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Hiking trails in and around Toronto

Posted by Guest Contributor / June 6, 2012

Hiking Trails TorontoHiking trails in Toronto exemplify the city's quaint, and somewhat hyperbolic, slogan, "A City within a Park." With the federal government allotting funds in the 2012 budget to turn the Rouge Valley into a National Park, Toronto's wonderful hiking trails are finally getting their due. Whether you're a seasoned hiker, or interested in taking a stroll through Toronto's green spaces, the city's three major rivers and park system offer scenic and invigorating adventures within our municipal borders.

Here are some of my favourite hiking trails in and around Toronto.

Finch Meander Trail (Morningview Trail and Old Finch Avenue)
The east end of Toronto is particularly gifted with a variety of natural features that lend themselves to parks. Starting at the northeast corner of Toronto is the Finch Meander Trail. This out-of-the-way spot offers a short trail, only about 250 metres, through gently sloping terrain leading to the bank of the Rouge River. Beyond the trail is grassland and forest and a bluff-like formation to the southeast. It's a great trail for a weekend stroll.

Cedar Trail (Meadowvale Road and Old Finch Avenue)
Cedar Trail is a longer trail in the Rouge River Valley, and set apart from the Rouge River itself. This 2.2 kilometre trail runs parallel to the Little Rouge Creek and crosses through various ecosystems, including wetlands and meadows. This is a more difficult trail than the Finch Meander Trail, with varying gradations, some of which are steep and awkward.

Mast Trail (7450 Kingston Road)
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 is also 2.2 kilometres, covering challenging terrain between the Rouge River and the Little Rouge Creek.

Highland Creek Trail (Old Kingston Road)
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, making it versatile for any number of outdoor activities. 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. The trail ends at East Point Park, a park similar to Bluffer's Park but more remote, giving it the sense of being somewhat untouched.

Morningside Park Trail (Morningside and Ellesmere Road)
Morningside Park Trail provides 3 kilometres of most asphalt trail, not ideal for rough mountain biking, but great for a good walk, beautiful sights, and picnics. Much of the park is depressed into the ground, with slopes all around it. This trail is family-friendly located in the centre of Scarborough, easily accessible and not far from restaurants and amenities.

hiking torontoBluffer's Park (Brimley Road and Kingston)
Bluffer's Park is another wilderness feature located in an easily accessible part of Scarborough with several parking lots. Although much of the park is sand and not ideal for cycling, there is a gravel trail at one end of the park. Like East Point Park, Bluffer's Park gives visitors an opportunity to explore the 14-kilometre geological feature that is the Scarborough Bluffs. Unlike the crowded, volleyball and boardwalk beaches further west, this park provides stunning views of bluffs formed by the Wisconsin Glacier, 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.

Taylor Creek Park (Woodbine and O'Connor Drive)
Taylor Creek Park is a thin slice of wilderness cutting through East York suburbs. Its 3.5 kilometre trail is great for hiking and cycling. Several different ecosystems dot this Don River tributary and offer glimpses of a variety of wildlife and regionally rare plants species.

Don Valley Trails (Pottery Road)
The Don Valley offers 11 kilometres of trails through steep-sided green spaces deep in the city. The asphalt trails are great for walking, hiking, cycling, and jogging and there is plenty to explore when you step off the beaten path. There are narrow ravines and wide-open spaces, offering a variety of environments to hike across and through. The recently revitalized Crothers' Woods is an inner city hiker's dream.

Cedarvale Ravine and the Beltline Trail (Rosedale Walley Road and Bayview Avenue)
The Cedarvale Ravine and the Beltline Trail is a 7 kilometre trail running in a lasso shape in the very heart of the city. You cannot walk perpendicular to the trail very far before encountering urbanity, but aside from a respite from the city, this trail offers a glimpse into Toronto's industrial history, as it travels the route of the old Beltline Railway, a commuter rail service built to serve the north of the city in the 1800s.

High Park (1873 Bloor Street West)
Moving toward the city's west end, High Park is the elephant in the room in any discussion of hiking in Toronto. This imposing, 161 hectare park, smack in the middle of Canada's largest city is a sight to behold. Unlike the steep terrain of the many river valleys in the city, which make development next to impossible, High Park stands defiantly in the face of urbanization. Its seven kilometres of asphalt trails 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 is plenty to explore away from the trail.

