They call it The Mountain. And while, to the American tourist used to the towering mountain ranges of the Rockies and the Sierras, it more like a small hill; it does tower above Montreal.
I started my first full day in Montreal with a hike up Mont-Royal. Canada in early October felt much more like Autumn than the 80 degrees I left in New York—complete with early fall colors and chilly temperatures.
It might not be an off-road trail somewhere, but you feel as you wind your way up like you’re in the wilderness, even if I didn’t see any wildlife beyond a chipmunk or two. But, like so many natural spaces in the world, it was carefully landscaped by none other than Frederick Law Olmstead. So, while The Mountain may be the vestige of a long since extinct volcano, the landscape and wilds that have captured the attention of tourists and locals alike since the 1870s was crafted. Olmstead sought to emphasize the mountainous topography, with every rock, every path, and even the vegetation as you ascend to the top carefully selected.
All of Olmstead’s vision did not come to fruition and changes to the landscape of Mont Royal have take place since the park first opened in 1876 (though what hasn’t changed in the world since 1876?): A Chalet was built, sculptures added, a lake created, the infamous cross at the top of Mountain was illuminated. Regardless of the additions, Mont Royal offers a natural reprieve from city life.
Oh, and the summit, offers some breathtaking views of a City, which to be honest doesn’t have the most exciting skyline.