Parc-nature de la Pointe-aux-Prairies
Des Marais pavilion
Another entrance is at 12980 Gouin East
GUEPE offers day camps for kids
|The 261 hectares of Pointe-aux-Prairies park includes some fairly large pieces of land toward the easterly tip of the island of Montreal. The park is made up of several disjoint territories stretching from the Rivière-des-Prairies all the way to the St. Lawrence waterfront. Mind you, at this end of the island that's closer than it is almost anywhere else, but it still means we're talking about a sizable park with alternating forest, marshland, meadow and waterfront settings, on both sides of Autoroute 40.
If you're interested in a visit, it's worth going to the city's official page and downloading the PDF of the park map, because it helps to see how it's put together. You can also get a printed copy of the map in the pavilion, if it's open when you're there.
As you'll see below on the Google map, pieces of the park do a dance with pieces of the Club de golf de l'Île de Montréal, and parts of the park are only joined by a single footpath. However, when you're in the park itself you'll find that the walking paths (15 km) and cycling paths (14 km) are clearly signposted and you'd have to make an effort to get yourself lost.
In wintertime the park offers snowshoeing, winter walking and cross-country ski trails.
Pointe-aux-Prairies, if you can get there, is a nice unspoiled park, lightly used by a few cyclists and hikers, with interesting natural landscapes, 180 species of birds, numerous animal species, and a generally lush but low-key visit to a world that isn't often seen by city folks. Even the marshy parts seem less dense and jungly than those in the nature parks on the western part of the island. The air feels soft and clean.
Getting there by car is pretty straightforward: you take highway 40 almost off the island, or else Gouin Boulevard for the more scenic route. Two different entrances to the park are available directly via Gouin and there are parking lots.
Getting there by public transit means quite a long haul. To get to the Gouin side of the park, from Henri-Bourassa metro it's the 48 bus from end to end, and then the 183, or from Honoré-Beaugrand metro it's the 189 bus from end to end and then the 183. To get to the Sherbrooke Street entrance it's Honoré-Beaugrand metro then bus 186 to the stop at Yves-Thériault, then walk up that street to Jovette-Bernier.
Nice set of photos of the park by Flickr user Multivac42.
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