‘Bois de Liesse’ Revisited — Hiking in the Burbs

The suburbs of Montreal offer really good hiking spots for families with children who like nature and who like to hike.  We always like to go to Bois de Liesse for hikes in the western suburbs, mainly because it’s close to home.  Lil Chica is now familiar with the spot, and she recognizes the trails from her past few visits.   As usual, we play our favourite game ‘hide and seek’ and keep everyone happy with snacks.

**Please note that I used the Trip Advisor link above, because the official site is in French only.  Most readers here are anglophone.**

This trail is especially good for those ex-Montrealers who want to stretch their legs before getting onto the 401 autoroute (via the 40) for that long drive back to the Toronto.  There are many trail heads and entrances to Bois de Liesse, so here’s the easiest way to get there if you’re on your way back to Toronto:

Take the Autoroute 40 westbound; take the Henri-Bourassa or Highway 13 exit.; then you follow the service road until you get to Sunnybrooke.  Take a right onto Sunnybrooke Blvd for a few 100m and park on the roadside across from Rue Saturn.  The entrance sign to the park is right in front of you:

Bois in the Burbs

The Entrance off of Sunnybrooke Blvd.

It’s shady in the summer, so bring plenty of mosquito repellent.  The best hikes for me have been in the spring and fall.

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Morton Arboretum — Hiking in the Burbs

She was happily skipping rocks, and then... she hit water.

She was happily skipping on rocks, and then… she hit water.

A couple weeks ago while chilling in the Burbs of Chicago, we spend most of the afternoon at an awesome spot.  The family was identifying trees, hiking, exploring, bird-watching, cycling, and chilling out in the outdoors at the Morton Arboretum.  The Children’s Garden was our spot for a few hours, or so.  There was so much to do.  We spent most of our time at the Kid’s Tree Walk, Wonder Pond, and Under the Trees tree-trekking.  When we weren’t in the Children’s Garden, we were figuring things out in the Maze Garden.  There are two mazes — one for children and one for taller folk.  They both offered age-appropriate challenges.  Lil Chica was having such a good time that she did not even let out the expected wail when she hit the water while skipping on rocks in the Wonder Pond.  Yup!  A parent’s paradise, if only for that.

If I lived in the Chicago area, I’d surely take out a membership at the Arboretum, not only for my children, but also for myself.  It was time well spent, and I hope to visit again on my next trip to the Chicago suburbs.

There are many places that offer these activities in the Toronto area, but there are not any that I know of with so many of these activities under one ‘roof’.  If any GTA-ers can correct me, let me know.  Otherwise, I can’t wait to get back to Morton Arboretum.

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Keeping Mosquitoes Away … Naturally-ish

It’s summer.  It’s a perfect day for a morning hike or evening walk.  It’s the day that the mosquitoes love to get out, too, if only to pester you and your kiddies.  But, not to worry.  Just about anything with citronella or eucalyptus oils will keep mosquitoes away for some length of time.  Here are a few products that I’ve used and liked:


Aroma Crystal Therapy Ltd.’s Aromatic Outdoor Eazz Spray:  It says it’s for itch relief, but we’ve used it on short hikes  and in the yard as a repellent for up to an hour.  It keeps the mosquitoes away well enough.  After that, you need to spray it on again.  But, we like it.  Smells really nice.

Family Buzz Patch:  **The link is from an online store, but that’s the best I could find.**  We use one patch only per person.  We have stuck the patch on our clothes, and it works for a 1-metre radius.  This is a long-lasting citronella and eucalyptus patch that sticks well and is easy to remove (no gluey residue on your clothes).  It says it is good for up to 8 hours, and, for us, that means days when we are outdoors all day… long hikes or full-backyard days.  We like them in summer.

Earth Girl Bug Spray:  This is from a local (East Toronto) person’s home recipe.  She uses several oils, including citronella, lavender, and peppermint.  It works really well for about an hour and smells awesome.  Then you have to spray more on.  We used it in Chicago this past summer 2015, and many people at outdoor sites commented on how nice it smelled.  Imagine that!  They don’t have a website that I know of, but the photo is here.

We have used other things in the past like Clip-On mosquito repellents (the one with the fan that needs batteries), but I won’t comment on its effectiveness or how fragile the clip-on apparatus works or not, whether it ever broke on me, or if I ever had to use elastics to hold the clip-on fan apparatus together.

Not all of these products are easy to find, though.  Sometimes, you’ll go to the natural pharmaceuticals store, and the naturalist will lead you to anti-itch products that are also mosquito repellent.  The problem is that not all of the eucalyptus and citronella products have been ‘approved’ by Health Canada’ or by the US FDA for repelling mosquitoes, mostly because… well… you know… big pharma has power over what many governments choose to do.  They might only have been approved for soothing itches.

There are many natural products that work for me, and there will surely be one out there that you can try.  Let me know what works for you.

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