10 incredible hiking trails in and around Toronto
Hiking trails in Toronto exemplify the city's quaint and somewhat hyperbolic slogan, "a city within a park." Thanks to our robust ravine system, we're blessed with a smattering of hiking options without having to leave the city, but there are also amazing destinations less than an hour's drive away.
Here are my picks for awesome hiking trails in and around Toronto.
Cedar Trail is a longer trail in the Rouge River Valley. This just over two kilometre trail runs parallel to the Little Rouge Creek and crosses through various ecosystems, including wetlands and meadows. This is a challenging with varying gradations, some of which are steep and awkward.
Mast Trail, formerly a logging route where lumber was sent to Europe for ship building, is a 200 year-old trail through mature forest and a lush fern floor. It's also just over two kilometres, covering challenging terrain between the Rouge River and the Little Rouge Creek.
Colonel Danforth Park's Highland Creek Trail follows its namesake through a valley as it flows towards Lake Ontario. This 11 kilometre trail has paved, soil-compacted grass and gravel sections. It's a beautiful park for a relaxing stroll or a bike ride, but has the distance and features necessary to make for a challenging hike.
Unlike the crowded, volleyball and boardwalk beaches further west, this park provides stunning views of bluffs formed by the Wisconsin Glacier some 12,000 years ago. Once you stray to the east, away from the washrooms and parking lots, you won't encounter anything but shoreline and cliff-face until Pickering.
The Don Valley offers 11 kilometres of trails through steep-sided green spaces deep in the city. There are narrow ravines and wide-open spaces, offering a variety of environments to hike across and through. The area around Crothers Woods in particular is an inner city hiker's dream.
The numerous trails that line this natural sanctuary are an ideal place for a relaxing walk to escape the feeling of downtown. Since one-third of the park is left in its natural state, with rare plant species and the original oak savannah that once covered much of the Toronto, there's plenty to explore away from the trail.
Toronto's last major river valley, the Humber, like the Don and Rouge river systems, does not disappoint the avid hiker. The West Humber Trail offers up six kilometres of both paved and hard-packed trails leading to some significant features in the city's west end, including the Humber Arboretum and the Humberwod Centre.
The trails around Dundas Peak offer views of some of Hamilton's most stunning waterfalls, but the ultimate highlight might just be the lookout that juts out over the valley and makes for some incredible photo opportunities. Make sure to check out Webster and Tews Falls along the way to the lookout over Spencer Gorge.
While Rattlesnake point is a more popular destination, the nearby Mount Nemo might just have more to offer. The hiking trails here overlap with the Bruce Trail and lead to an amazing lookout that offers a view of the Toronto skyline way off in the distance. It's incredible.
The trails at this conservation area along the West Credit River aren't particularly challenging, but what makes the area epic is the pure beauty of the natural landscape. From the picturesque suspension bridge to the views across the gorge below, there's lots to fall in love with here.
Derek Flack. With files from Jeff Dupuis.
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