This is a guide to one of the greatest bike rides in the world, the Lachine Canal Bike Path in Montreal, Canada. We found that one of the finest ways to spend a sunny day cycling in Montreal is to ride down the Lachine Canal Bike Path. Here’s how we spent a perfect day cycling the full length of this bike path, and also got to see the Parc René-Levesque, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and Lake Saint-Louis.
Map of the Lachine Canal Bike Path
This map shows the route we cycled, from Ca Roule Montréal (Montréal on Wheels) to Parc Rene-Levesque.
Starting point to Cycle along the Lachine Canal: Rue de la Commune Est in Montreal
We started the day by hiring public bike share bikes called Bixi’s and biking down to Rue de la Commune Est, an interesting, historic and picturesque street right next to the Lachine Canal Bike Path. This street is amply supplied with ice-cream shops, pubs, and restaurants for hungry cyclists.
We parked our bikes in a handy Bixi station right across the road from a really great bike rental store, Ca Roule Montréal (Montréal on Wheels). Read all about Montreal bike rentals here.
We picked up a couple of bikes – a Norco road bike for me and a hybrid for Maggie – and set off along the Lachine Canal Bike Path.
Where to Find the Lachine Canal Bike Path
The Lachine Canal Bike Path handily starts right across the road from the bike rental store, so that you don’t have to spend even a moment cycling with cars on roads.
The Lachine Canal Bike Path is truly a great way to experience cycling in Montreal. Completely off-road, it winds along beside the Lachine Canal for around 30 km (round trip).
Unlike the Central Valley Greenway in Vancouver, this really is a multi-user trail – we saw cyclists, inline skaters, wheelchair users, joggers and pedestrians. Most were out for fun; some were obviously commuters. As you can see from the photos, the trail is suitable for the whole family.
The Lachine Canal Bike Path is Accessible for All
The Lachine Canal Bike Path is accessible for all, as it is flat, paved, and completely off road. It is also lighted, and open all year round. The only downside is that it runs through industrial areas and alongside highways – however, it is kind of fun to look through the trees and see gridlocked cars, while you’re cycling along with the wind in your hair!
We set off from the Old Port of Montreal and just kept following the signs. It’s impossible to get lost – the only question is how far you will go before you turn back. We went right to the very end, which I highly recommend, as the best views are at the end. There are two stops along the way where you can buy snacks and water (or rent a boat or bike). These two places are close together, so stock up on fluids when you find them.
Washrooms on the Lachine Canal Bike Path
As with most trails, there are not enough washrooms on the Lachine Canal Bike Path, but there are some. There are public washrooms at the Atwater Market across from the bike shop on Lachine Canal, and in Rene Levesque Park. We also found a great pub, the St-Ambroise Terrace. It’s an outdoor pub, where food is prepared outside on a household barbeque! It also had washrooms – albeit of the porta potty variety. Oh, and it’s attached to the St-Ambroise Microbrewery, so you get to enjoy fresh beer!
As with so many other bike trails in Canada, the Lachine Canal Bike Path is brightened up by often very interesting artwork, such as the statue at the top of this post.
History of the Lachine Canal Bike Path
The Lachine Canal has a lot of history attached to it, and cyclists can stop to read about it on the signposts. The canal was first opened in 1825, and was very important in growing Montreal into a major industrial force. It was usurped by the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, and now it is a Designated National Historic Site. The Lachine Canal Bike Path was opened in 1978, and is the oldest bike path in Montreal.
The Lachine Canal Bike Path is wonderful, because it connects to an entire network of other great bike routes. There is no better place to start your cycling holiday in Montreal than exploring the Lachine Canal Bike Path. Along the way, enjoy the site and stop to admire working locks such as this one:
Parc René-Levesque on the Lachine Canal Bike Path
If you make it right to the end of the Lachine Canal Bike Path, you’re in for a treat. The route ends at the Parc René-Levesque, which admits only pedestrians and cyclists (no cars!). You can stop and grab a well-deserved ice-cream at the gate of the park, then proceed for about another kilometer (half a mile) to the very scenic endpoint (and some well-maintained washrooms!).
At the end of the bike path, before it loops back, you look out across a massive body of clear blue water. You have reached the Saint Lawrence Seaway, and are looking out on Lake Saint-Louis. This is a lake that adjoins the Island of Montreal at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers.
Once you park your bike and join the other cyclists relaxing on benches, you can actually see a line in the middle of the lake where the two different-colored waters meet.
After soaking up the sun and views, you can either cycle further, following the 8 km (5 miles) Lakeshore path, or head back to the Old Port for a well-deserved ice-cream, beer or dinner! Fine food and wine never tastes better than when you’ve been cycling in Montreal all day long …
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