May 2008: Mont-Royal Park


Montreal, Quebec

Another offering by the father of landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted, the 1876 Mont-Royal Park is his only creation outside of the United States. It features trademark twisting paths that lead gently to the top of 765-foot Mont-Royal. The mountain, from which the city takes it name, was climbed by Jacques Cartier in 1535. 

You can leave the wide paved trails and explore dirt paths in the upper regions of the park that pass through light woods. At the base of the mountain are plenty of grassy lawns to sprawl with your dog. At the summit, reached via Douglas MacArthur Bridge from Jefferson Avenue, are views of downtown Montreal and across the St. Lawrence River into New York's Adirondack Mountains.

About one-half hour north of downtown Montreal is Chemin de la Presqu'île. Long ago, "Chemin de la Presqu'île" was the name of the horse and buggy road that linked Mascouche and Repentigny. To commemorate the road that led citizens to Repentigy lands recessed between Assomption river and the Saint-Lawrence, Jean-Marie Desrosiers decided to give the same name to the vast network of trails he created in Le Gardeur in 1978.

The Presqu'île Trail boasts a network of four well-marked, pleasing hiking trails ranging from a little over a mile to about 3 miles. Since the early 1990s, dogs have been welcome on the park trails and can even be walked without a leash.

The canine hiking is at an easy clip on the flat trails along the Le Gardeur section, however the hike becomes more challenging along the undulating loops that meet the Mascouche section. Small ponds provide a spot for dogs to cool off but also bring squadrons of mosquitoes. Bring plenty of insect repellent for you and your dog - the females get so hungry for a blood meal that hikers are not charged admission in summer.

Parc Mont-Royal is reached via Exit 5 of Route 720 on Avenue du parc. The dog-friendly Chemin de la Presqu'île is located in Le Gardeur and reached from Highway 40 or 640, Exit 97.