This TikTok video might be onto something...
Let's be honest. We've all watched at least a few TikTok videos as the platform has become wildly popular over the last year or so. While it may not quite measure up to the legend that was Vine, every now and then you come across a quality meme or surprisingly useful life hack. This time, TikTok might have something to offer those of us who are looking for a new outdoor spot. The best news is, you won't have to travel far to get to any of them because they're all in Montreal!
This video was created by TikTok user @matt16_c and shared on the Instagram account @514tiktok back in September. Matt, we don't know you, but we appreciate you!
1. Caverne de Saint-Léonard
Located in Pie XII Park, this natural underground cave is 200 square meters and has a drop of 8 meters. As soon as you descend the concrete steps into the entrance of the caves, you'll be able to see that the walls are striped with limestone, containing fossils that are more than 450 million years old!
The cave system has existed under what is now Saint-Leonard for at least 15,000 years, but explorers have continued to discover new areas in more recent years. Geologists think it was probably formed as a result of glaciers pushing apart the rock walls and then eventually melting away. The main portion of the system is welcome for visitors, but there are still some more recently-discovered areas that aren't yet available for everyone.
The cave system is open to the public, but it has been made a "heritage site of regional interest" by the Community Urbaine de Montreal, so you'll have to reserve a time slot ahead of time. This is to make sure that the visitors are safe, and the cave system and its inhabitants are protected from significant human impact. Between the months of May and August, you can book a guided tour with a speleologist, or someone who studies caves (cool word, right?).
2. Îles-de-Boucherville National Park
Located smack-dab in the middle of the Saint Lawrence River and only a few kilometers from downtown, this park is the perfect nature getaway if you're looking to stay close to home. Even though it's called a national park, Îles-de-Boucherville is actually managed by Sépaq, the Société des établissements de plein air du Québec, rather than Parks Canada.
This is the perfect place to get away from the city noise for a day or even just a few hours. Plus, you can enjoy all kinds of activities, like cross-country skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing in the winter, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing in the summer, hiking and wildlife watching all year round, and so much more!
One of Sépaq's mission is to conserve nature and keep their parks healthy and safe with the help of stakeholders and the local community. Part of that means that you'll need to pay a small fee (about $9) to be able to enter the park, but it's nice to know that your money is going towards protecting the environment so we can all enjoy it!
3. Île de la Visitation
This nature park is a small island occupying an area of about 34 hectares, or about 34,000 square meters. It's part of the Hochelaga Archipelago in the Rivière des Prairies, and was home to Canada's first industrial site way back during the French regime.
There are walking paths along the shore with beautiful views of the river and shore birds, and all kinds of historical monuments along the way. The western side of the island is covered in biking paths, and in the wintertime cross-country skiing trails are available. There's even a small hill for tobogganing!
You can get to the park by car or by public transit, although you may need to pay a small parking fee if you plan to drive. Getting there by metro or bus might be a bit of a journey, but it's made so you can comfortably spend the day there. There are plenty of cafes around, food vendors, areas for picnics, and you're welcome to use the park for a barbeque.
4. Standing Wave at Habitat 67
This last spot may very well be the coolest and most surprising of the bunch. Next door to the iconic Habitat 67 housing complex is a natural standing wave. What is a standing wave, you ask? Basically, fast-moving water from the Saint Lawrence's Lachine rapids encounter underwater boulders in this area, creating a wave that can reach up to 2 meters high!
The wave was first surfed by Corran Addison, an Olympic kayaker. Since then, his river-surfing school has taught thousands of students to surf on this standing wave. Can you believe Montreal has a surfing school?! The wave is pretty much perpetual, offering endless practice for those eager to learn.
People take to the wave on surf boards and kayaks alike, and they don't have to rely on the tides for a good day. In the summertime, it's like Montreal's very own tropical oasis!
Thank you, @matt16_c whoever you are! I know I've got four new items on my bucket list!