The top 5 bike trails in Toronto
Cycling 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.