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The top 5 bike trails in Toronto

Posted by Derek Flack / April 15, 2014

Bike Trails TorontoCycling trails in Toronto offer sanctuary from both vehicular traffic and the general hustle and bustle of city life. We are a city blessed with ravines, and that is a very good thing if you like to ride your bike off road. While Toronto is also endowed with a healthy number of bike paths, the idea here is to focus in on unpaved places to ride your bike, where you can sometimes fool yourself that you've left the city altogether. The level of difficulty of these trails varies widely, so you need not own a full suspension mountain bike to enjoy all of the off-road opportunities around town. And, unsurprisingly, should you wish to drive a short distance outside the city, there's a ton of trail systems to choose from.

Here are the top 5 bike trails in Toronto.

Don Valley Ridge Trails
The trails that line the ravine wall of the Don Valley have been around since the mid-1980s (and possibly before), but it's only in the last decade or so that intense efforts have been made at trail management to help diminish the effects of erosion and overuse. These trails aren't for novices, with plenty of off-camber sections, some North Shore-style structures, and plenty of technical sections. If you mountain bike in Toronto, this is your favourite place for a quick ride. Strung together, there's almost 10 kilometres of trails in this system (which actually extends further east than the linked map indicates.

Don Valley River Trails
Along with the more challenging ridge trails, Crothers Woods also offers some more path-like trails around what was once the Sun Valley dump. This section isn't however, particularly extensive. If you're looking to extend your ride and aren't afraid of close encounters with GO trains and CN Rail police, follow the official trail down toward the river, where you can hook up with a mostly flat and winding trail that runs adjacent to the paved Lower Don River Trail (but on the other side of the river).

Belt Line Trail
Much of the Belt Line series of trails is built on an old commuter railway bed that opened int he late 19th century. It was officially converted for trail-use in 1988, though people had been using parts of it in that capacity for years before that. The trail system starts around Caledonia and Eglinton and makes its way all the way to the Don Valley Brick Works (totalling around 9km), though there are a number of at-grade road crossings that you'll need to make. The best section of the trail heads southeast through the Moore Park Ravine. With hard-packed dirt and a steady decline, it's a beautiful stretch of riding that takes very little effort.

Taylor Creek Trail
Taylor Creek isn't a long trail -- just 3.5 kilometres -- but it's a nice diversion if you're looking for an easygoing ride in a natural setting. You can also use these trails to access the Don Valley trail system if you're coming from the east. There's no technical stuff here, just hard-packed dirt with a few winding sections. This would be a good place to introduce someone to off-road riding.

Centennial Park - Etobicoke Creek Trails
Another series of trails well-suited to novice and casual riders, the common way to access these trails is via Centennial Park, though the system does extend toward the 401 in the north. Meandering along both sides of the river the trails have wider path-like sections mixed with stretches of easy-to-ride single-track. There's nothing too difficult here, but the setting is so inviting that west-end riders of all abilities use the trails. There's roughly 10 kilometres of trail in total.

Photo by Collette V in the blogTO Flickr pool.

Discussion

20 Comments

Theo / April 15, 2014 at 01:46 pm
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The western leg of the belt line doesn't actually start there, unless a ride through about five city streets is excused. Still close enough, plus a nice extension of the Prospect Cemetery.
tommy replying to a comment from Theo / April 15, 2014 at 02:22 pm
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What? What part of "around Caledonia and Eglinton" doesn't make sense? And what does Prospect Cemetery have to do with anything?
Toucan Sam / April 15, 2014 at 02:42 pm
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Bike trails in Toronto? Give me a break. No one serious about cycling would consider much in Toronto to be a good ride. For those interested in some real trails, I recommend a few short drives:

Kelso (Glen Eden), Milton
http://www.singletracks.com/bike-trails/kelso.html

Dundas Valley (links to Bruce Trail in Hamilton. Very beautiful along the escarpment)
http://www.singletracks.com/bike-trails/dundas-valley-conservation.html

Hardwood, Barrie
http://www.singletracks.com/bike-trails/hardwood-hills.html

Waterdown Rockliffe, Waterdown
http://www.singletracks.com/bike-trails/rockcliffe-waterdown.html

Puslinch Lake, Cambridge
http://www.singletracks.com/bike-trails/puslinch-lake.html

Shorthills, St Catherines
http://www.singletracks.com/bike-trails/short-hills-provincial-park.html
Rob replying to a comment from Toucan Sam / April 15, 2014 at 03:02 pm
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These are not the best places for novice riders.

