- Like everywhere else in Montreal, Mount Royal is filled with detours, but unlike on the roads, there are no signs telling you where to go.
- Below you'll find the story of a Montrealer who got lost trying to make his way to the famous lookout, thanks to the lack of construction signage.
I don't know if you've been on Mount Royal recently, but like everywhere else in Montreal, it's under construction. The city is renovating the famous Rue Peel Stairs and surrounding hiking trails which has caused detours of epic proportions.
Like many Montrealers, I was at a picnic with friends during the waning days of summer at Beaver Lake. Making my way up to Beaver Lake from Côte-des-Neiges was no big deal since it was one of those perfect summer days with a slight breeze and almost no humidity.
Post-picnic, we decided to head to the Mount Royal lookout. With wall-to-wall tourists and children running around, the lookout was no fun, so we set off for the Peel Stairs.
We were casually walking down the main trail and then bam! Orange sign. "DÉTOUR." Wondering what was up, I asked the bored-looking and security-vested worker where this detour went. "Escalier," they abruptly said and pointed down a path. I shrugged and figured that we'll make our way down if we follow the crowd.
That was my first mistake.
Now, as soon as you pay the ferryman and begin walking the trail, you'll notice that the trail seems to lead directly down the mountain. And then, it turns to the left.
This is where all the problems began.
I know that a lot of you in the comments are going to call me stupid and that I should've used my phone to find my way. Believe me, I tried. Google AND Waze. Neither one had any idea WTF was going on either.
But, logic dictates that if you erect a detour sign, there should be signs along the detoured route to help people get back on track, right?
Oh, honey. Logic? This is Montreal.
At this point, there were many people still on the trail. Nothing seems weird and you don't feel lost because you're walking down the mountain, right? You encounter old wooden stairs and a small little bridge and even a rocky outcrop, but you never feel lost.
Until you reach the fork in the road.
Now I've been walking for around 30ish minutes and the creeping realization that I'm completely lost begins to settle in.
I make a show to take out my phone and try to figure it out, but the path I followed led me to another smaller lookout in the forest. A dead end. Thanks, phone.
At this point in our journey, we've somehow completely overshot the Peel Stairs and are looking into the bowl of Percival-Molson Stadium. Go Als!
But, no need to panic right? At this point, it's too late to turn back, so we continue on. Darkness has crept into the woods and now it's pitch black, so I start using my phone light to guide my unsure feet.
Again, there are absolutely ZERO signs after the first one. There's no indication of where to go or where the stairs are. Nothing!
And let me mention, I'm not a tourist or someone from the ROC. I grew up in Montreal, have visited the mountain countless times, and the mountain detour defeated me, so you can only imagine how non-locals must feel!
This is a fatal flaw that must be fixed immediately. Now, I haven't been up there since my harrowing journey, so maybe they've added signs but history tells me they haven't even bothered.
I'm now hopelessly lost in the woods and it's darker than dark. And now, I'm somehow walking uphill because why the fuck not?
I'm not the only one who has had this problem, apparently. I saw this Reddit post by Callmehippy they told me that they also got slightly lost using the detour and were surprised that construction has infiltrated the mountain.
To make a long story short (kind of), after more turns and more dead ends, I somehow ended up at the corner of Avenues du Parc and Mont-Royal. I finally made it off the mountain, but about 3 kilometres off my original destination.
Am I an idiot and have a terrible sense of direction? Maybe. But I blame the city for having absolutely no indication of how to reach the Peel Stairs after the first detour.