I have this thing for urban trails, as I love exploring pretty nature spots right in the middle of the city! And I particularly enjoyed visiting some urban parks in Montreal as part of the 75S Challenge. Next on my list? The Bois-de-Liesse nature park, where I headed one autumn morning.
In fact, after visiting Parc-nature du Cap-Saint-Jacques, Parc-nature de la Pointe-aux-Prairies and the Mount Royal Park, Parc-nature du Bois-de-Liesse represented the last hike that I still had to do in Montreal as part of the 75S Challenge. And since all my other hikes in the city have pleasantly surprised me, let’s just say that my expectations were quite high for this one!
Parc-nature du Bois-de-Liesse is located in the northwest of the island of Montreal, near the junction of Highways 40 and 13. This 159-hectare park highlights the Bois-Francs Forest and a sector of the Rivière des Prairies. The 75S Challenge suggests a 3.4-kilometre route in the Bois-Francs Sector, so that’s where I headed when I arrived at the park.
I first started by following the Bois-Francs Trail, a 3-kilometre loop which passes through a pretty mature forest, in which there are century-old trees. And I think that’s the first thing that struck me on my hike: what a surprise to find such tall trees in Montreal!
I followed the Bois-Francs Loop clockwise, and after about a kilometre, I arrived at a junction leading to the short Sentier des Attraits (Attractions Trail). This trail is intended to be an interactive and fun interpretive trail, and offers different stations to see the forest differently. I didn’t fully understand everything, but I found it original.
The Sentier des Attraits brought me back to the Bois-Francs Loop, which I continued to follow. The trail is wide and flat, which makes for a not too complicated walk. After about 2 kilometres, I arrived at another junction, this time with the Sentier du Pic (Woodpecker Trail). This trail is a must-see in the park, so there’s no way I was going to miss it!
The Sentier du Pic makes a loop of approximately 700 metres, and includes a long elevated footbridge, which allows you to walk through the middle of the canopy. I had seen photos online, but I admit that the effect is quite striking! This trail really allows you to see the forest from a different angle!
After the Sentier du Pic, I completed the Bois-Francs loop, and the route that I had to follow as part of the 75S Challenge. But as the nature park includes other trails and I wanted to continue exploring it, I decided to continue my hike. So I took the opportunity to follow another trail in the same area, the Sentier des Érables Noirs (Black Maple Trail), a 1.7 kilometre loop which follows, among other things, the Bertrand Creek.
As its name suggests, there are several black maples along this trail, a species considered rare and threatened in Quebec. Which makes Parc-Nature du Bois-de-Liesse not only a fun place to explore, but also an important location for protecting the biodiversity of Montreal Island.
Subsequently, I decided to explore another sector of the nature park, the Secteur des Champs (Fields Sector). A place where the forest was a little more sparse, but where there is another original footbridge, called the “Japanese footbridge”, whose particular geometric shape literally allows you to zigzag under the trees.
Parc-nature du Bois-de-Liesse includes a third sector, the Peninsula sector, located on the other side of Highway 13 and protecting a small peninsula on the Rivière des Prairies. But since I had already hiked more than 6 kilometres, I decided I had enough for that day and returned to the parking lot, postponing exploring this other sector until next time.
Of all the hikes I have done in Montreal, I think this was my favourite. The beauty of the forest, the quietness of the park, and the originality of some of the trails definitely make it a unique place to enjoy nature in the city!
Please note: access to the park is free, but there are some parking fees.