Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mont Saint-Hilaire

For decades, one of the highlights of driving to central Canada from my home in Nova Scotia occurred when I neared Montreal. There, in the overwhelmingly flat landscape of the St. Lawrence lowlands, rises a massive hill - mountain really - that appears to spring directly out of the soil as if by surprise. There are no foothills, the gradually hightening terrain that preceeds the Rocky Mountains, surrounding Mont Saint Hilaire. Instead it, and the other Monteregian Hills appear to thrust out of the fertile plains without warning or explanation.

So it was with genuine pleasure, and a great deal of anticipation, that I recently hiked the trails on Mont Saint-Hilaire maintained by the Gault Nature Reserve. This extensive network of walking paths, developed in order to celebrate and protect the distinctive natural qualities of this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve - Canada's first landscape so designated - enables hikers to climb to the peak of several hilltops, and to enjoy breath-taking views of the surrounding lowlands.

There are many wonderful trails that will be featured in the upcoming Hiking Trails of Montreal, but in my opinion, the route on Mont Saint-Hilaire will be one of the highlights.