Also, many people won't want to ride xc.
Ziona replying to a comment from Toucan Sam / April 15, 2014 at 03:32 pm
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Check the title "...in Toronto". Not "a drive outside of Toronto".
Brian / April 15, 2014 at 04:03 pm
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Toucan.

Kind of strange that you would know of the other trail systems, yet would be so dismissive of the incredible trail network in the Don. Seriously, you need to get out, join any one of the regular rides and understand what's out there.

Beyond the Ridge there are another 30-40 km (possibly more) of great single track all that can be linked together.

Look up TORBA and maybe get to know the effort that so many people put in to build and maintain these trails before you blow them off.

Pierre / April 15, 2014 at 04:20 pm
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The Taylor Creek trail has a number of sections that require cyclists to dismount and carry their bike due to ice storm damage. That being said the MTB community in Toronto is strong and it won't be long before chainsaw wielding cyclists clean things up.
Sammy replying to a comment from Toucan Sam / April 15, 2014 at 04:22 pm
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Bike trails in Ontario? Give me a break. Anyone serious about cycling knows that you need to go to Quebec, BC or Alberta to ride real trails.
Ridge replying to a comment from Toucan Sam / April 15, 2014 at 04:30 pm
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Yo Toucan.

1. who said this list was for "serious" cyclers only.

2. Those of us that are serious, still enjoy riding and training in the city and enjoy the act of cycling regardless of where. I can't make it out to Blue Mountain, Hardwood, or Kelso every night after work, I still liek to give the legs a burn throughout the city.
Joe / April 15, 2014 at 04:41 pm
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I think we can agree it's a bonus we won't see Toucan on any of these trails. Win/win!!
W Tyler / April 15, 2014 at 05:06 pm
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Not surprised blog TO forgot about the west end... what about the humber river trails? so what if it's right next to the ghetto? you can get from HWY 401 to Lake Ontario just by riding down the river, Fun way to explore the city. Start at Weston Golf and Country club!!
Cristine replying to a comment from W Tyler / April 15, 2014 at 07:47 pm
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I agree! I love the Humber River bike trails. I bike down to Lake Ontario every summer on those bike trails.
Gardner / April 15, 2014 at 08:07 pm
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There are many more trails in the GTA area to explore. The Humber trail going north from the lakeshore bridge is a real nice trails among hundreds, literally! You all need to explore them. As for off roads, Kelso and Hardwood are great mtb trails. Common guys, research and you'll find them or better yet, join a group of cyclist and make new buddies!
Range / April 15, 2014 at 10:09 pm
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Yes. This isn't a trail resource but could've been a "top 10" or just a "top trails" post which could've included Number trails, water front path, rouge valley trails in scarborough
Range / April 15, 2014 at 10:10 pm
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Ooopsie. Number trails = humber trails, damn auto correct.
East End Ville / April 15, 2014 at 10:11 pm
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Wow the west end got left out for the first time, OUTRAGE! Try living in the east end we rarely get represented..
Ralph / April 15, 2014 at 10:50 pm
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Written by tye same author in 2010, Humber was included

http://www.blogto.com/toronto/lists/top_toronto_bike_paths/

tommy / April 16, 2014 at 03:31 pm
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Maybe there needs to be some distinction between 'paths' and 'trails' before everyone gets butt-hurt.
DaveyHoegy / May 12, 2014 at 01:28 pm
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"opened int he late" A star spelling and grammar.
Lock / May 19, 2014 at 07:00 pm
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Not a bike trail exactly, but the bike race up Brimley Road South, from near surface of Lake Ontario up to Kingston Road was a def workout last year.

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