Oh, The Places You’ll Run

Ten Awesome Places To Get Your Jog On in Montreal

Photo by David Murphy

Running releases growth hormones, reduces the risk of heart disease, burns more calories than almost any other physical activity, boosts metabolism, kick-starts energy levels, leads to an endorphin high—and it’s a great way to see the city.

Winter won’t hit for real for another few months, so now’s a great time to grab those beat-up sneakers, a mp3 player and head outside for a run.

Many runners take to the treadmill once the weather gets colder. But Camille Usher, marathon runner and employee of The Running Room on Sherbrooke St. W., says that with the right gear and trail, you can run all year long.

“In the winter, I really like to run in the graveyard on Côte-des-Neiges,” she said. “They keep it salted all year; they need to keep the roads clean, and there’s no traffic. It’s all just winding roads.”

Montreal boasts some of the best places in Canada to pound pavement. Plan out your own run beforehand using sites like mapmyrun.com, Google Maps, and the Google Map Pedometer. Tech-savvy athletes with iPhone or iPod touches can track their distance and calories with the Nike+ chip or the Nike+GPS app.

More low-tech runners should just go outside and get exploring. Either way, Usher gives a few pointers.

“I make all my routes around parks because, generally, all the parks in Montreal have water fountains.”

She also points out, “You always need a good variation of flat and hills.”

We’ve compiled a list of Montreal’s most popular running routes. In a city with gorgeous skylines, a killer hill, and a multitude of waterways to run by, there’s a route for everyone.

#1 – The Mountain

The mother of all running routes and Montreal’s favourite trail (9-12 km). The roads are winding and the climb is steep, but it’s a beautiful run. Start at the statue on Parc Ave. and continue all the way up to the chalet near Beaver Lake.

#2 – Lachine Canal

Declared a national historic site, the canal offers a great view of the Montreal skyline. Start at Atwater Market and follow the water (around 14.5 km, one way).

#3 – Maisonneuve Park

A winter favourite, the east-end park is always bustling with people and makes for a relaxed run. Take the road around Olympic Park, the Olympic Stadium and the Botanical Gardens for some great sightseeing.

#4 – LaSalle Rapids

An off-the-island option, the rapids offer another gorgeous waterway to run by. Lasalle Blvd. boasts some of the city’s cleanest and smoothest paths, making for a good, flat, long-distance trail.

#5 – Lafontaine Park

Another relaxed park but in a more central location (on Rachel St. E.), this run has a gradual hill midway but is mostly flat. The lake in the centre, however, can make for a great loop. Overall, it’s an easy and quiet 3 km run.

#6 – Gouin Boulevard

Perhaps the greenest run on this list, the grand houses, river and tree-lined bike path make for a stunning route. Start where Gouin Blvd. meets Christophe Colomb Ave. and run along the water and through the Regional Nature Park.

#7 – Longueuil Regional Park
This is a shorter off-the-island option (5 km loop). The park includes the usual greenery and has a few water fountains. You can also run up the hill for a little variety (and an extra 2 km).

#8 – Summit Circle

An advanced Westmount run that winds up all the way until the lookout. If you’re looking for a thigh-burning run, this is it. The Running Room recommends starting from Prince Albert Ave. or Sherbrooke St. W. They organize group runs around the area regularly.

#9 – Côte-des-Neiges Cemetery

A safe run for the winter explorer, this trail definitely has an eerie cool factor. The graveyard is a large one and you have a lot of terrain to work with. Start at the main
entrance on Côte-des-Neiges Rd.

#10 – Old Port
A somewhat-easy but scenic place to run before sunset, although runners with weak ankles should beware of the cobblestone roads. The Tourisme Montreal website suggests starting at Square Victoria, heading up McGill St. until de la Commune St., and coming back along St. Paul St., which it describes as “charming and European.”