The West Humber Trail (Finch Avenue and Humber College Boulevard)
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 6 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 Humber River, Old Mill and Marshes (Bloor Street and Old Mill Road)
The Humber River, Old Mill and Marshes area of the city boasts 7.3 kilometres of asphalt trails and several important wildlife and heritage sites. There are remnants of the Old Mill, the third mill constructed there, and the arched stone bridge, built in 1916. The Toronto Carrying Place Trail, known also as the Humber Portage, an important route for Natives and traders, east of the river, is a trail rich with history and wilderness. The Humber River and surrounding marshes make up the largest watershed in Toronto. This region is an important migratory corridor for both birds and butterflies and its waters are home to over 60 species of fish, making it a rare treat nestle in the middle of such a vast metropolis.

Writing by Jeff Dupuis. Photos by Derek Flack and Seeing Is in the blogTO Flickr pool

Discussion

14 Comments

BH / June 6, 2012 at 09:19 am
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Great article. It's nice to know about hiking places that aren't a half hour or more drive from Toronto.
Pk / June 6, 2012 at 09:32 am
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A trip to the Scarborough Bluffs is always worth it. It's feels a million miles away from everything and everyone, even if the park is busy.
RobertB / June 6, 2012 at 09:48 am
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More than a half hour drive but I recomend Glen Major Forest/Walker's Woods, managed by the Greater Toronto Conservation Authority. Almost 100km of trails for mountain bikers and hikers alike, over 1700 hectares of forest and meadow. Something for every level of fitness.
But. replying to a comment from Pk / June 6, 2012 at 09:55 am
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Scarbo is a million miles away.
Sulu / June 6, 2012 at 11:24 am
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If you want to stay within a few hundred metres of Yonge Street, Yellow Creek, the ravine at David A. Balfour Park has beautiful hiking trails. There is a lower path on the east side of the ravine and a more rugged path winding along the west side. The North end of the trail connects to Mount Pleasant Cemetary and the South end crosses Mount Pleasant into "Butterfly Meadow" and down towards the Don and the Brickworks. (note: At the northeast corner of the ravine there is a popular gay cruising spot, so if that's not your thing, just avert your eyes and keep on walking. Just yesterday, I awkwardly passed a few gentlemen who weren't there to birdwatch.)
Philamania / June 6, 2012 at 01:26 pm
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Surprised the Leslie Spit didn't make its way onto the list.
Patrick Connor / June 8, 2012 at 12:18 pm
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Check out ALL the great trails in and around Toronto. The Ontario trails Council is a charity that promotes all types of recreational trail activity. Great post! Thanks
Bjorn Button / August 22, 2012 at 11:04 am
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With all the parking lot construction in Toronto currently, it is nice to get out in nature and enjoy at its best. Toronto does have some of the best forested areas I have ever scene in close proximity to a city.
sharon / November 29, 2012 at 12:51 pm
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Try this website as wel, it's organize and clear,
and you'll be able to find some more trail and interesting
places to visit

http://www.allfamilytravels.com/
Jona / June 3, 2013 at 11:43 pm
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Rouge River Park - can try the trail access off Steeles ave for some gorgeous river-side hiking as well. It winds a good ways with many picturesque picnic spots, where you can sit on rocks near the wild mint and watch the little crayfish fight each other. Today we saw a young family of ducks.

Great tip on Cedar Trail, will check that out too.

And let's ignore people who overlook the east end with all its riches of nature parks and great landforms. One visit to Bluffers Park will silence the doubters, so let's share the secret and drag them along if they will come.
Dave / June 20, 2013 at 03:22 pm
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Webster Falls[IMG]http://filesharecdn.orderdynamics.com/odfileshareroot/221aaf7b37a143e9b4e665399b1526fd/Hiking%20at%20Webster%27s%20Falls.jpg[/IMG]

The most fun filled hiking you could ever go for. Webster falls is very near to Hamilton and is in the border of GTA. If you miss this spot for hiking during this summer then you really miss a great deal in life. Most importantly please buy a good pair of Hiking shoes from,my wife really had a very bad time when we first went for hiking her shoe just broke and we had to quit in the middle our disasterous hiking trip. Next time I made sure this will not happen, so I googled and found the right hiking shoes, if you guys go for this adventure, please as an experienced guy I would recommend you to go online and shop at Walking on a cloud website http://www.walkingonacloud.ca/, they have the best deals for fantastic hiking shoes from Merrell, Keen, Rockport and New Balance. You won't regret, really just because of my bitter experience I am trying to shed some light for you to have a wonderful hiking trip. Enjoy my friends.....

Dave
Joanne / October 13, 2013 at 10:26 pm
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Looks like you said "Rosedale Walley" versus "Rosedale Valley".
Olivia B. / September 13, 2014 at 02:32 pm
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Been going to high park for years and always get a good hike there.

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