Updated September 2015

The Bonjour Québec tourism site has a foliage map showing how the leaves are doing in different parts of Quebec.

Quebec is one of the world's best places for seeing autumn foliage, a tradition sometimes called leaf-peeping. The Japanese also have a word for it: momijigari. In this part of Canada not only do our trees turn yellow, gold and orange in autumn, our sumacs and sugar maples turn fiery tones of red as well, so that the colour combinations are stupendous at their peak in late September to mid-October, and often well into November.

Montreal island itself has several fine locations for a walk or drive among the bright autumn trees or, if you can get out of town, there are hilly drives in several directions that will bring you out among the fall colours.

The place any Montrealer instinctively turns to for an autumn walk is Mount Royal Park, and its location, accessibility and visual splendour are hard to equal. The 11 bus (eastbound | westbound) makes access simple, or you can walk uphill from the downtown core, or saunter up the path that winds from the Cartier monument on Park Avenue up towards Beaver Lake. The escarpment trail on the east side of Mount Royal is especially glorious at autumn's peak.

Also sharing the top of Mount Royal are two large graveyards, Notre-Dame-des-Neiges and Mount Royal cemeteries. These both offer the possibility of interesting walks on extensive roadways under the trees and both can be stunning on a mellow autumn afternoon.

Montreal has other parks that are excellent autumn spots: Angrignon, Maisonneuve and Jean-Drapeau parks are all at least partly wooded and will be bedecked with colour. Maisonneuve Park has the virtue of being alongside the Botanical Garden, which offers the Jardins de lumière Chinese lantern festival from September 4 till November 1, every night till 9 p.m.

Some distance from the city core, but technically still reachable by STM bus, are a number of nature parks, each offering its own combination of woods, fields and water. Even a drive up the Chemin de l'Anse à l'Orme from Highway 40 to Cap Saint-Jacques will reveal constantly changing vistas of colour and make you forget you're so close to the city.

In addition, the Îles de Boucherville, the closest provincial park (parc national) to the Montreal area, are only a short drive from the city via the L-H-Lafontaine tunnel. The tallest and oldest trees in the whole Hochelaga archipelago can be found on these islands and in the Île Bizard nature park. (None of the Mount Royal trees are this tall because of the notorious deforestation carried out there in the 1950s in the early years of Jean Drapeau in an attempt to reduce "immorality" in the park's underbrush.)

For those who wish to venture out of the metropolitan area, the broadest choice is between north and southeast. Northwards lie the Laurentians, one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world and thus not one of the highest, having been ground down by innumerable glaciers in earlier eras, but which are still hilly adventures with plenty of winding roads and picturesque views. These hills are known for their ski resorts, Mont Tremblant being the most prominent, but they are also the site of many country retreats, quaint villages and farms. Here are driving directions from Peel and Ste-Catherine to Mont-Tremblant, but you may find yourself taking side roads or stopping for other views en passant.

Southeast of Montreal there are the other Monteregian hills with Mont Saint-Bruno (213m, with a provincial park), Mont Saint-Hilaire (411m, with a nature centre that belongs to McGill University), Rougemont (381m) and Mont Saint-Grégoire (237m) being the closest. These are the hills visible from Montreal's lookout, upwellings of hard rock that endured through glacial scourings to stand today as mountains on the soft plains of southern Quebec. They are interesting rugged little mountains and have fascinating geological qualities, flora and fauna.

In autumn, this is apple country, and these mountains make a great day trip from Montreal both to appreciate the foliage and stop by roadside stands to taste Quebec's typical apples, the McIntosh, Lobo, Spartan and Cortland. To get to the Monteregian Hills, take the Jacques-Cartier bridge and highways 112 or 116, and you'll soon be out among them.

Here's a nice piece in La Presse suggesting various seasonal walks in nature parks close to Montreal. A more recent piece in l'Actualité also looks at the possibilities. Both articles are in French.

Fall foliage in Quebec tends to peak in mid-October and often remains delightful for most of that month. When does the foliage come to an end? Some years, autumn's windstorms will blow away most of the leaves by Halloween, but in other years they may linger on well into November. It's impossible to make an exact prediction.