Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Superbly Scenic Seaway Bike Path

Friday night I rode the excellent Les Berges bike path that goes long the edge of the St-Laurence river. I described it as the most scenic bike ride in town.


There is another bike path beside the St-Laurence river, on the other side of the river from Montreal. It follows the thin piece of land between the St-Laurence river and the St-Laurence seaway along the south shore.

This path has amazing views of Montreal across the wide part of the river.

Mont Royal in the background, with the skyscrapers of downtown on the right side and the green hill of Westmount on the left side. This view of Montreal is the best there is.

The path goes between Parc Drapeau/Ecluse St-Lambert Locks on the north side and 13 km car-free kilometres to the south is the ecluses St-Catherine. Access is also available at the Nun's Island Estacade (ice bridge).

Did I mention that this is car-free? Yes, it's a full-size road, but it's car-free and as a result: completely great for bikes. Clubs use the ten km paved section this for a ten km time trial.

This ride is just you and the great scenery.

At the southern (St-Catherine) you reach the St-Catherine locks. Here you can: 1) turn around and ride back. 2) cross the locks and enter the town of St-Catherine. Here you can ride back along bike paths along the south shore to the St-Lambert locks or Pont Jacques Cartier. 3) continue to the end of the seaway at the "Recreoparc." It is free to enter just to ride around (I think there is a pay beach). Riding around lets you discover that here you have close up views of the Lachine Rapids from the south side of the St-Laurence river. Take a few moments to stop and stretch while enjoying the fantastic view, it's on my top-ten list of Montreal views and it is one of Montreal's best secret nature spots.

For our ride tonight we u-tuen and ride east and north, following the river as it turns northeast on it's trip to the Atlantic Ocean. Back by Parc Drapeau gives one a few treats: riding on the circuit Gilles Villeneuve race track (you can ride around it for a lap or two if you have the time), and passing beside the humongoid geodesic dome from Expo 67's USA pavillion, and finally crossing the Jacques Cartier bridge, another top-ten view of the city.

In a few minutes we reach the plateau and cross the Rachel path, and then up St-Joseph to Mile-End. Start-to-finish in under two hours? We should do this ride every week. It's a great after work ride without the crowds of the urban bike paths. It truly takes you to a different world with the natural setting of thr Seaway bike path. Secluded between the two stretches of water, it is the most "nature" you can get anywhere in Montreal.

It's after work and you have no time for a big ride?

Did I mention it is only a two hour round trip from Mile-end? Yup. You can do it as an after work ride.

Map Legend:

Red Dots:
My actual ride - you could skip the trans-downtown section and ride out-and-back from Pont Jacques Cartier/Parc Drapeau only

Blue Dots:
Alternatives for more scenery or distance
1) Les Berges/Lachine Canal/Parc Levesque loop (my Grand Tour ride)
2) Recreoparc at St-Lambert locks - amazing river's edge view of Lachine rapids
3) alt. route from Pont Jacques Cartier to St-Lambert locks bypassing Parc Drapeau

Yellow Dots:
The Great Montreal Bike Path Missing Link: St-Catherine locks to Montreal via Pont Mercier Bridge (this is NOT reccomended because there is no bike path on Mercier bridge - VERY DANGEROUS - a bike path across bridge is promised for 2009)


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