6 Urban Hikes in the City of Toronto

Well, now that it’s October, I guess the summer has officially come to an end. It’s been quite the summer, and I’m sad to see it end. I clocked in over 330 km of hiking on various Ontario trails over the course of the summer, making my way through 5 provincial parks, 1 national park, and various other conservation and wilderness areas. Now, I am back at school in the big city of Toronto, and the weather is shifting into the cooler season of autumn. However, that doesn’t mean I have to stop hiking! When you think of Toronto, you probably think of busy streets, skyscrapers, and the CN Tower, but Toronto has plenty of green spaces to explore. In fact, the city is actually known to some as “the city within a park”, due to its extensive park and ravine system. In this post, I will share 6 hiking trails located in the city. Some are more easily accessible than others, but all can be reached via the TTC!

  1. High Park

Distance: As long as you want!
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
How to get there: Easily accessible by subway. Ride to High Park station on the Bloor-Danforth line, and the park is a two-minute walk away. Also accessible by car off Bloor St. West.

high-park

When Torontonians think about hiking in the city, one of the first places to come to mind is High Park. There doesn’t seem to be an exact number available for the length of the trails in the park, but a look at the map shows an extensive network of ‘nature trails’, meaning you can make your walk as long or as short as you please. Visit in the spring to check out the gorgeous cherry blossoms, or in the fall for a show of beautiful autumn colours! The park also features gardens, a large pond, a dog park, picnic areas, a small ‘zoo’, and an awesome adventure playground that I loved as a child (we called it the castle park).

high-park-2

  1. Cedar Trail, Rouge Park

Distance: 2.2 km one way
Difficulty: Moderate
How to get there: The north trailhead can be found off Meadowvale Rd., just north of the intersection with Old Finch Ave. There is limited roadside parking here. There is parking available at the south trailhead near the Rouge Valley Conservation Centre, across the street from the Toronto Zoo main parking area, but fees may apply. To arrive by TTC: Ride the subway to Don Mills station on the Sheppard line, and get on the 85 East bus. Get off the bus at the Zoo Road stop, and the Conservation Centre will be a 3-minute walk away.

cedar-trail

Rouge Park is currently transitioning to become the first national urban park in Canada! Yes, a national park, right in Toronto. The Cedar Trail meanders alongside Little Rouge Creek, passing through various ecosystems including wetlands and old growth forest. The trail features a couple of steep areas, and can make a refreshing 4.4 km out-and-back hike, or can be combined with other trails in the park to make for a longer hike!

 

  1. Mast Trail, Rouge Park

Distance: 2.2 km one way
Difficulty: Moderate to challenging
How to get there: The south trailhead is located at Glen Rouge Campground (7450 Kingston Rd.), where there is free parking available. To arrive by TTC: Ride the subway to Don Mills station on the Sheppard line, and get on the 85 East bus. Get off at the Sheppard Ave. East at Kingston Rd. stop, and walk about a kilometre up Kingston Rd. to the campground.

mast-trail

The Mast Trail is a slightly more challenging trail found within Rouge Park. The trail follows a 200-year-old logging route, and so has a rich history. You will hike over a ridge, making for a challenging walk with many steep areas. Again, this trail could be done as a 4.4 km out-and-back hike, or can be made into a loop by connecting to the Riverside Trail.

 

  1. Beltline Trail

Distance: 9 km
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
How to get there: The beginning of the trail is accessible from the Eglinton West subway station, and you can also jump on in the middle from the Davisville station.

beltline

The Beltline Trail is composed of two main sections, the Kay Gardner Beltline Park and the Ravine Beltline. I frequent the ravine sections on my runs, and it is absolutely lovely. You really can start to feel like you’re deep in a wild forest, and then suddenly you emerge for a second beside the busy DVP, before plunging back into the forest. The trail isn’t too difficult, but there are a few steep areas to contend with. The trail weaves through a variety of different Toronto ravines, and passes by the Don Valley Brickworks. To connect to the Kay Gardner Beltline, the trail passes through Mount Pleasant Cemetery, which makes for a lovely walk on its own. The Kay Gardner trail is a linear park that stretches from the cemetery up to the Allen Road.

beltline-2

  1. Tommy Thompson Park

Distance: 10.3 km of pedestrian trail, 5.3 km of ‘nature trail’
Difficulty: Easy
How to get there: There is free parking available near the entrance to the park (Leslie Street and Unwin Avenue). To arrive by TTC: Take the subway to Donlands station on the Bloor-Danforth line, then board the 83 South bus. Get off the bus at Leslie at Commissioners St., and walk about 600m south on Leslie to the park entrance.

Tommy Thompson Park is located on the Leslie Street Spit, a man-made peninsula extending 5km into Lake Ontario. Here you can find a unique tract of wilderness on Toronto’s waterfront, and experience a variety of habitats including meadows, forests, marshes, beaches, and sand dunes. The park is a very popular spot for bird watching, and you may be able to spot some other wildlife as well! There are a variety of different trails and paths to explore, and you can make your trek as long or short as you want.

ttp

  1. East Don River Trail

Distance: 11km
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
How to get there: Take the subway to Finch station on the Yonge-University Line, board the 53 East bus and get off at Steeles and Leslie. From there, walk a short distance south on Leslie until you come to the dirt path on the south side of the creek. At the end point, you can either loop back around for a nice long trek, or hop on the 95 West bus to York Mills station.

This path travels through the East Don Parkland in the north of Toronto, and follows the route of the Don River. This is the longest trail on the list, offering a 22-km hike if you go out-and-back. The trail travels through some heavily wooded areas, and offers the chance to observe wildlife such as fox, deer, and snapping turtles!

 

And there you have it, 6 hiking trails right in the heart of the city! This is by no means an exhaustive list of Toronto trails, as there are a countless number of parks, ravines, and other green spaces to explore. Now, go forth and hike, urbanites!

*Disclaimer: I have not explored all of these trails myself (but I definitely intend to!), so I cannot personally attest to the accuracy of some of this information*

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