Last summer, I really enjoyed hiking the trails of Parc-nature du Cap-Saint-Jacques. I was surprised to discover such a beautiful green space on the Island of Montreal. It made me want to explore other nature parks in the city, and that’s why I went hiking at Parc-nature de la Pointe-aux-Prairies last weekend.
If Cap-Saint-Jacques is located in the west of the island of Montreal, Parc-nature de la Pointe-aux-Prairies is located at the eastern end of the island, near where the Rivière des Prairies and the St. Lawrence River meet. This 261-hectare park features wetlands and wooded areas, and is an excellent place to observe the region’s typical flora and fauna.
Parc-nature de la Pointe-aux-Prairies is divided into three sectors, and I decided to focus on exploring the one north of Highway 40: the Marais and Rivière-des-Prairies sector. I parked at the pretty Marais Pavilion, paid my parking fee, and set off on the icy trail.
Like the Cap-Saint-Jacques nature park, Parc-nature de la Pointe-aux-Prairies is also part of the 75S challenge, a challenge showcasing 75 hikes from all over Quebec. The trail to be followed as part of the challenge is the Rabbit Loop, a trail of just over 4 kilometres that passes through the marsh of the nature park.
Winter is perhaps not the best season to appreciate the marsh and all its biodiversity (the marsh was very quiet under its thick layer of ice), but the trails are well laid out and allow for a pleasant hike, either with snowshoes, on cross-country skis or on foot (for my part, I had put on crampons to avoid slipping on the icy sections).
Parc-nature de la Pointe-aux-Prairies is apparently an excellent place to observe birds (more than 184 species have been seen there) and it is also home to a herd of white-tailed deer.
I didn’t have much luck with bird watching (only the crows seemed to want to brave the cold), but I was able to see a few white-tailed deer! I often come across deer when hiking in the forest, but it was funny to see some on the Island of Montreal!
The Rabbit Loop is pretty easy to follow (in the summer I believe this trail is wheelchair accessible). I followed it counter-clockwise from the Marais Pavilion, first following the loop that goes around the Marais sector. Then the trail passes near Collège St-Jean Vianney and completes another loop, this one in the Rivière-des-Prairies sector. There is a pretty picnic area, as well as open fields, but this part of the hike is made a little less interesting by the high voltage lines that cross the place.
Just before brining me back to my starting point, the trail gave me the opportunity to take a short detour to a viewing platform overlooking a marsh. I imagine the view must be more interesting there in the summer, but it seemed like a really nice place to observe birds up close.
Then I only had a few more metres to hike to get back to the Marais Pavilion. Even if I would have liked the weather to feel a bit more like spring for this visit, I am happy to have been able to explore another beautiful park in Montreal, and I have added another 75S hike to my list!
***The Rabbit Loop of Parc-nature de la Pointe-aux-Prairies is part of the 75S Challenge, an hiking challenge managed by Rando Québec. To learn more about the challenge or to follow my progress, visit this page.***