Let me start by saying that I am not an avid bicyclist. Being out in the blistering sun, covered in sweat, straining to just get over the next hill and the next—that is not my idea of fun. However, give me a flat, paved trail and I’m on board. Easy peddling down a well-maintained tree-lined trail where other bikers are few and far between is more my speed. And Montréal’s waterfront bicycle paths are among my favorites.
Bicycling Along the St. Lawrence
Montréal is an island surrounded by the St. Lawrence River. However, you could easily spend several days exploring this city without really noticing its vast waterfront. Many of the cultural destinations and other tourist attractions are far from the river. So it would be easy to miss the wonderful opportunity that Montréal’s waterfront bicycle paths offer.
The St. Lawrence Waterfront Cycling Path is a park that stretches along the river for 13 miles. It is open year round, but the path is not maintained during the colder months. April 15-November 15 the path is open for bicycling, rollerblading, and walking. November 16-April 14 it is open for cross-country skiing. Here’s a map.
There are three main routes:
Des Berges Bike Trail
The West Trail of this bike path runs parallel and directly adjacent to the Saint Lawrence River and through several parks. If you are looking for true waterfront biking, this is for you. At the end of this route is Parc Rene-Levesque.
You can go out, turn around and come back the same way. Another alternative is to take the Canal De L’Aqueduc or Canal de Lachine trails on the return trip.
Canal de l’Aqueduc
This is the shortest of the three trails. It begins at Atwater Market and heads west along the southern bank of the canal. It is a picturesque location, passing Parc Angrigonon and crossed by nearly a dozen bridges.
Canal de Lachine
This third path runs along the Lachine Canal, starting at the Old Port and ending at Atwater Market. The path runs just over nine miles and is surrounded by lush grass, beautiful trees, and 19th century brick factory buildings and industrial parks. There are plenty of park benches along the way where you can stop, rest, and take in the views. According to several sources, the is the most popular, and resultantly the most crowded, of the three routes.
Of course, you can bring your own bicycle. But if that isn’t convenient, there are several options for renting, many of them near Old Montréal, where the trails begin. We rented from Ça Roule Montréal | Montreal on Wheels. We didn’t call ahead to reserve bikes, yet didn’t have any trouble getting what we needed. Each bicycle came with a small but useful flat area to store things and a bungee cord on the back of the bike. Use of a helmet was included in the price.
There were four of us in our group. Two bikes came with relatively comfortable seats, the other two were not comfortable, at all. For this reason, we recommend that you pay extra special attention to the bike seat before you ride away.
Montréal’s waterfront bicycle paths are good for all ages and abilities.