Trail Feet: Hiking Mont Saint Hilaire

Don’t ask why, but I’ve become obsessed with needing the outdoors. Maybe it was the concrete of Korea and the manicured urbanity of the UK, but the Canadian in me is craving some wilderness.

I’ve been reading Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods to help me with my fix, but alas reading wasn’t good enough. I needed to get onto some trails myself.

So, as I mentioned in my previous post, I messaged my best friend from high school, Shiloh, and together we took a hike.

2016 Hiking Mont Saint Hilaire View From Lookout small
View from a lookout on Mont Saint Hilaire.

Shiloh suggested Mont Saint Hilaire since it’s the closest (about a 30 minute drive from Chambly or maybe an hour-ish from Montreal depending on your route), and the cheapest. At $6 per person which includes parking, use of well-maintained bathrooms, and access to all trails, it was definitely budget friendly.

Most importantly, it’s also a fairly beginner/intermediate “mountain” for those breaking back into the woods. Truth be told, it’s really a hill at only 1, 358 feet, so most of the trails are pretty tame. That said, it has some steep inclines. Unlike a lot of the European and Korean trails, you’ll also be walking on roots and stones instead of evenly cleared ground. Which I absolutely love.

2016 Hiking Mont Saint Hilaire Trail on Hill small
The wild trails of Mont Saint Hilaire – make sure you bring your hiking boots!

There are a bunch of different colour-coded trail options – some curving around the side of the mountain, others scaling the peak, and others still looping towards a lake for some peaceful reflection (quite literally as the water is completely still).

We chose to take the orange trail, which Shiloh recommended for its more rugged terrain.

2016 Hiking Mont Saint Hilaire Orange Trail Dot small
Our orange trail markers, placed every 50 feet or so.

Not even my walks in hilly Hastings fully prepared me for how steep the trail became at times. We were panting in no time. Still, if you have to have a lung hanging out of your mouth, it might as well be in the pure-filtered forest air.

Shiloh was very patient with me as I stopped to take pictures and film mossy logs, mushrooms, and the first buddings of spring flowers for another Otherwise Chronicle video. She in turn managed to snag some shots of me.

2016 Hiking Mont Saint Hilaire Shiloh's Portrait of Me
Shiloh captured me on film all artsy.

Considering I’ve been living with daffodils since January, Canada is a bit behind in its spring. The leaves aren’t quite unfurled yet. Only the most preliminary flowers have opened. The air still has a nip to it when the wind blows.

Even so, I love this part of the season. Summer is great, but nothing beats the anticipation of spring – the awakening of the world again after the long, deep-freeze slumber. The sunlight lingers longer. You don’t have to think about winter for another few months yet. There’s so much warm weather ahead.

2016 Hiking Mont Saint Hilaire Fallen Tree small
The world coming to life ever so slow.

We hiked for a good hour then took the detour to the lake where we ate some snacks and read in the comforting stillness of the valley. I didn’t get any photos of the lake as I was too busy filming it, but hopefully the next video will be coming soon and I can share it.

All I’ll say for now is that if you’re in the Montérégie area and have a car, Mont Saint Hilaire is one of the best places to get your woodland fix. Shiloh and I are coming back for sure and plan on hiking to the top by the end of the summer. Though probably sooner.

You can take the girl out of the wild, but you can’t take the wild out of the girl.


2 thoughts on “Trail Feet: Hiking Mont Saint Hilaire

  1. There really is nothing like being out in the wild. After my Euro jaunts I got more into hiking, skiing and canoeing…just needed to be within the natural world. It’s touching base with reality. Cleansing.

    Liked by 1 person

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