Gault Nature Reserve

Heights and bites outside the city

Trail / Hike

Beginner-friendly

Full day

You might not expect to find over 1000 hectares of primeval forests near Montreal, but that’s exactly what the Gault Nature Reserve is. These lands, protected by McGill University, are a perfect hiking destination with over 25km of trails. After your hike, refuel with a stop at a nearby orchard or winery.  

Gault Nature Reserve

Gault Nature Reserve of McGill University, Chemin des Moulins, Mont-Saint-Hilaire, QC, Canada

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Driving time from Montreal

45 minutes

Species of wild animals, birds, reptiles and butterflies

100+

Trails to explore

25km

Planning your hike

Delve into the natural history

Entering a nature zone

Even though it’s not far from the city, it’s important to remember that the Gault Nature Reserve is – as its name implies – a nature reserve. Get to know the 7 tips for being a responsible hiker so you can leave things wild for the next hikers coming through (and your #adventuredog will need to stay home for this hike).

Once you arrive

Parking is near the entrance of the nature reserve by the trailheads. If you’re looking for more of a challenging workout, try either of the two trails that lead to the Rocky Lookout. You’ll also find a designated place to eat there, but feel free to pack snacks and drinks and enjoy a picnic near Lac Hertel. Keep an eye on the time: the park closes one hour before sunset.

 

Call the Nature Reserve at 1-450-467-4010 to find out the trail conditions for the day.

 

Way up high

The Gault Nature Reserve can be a bit of an uphill trek, but the views from the top are worth it. Much of the park centres around Mont Saint-Hilaire, a hill whose slopes are more than 400m in height.

 

While both routes to the Rocky Lookout will have you hiking for a solid hour and a half, none of the trails are too strenuous. Just remember that since the purpose of this park is to preserve old woodlands, management of the land is kept to a minimum. That means the trails can be narrow and hilly and are often strewn with roots, sticks and leaves.

Lots to learn

Curious about something you saw on your hike? Visit the Mont St-Hilaire Nature Centre for more information about the history of the region. The Nature Centre is supported by the nature reserve’s modest entrance fees and community donations.

The reward

After your hike, find a place to refuel. Depending on if apples or grapes are more your style, you can pop by a nearby orchard for a refreshing treat, or sip a glass of wine in the foothills of Mont Saint-Hilaire. There are more than ten different types of apples to sink your teeth into one at Croquez Mont-Saint-Hilaire (depending on the time of year), or you can toast to your hike at Vignobles les Murmures (provided you’ve arranged transportation, of course).

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