When it comes to winter sports, Montreal is mostly known for being the home of the Canadiens, the most decorated hockey team in NHL history. However, there are a few parks around the city that offer fine options for outdoor winter sports. The Cap-Saint-Jacques Park is one the areas where Montrealers can find nature on the mostly urbanized Island of Montreal. This outing takes you on the cross-country ski tracks of this park, located near the western end of the island.
Cap-Saint-Jacques Nature Park is a public recreation area that is operated by the City of Montreal. The trails start at the visitor center, located at the easternmost parking area, which can accommodate several dozens of cars. There are four easy loops to choose from, ranging from 2.4 to 10.9 kilometers. The trails are groomed for classic and skate skiing. The elevation gain and loss is minimal on all trails, and the trails can be combined to make an outing of varying distance. This makes this park a great destination for beginners and for families. Some trails are shared with hikers, but most are for skiing only.
The Blue (squirrel) and Red (rabbit) trails, the longest in the park, go around the cape, thus allowing views of the Lac des Deux-Montagnes. The Green (turtle) Trail stays in the interior, in the marsh and forest of maple trees, as does the Yellow (beaver) Trail, although it does have a short section by the lake. The Red, Yellow and Green trails come close to the sugar shack, if a sugary snack is of interest.
There are few skiing spots on the Island of Montreal, and the trails in Cap-Saint-Jacques Park are the ones that will offer the most solitude, especially on weekdays. Snow conditions are updated daily on the park’s website (general information available in English, but detailed information in French only). This is one of the best options to cross-country ski without leaving the island.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.