It’s a funny thing living in a city with a mountain right in the centre. I see it every day when I step out of the apartment onto the high street. When I’m at work, it’s the view from our office window.
Yet I don’t often take the time to go up to enjoy the stunning views over the city, nor appreciate the huge number of walking trails and quiet spots away from the bustle of the town below.
It’s what I’ve come to term “Brighton syndrome”. I spent most of my life living in London, but inexplicably I’ve never been to Brighton. I always knew it was there, just an hour’s train ride away. But I thought it’s so close I could go any time, and so I kept putting it off. And then one day Montreal was my home and Brighton was far far away. I’ve still not visited.
And so, I sometimes take for granted the mountain on my doorstep and don’t go to explore often enough. A situation I corrected last weekend as with some intrepid companions we went to explore all three of the mountain’s peaks, including six of its lookouts!
The first lookout we visited is perhaps one not many know about. Make it to the highest point in Westmount and you’ll find Summit Woods. Directly in front is the lookout. It’s quite large, but hardly anyone seems to visit. Perhaps it’s because they’ve closed off the parking and that it’s quite a trek on foot to make it up to the top.
Either way, the views give you a vista to the south east, with Montreal’s downtown just visible to the west.
I don’t know if this tiny lookout has an official name, but nestled away on the other side of Summit Circle along a trail is this view over the other peaks of Mont Royal.
Just behind Westmount and overlooking Montreal’s Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood is the mighty Saint Joseph’s Oratory. The basilica which stands imposingly on Westmount Summit gives remarkable 120° views to the north of the city and onwards to the Laurentian mountains.
The basilica itself looks older than it really is, having been completed in the 1930s and is as impressive from inside as it is from without.
Behind Mont Royal’s cemeteries lies another lookout with views out over the garden city of the Town of Mont Royal. Look closely and you can see the rusting pylons of the ski lift which used to bring people to the top long long ago.
Nowadays, access is by means of a trail, or via the giant cemetery which backs onto the lookout.
The most famous of the mountain’s lookouts, and the busiest is the Belvédère Kondiaronk, with its incredible views over downtown and an impressive chalet. Almost every photo you’ve ever seen of Montreal was taken from this spot and you’ll find it awash with tourists all looking to get the perfect selfie. But don’t worry, the lookout is large enough that you’ll be able to find a spot to admire the view.
Lastly, we arrive at the mountain’s Eastern lookout providing striking view over the East of the city, all the way to the Olympic Stadium and beyond. Known as a make-out spot due to its convenient parking directly in front of the panorama, it overlooks my part of the city and gets my vote as the favourite of the lookouts.
Located directly above Jeanne-Mance park, it’s easy to make the descent to witness the Tam-tams, or head into the Plateau for some post-hike drinks.
The whole walk took around 5 hours (including some cafe stops). Autumn is a fleeting season, and so it was good to get amongst the foliage before the leaves fall and the mountain becomes bare for the winter.
Canadians may boast of Toronto having the highest view in the country with the CN Tower at 550m tall. But for my money whilst Montreal’s mountain may stand at just 223m by comparison, it has the superior views and so much more.
Enjoyed this post? You may also enjoy: From River to Mountain