dame. It’s essentially a giant bike path every other day of the year except during Grand Prix.
Photo cred – montreal-centre
4. Montreal West to Lafontaine Parc (De Maisonneuve Bike Path)
This is one of the more central routes in Montreal that begins on the quieter more forgotten end of De Maisonneuve and progresses into the heart of the city. There are two parks one can explore on this ride, Westmount Park and Parc Lafontaine. Westmount Park is the smaller more quaint of the two, with tiny rolling hills and babbling brooks.. Lots of dog walkers, kids and soccer moms. Parc Lafontaine is a sprawling expanse of abundant foliage and water slightly north east of the city center. Keep riding along De Maisonneuve until you hit Beaudry, and then ride up until you hit the park, which you can explore at your leisure.
5. Montreal West to N.D.G, to Cote Saint Luc, to Hampstead
This is more of a personal and nostalgic route to discuss, because it was the ride I would often take when I still lived at home. It runs through the infamously Anglophone northwestern nook of the GMA, and is probably the quietest and least traffic laden route on the list. Start on Westminster and Sherbrooke, and head northeast toward Fielding. Once there, stay on the bike path until you arrive at Cote Saint Luc Road, which marks the border of Hampstead. Explore the bowels of the borough accordingly. It’s quite flat, but the roads are peppered with whirling roundabouts. Head north towards Fleet and Decarie, and end your ride around there.