Exploring The TransCanada Trail With The Canada Games Torch Relay
With warm weather finally here to stay, there’s never been a better time to set out on a hike or bike ride through one of Canada’s many scenic trails. The TransCanada Trail — the world’s longest network of multi-use recreational trails — is a great place to start. It stretches for 28,000 km, connecting all three of Canada’s coasts.
Did you know that 80% of Canadians live within 30 minutes of the Trail? It’s a great way to explore your corner of Canada or set off on a trek through a new place. To inspire you to get outside, today we are featuring a part of the trail that connects Ottawa to Montreal through the spectacular Laurentians.
The route is special because on Monday (June 6th), torchbearers for the 28th Canada Games will set off along this same route to carry the torch for the Opening Ceremonies in Niagara. After arriving by trail in Montreal, the torch will make its way down the St. Lawrence Seaway on the CSL St-Laurent to Niagara.
Ready for some trail inspiration? Read on to learn more about how to explore each section of the TransCanada Trail route from the nation’s capital to Montreal:
Capital Pathway Trail
The Capital Pathway Trail runs from the base of Alexandra Bridge between Gatineau and Ottawa, and follows the Ottawa River west to the Greenbelt.
Walk, hike or cycle along the trail, taking in the scenic cityscape and water views. Stop at one of several quintessential landmarks along the route: the Château Laurier, Parliament Buildings, National Gallery of Canada and much more are on, or just off, the trail. Fuel up at the ByWard Market with a snack or a drink and then continue along your way. There’s plenty to discover: the Capital Pathway network includes more than 600 km of multi-use trails.
Wakefield Trails spans five km, traversing the charming town of Wakefield and following the Gatineau River. Stroll along Chemin Riverside and check out the shops, cafés and bistros, or continue along the trail over the famed Wakefield Covered Bridge. Originally built in 1915, the bridge burned in 1984 but was restored in 1998 as a pedestrian and cyclist bridge. Continuing along the trail, you’ll find the Fairbairn House Heritage Centre, one of Wakefield’s oldest houses that now serves as a museum. It’s the former home of Scottish settler William Fairbairn, who moved to Wakefield with his family in 1834.
P’tit Train du Nord: Mont-Laurier area
The P’tit Train du Nord offers quintessential Laurentians scenery: immerse yourself in the beauty of the surrounding lakes, rivers and mountains as you pass through charming villages and towns. The trail was built on a former railway line, making for a relatively flat journey with minimal grade changes. An extremely popular cycling options, the P’tit Train du Nord runs for 234-km from Mont-Laurier to Bois-des-Filion.
In Mont-Laurier, cool down at the Lac des Sources municipal beach, sample local cuisine and check out the exhibits at the Centre d’exposition Mont Laurier.
P’tit Train du Nord: Mont-Tremblant Village area
The 234-km P’Tit Train du Nord continues from the north through the pretty village of Mont-Tremblant. Renowned for its skiing and winter sports, the village offers plenty of things to do in the warmer months too. Cycling, hiking and camping options abound. In the village, relax at the Lac Mercier municipal beach or try out some of the local cuisine.
P’tit Train du Nord: Saint-Faustin-Lac-Carré area
Ten kilometres from Mont-Tremblant, the P’tit Train du Nord trail passes through the town of Saint-Faustin-Lac-Carré. With plenty of hiking, walking and cycling options in the area, Saint-Faustin-Lac-Carré is a lovely spot to rest, refuel and enjoy the region.
Laurentian-style wonders are here in full force: lakes, forests and rolling hills surround the town. Visit the Parc Eco Laurentides, a 1,770-hectare park boasting hiking trails, camping, fishing and lovely flora and fauna. Stop for a snack at a local casse-croûte before continuing along the trail.
P’tit Train du Nord: Saint-Jérôme area
Saint-Jérôme is mile 0 of the P’tit Train du Nord trail (although it continues further south to Bois-des-Filion, the markings from here onwards have an S for south). Head along the trail towards Saint-Adele, 25 km to the north, passing through the lovely towns of Piedmont and Prévost along the way, or journey through Mirabel — home to orchards galore — to Bois-des-Filion, the southernmost end of the trail.
In Saint-Jérôme, visit the tourist office, situated in an old train station from 1987 or head downtown to Dieu du Ciel. A stop at the pub is a must-do for beer enthusiasts, but the downtown also offers restaurants, cafes and a public market.
Trans Terrebonne Trail
Outdoor adventure awaits in the Terrebonne and Mascouche area — cycling, hiking, golf and horseback riding are all available. The Trans Terrebonne Trail runs for 29 kilometres between Bois-des-Filion and Charlemagne, passing through Old Terrebonne and following the Mille Iles River. In Old Terrebonne, Île-des-Moulins is the site of several historic buildings including an old mill, parks, benches and beautiful water views. There are also several bistros and cafes, ideal for a stop to rest and refuel.
Lachine Canal National Historic Site
Smack-dab in the centre of Montreal, the Lachine Canal National Historic Site offers an urban yet peaceful route between the Old Port and Lake Saint-Louis. Walk or cycle along the waterway, passing by five locks. This once-industrial area has been transformed in recent years to house shops and eateries just off the trail.
Stop at the Atwater Market for a wander and a snack, hit up one of the microbreweries in Montreal’s Griffintown, Saint-Henri or Point Saint-Charles neighbourhoods, or plan a bike trip and picnic along the canal. The trail continues all the way to Lachine, a charming historic borough with plenty of attractions of its own.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the TransCanada Trail — a perfect excuse to explore a new part of the trail or revisit an old favourite.