Lac des Castors (Beaver Lake) framed by a maple (Acer) tree on Mount Royal Park in Autumn, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Perry Mastrovito / age fotostock
Mount Royal Park starts at the edge of the city just beyond the McGill campus and runs alongside neighborhoods like Plateau before rising to the top of 764-foot-tall Mount Royal (Mont Réal), the hill that gives the city its name. The twisting roads and paths of this crown jewel of Montréal’s park system were initially laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York’s Central Park. While Olmsted’s plan was not followed in all its details, the final result was true to his vision of a woody park that takes advantage of the site’s hilly topography. There are two belvederes with views of the city skyline and the St. Lawrence River, and one of Montréal’s iconic landmarks, a 103-foot-high cross, sits at its northern end. The park is most popular in summer, but residents flock here in every season, to enjoy the colorful foliage in the fall and the cross-country ski trails and toboggan runs in the winter.
Montreal's Eponymous Park: Parc Mont-Royal
Centrally located, and with a truly wild feel in places, Mount Royal Park is every bit as key to understanding Montreal as Central Park is for Manhattan. Taking a recommendation from our hostess Sophie at Casa Bianca (our lovely B&B just across the street from the park), we spent our first morning in Montreal hiking to the top of the mountain, which offers sweeping views of the city (not to mention a nice little workout to stave off any jet lag).
High Up and Away from the Hustle
Few places in Montreal can boast the peace and quiet of Mont Royal. Where else can locals hang out with beavers, foxes, raccoons, and squirrels, all while breathing the fresh mountain air and admiring the sun’s reflection on the lake? Indeed, Mont Royal Park has been a big hit among Montrealers ever since its completion by Olmsted in the 1860s. Mont Royal also offers incredible views of downtown Montreal, as well as the Olympic Stadium in the east. Particularly lovely in the fall due to its elevation, the park’s foliage turns to bright hues of red and orange. Who doesn’t like a good autumn spectacle? Pack a picnic at the shops on nearby Mont Royal Avenue and enjoy a well-deserved day in the sun.