Bois-de-l'Île-Bizard Nature Park, Montreal, QC, Canada
Driving time from Montreal
Shared hiking and cycling routes
Getting to the island
Not exciting, but important info: From Montreal, take Autoroute 40 westbound and get off at exit 52, Boulevard Saint-Jean Nord. Turn left on Boulevard Pierrefonds, and then right on Jacques-Bizard. After the bridge, follow the blue signs to Bois-de-l’Île-Bizard. There’s a fee for parking. You can also get to the park by public transit, and there’s a nice ferry that departs from the L’Île-Bizard/Ste-Dorothée crossing.
Bring your bike along for the ride; if you don’t have a bike rack, check the MEC gear swap to see if you can find one that works.
A leisurely ride through the forest
Ride your bike through the changing landscape to take in the forests and marshes in the nature park, away from the sounds of the city. You’ll cycle on two kinds of surfaces, wooden boardwalk and crushed compacted gravel, with only small ribs to climb and short descents. You’ll probably pass lots of photographers on your way, poised with extra-long lenses looking for wildlife or birds in the the trees. It’s not a bad idea to take your own camera along for the ride.
Watch for wildlife
From the 500m winding boardwalk that spans the marsh you might see some of the island locals, like turtles, muskrats and even beavers. If you’re into nature, Bois-De l’Île-Bizard is a bit of a hotspot. Aside from the regular herons and geese, there have also been sightings of least bitterns (they’re like tiny herons), black terns in the marsh, along with lots of sparrows singing as you bike or walk by.
Some trails are for walking only, so if you’ve got time you can lock up your bike and set out on foot to get in a bit more time in the forest.
Make sure to pack a picnic and a bathing suit. After your cycling tour of the park, head to the north shore of Île-Bizard and you’ll find a small bay with a sandy beach. There’s supervised swimming in the shallow water. The province of Quebec regularly tests water quality and consistently rates it “good” or “excellent” at this beach. It’s also an ideal spot to catch the sunset.