Tuesday, October 21, 2014Cloudy 9°C
Toronto

Top Toronto Bike Paths

Posted by Derek Flack / July 16, 2010

Bike paths torontoThe top bike paths in Toronto aren't made up of too many hidden gems. As it should, the Toronto Cycling Map charts the routes of the various paved and low-difficulty dirt trails across the city. But, due to our plentiful ravines -- where a number of these paths and trails are located -- in the absence of the map and/or a little local knowledge, it's possible to miss some excellent opportunities to ride without fear of (heavy) vehicular traffic.

For the most part, the paths described below are paved and in excess of five kilometres. I have, however, included a few shorter trails and those with hard-packed dirt based on my evaluation of their quality level.

bike paths torontoLower Don Recreation Trail
Extending from the waterfront to Taylor Creek and E. T. Seton parks, the Don trail system is one the best ways to enjoy nature without leaving the city. Winding along the river, the paved pathway is mostly flat and remains in pretty good condition (though road cyclists will want to be careful on the section south of Pottery Rd. due to an influx of sand on the path). There are numerous entry points to this pathway, with mains ones at Cherry St. and Lakeshore Blvd., Riverdale Park (look for the bridge), Pottery Road and the previously mentioned connecting trails.

Martin Goodman Trail
Without a doubt, the trail that I find myself on most often. Part of the more extensive Waterfront Trail, the MGT extends from around Park Lawn Avenue almost all the way to the R.C. Harris Filtration plant near Queen St. and Victoria Park. Although there have been renovations to the trail near Ontario Place, there are some significant gaps that'll put you in contact with traffic -- notably on Queen's Quay and Cherry St. But these streets don't pose a great danger to cyclists. The best time to ride on the MGT? When it's hot! Temperatures by the Lake can be as much as three to five degrees cooler depending on the weather.

bike paths torontoHumber Valley Trail System
Exceeding the Don system in length, with only a few detours onto surface routes, you can take the paths along the Humber all the way from the lake to the top of the city. The paving is a little rough in places and exiting the trail usually necessitates a bit of a climb, but all things considered, one could spend hours exploring this tranquil parkland. There are loads of access points, including the foot of the river, Old Dundas Rd. and Eglinton Ave.

Taylor Creek Park
Some would consider the Taylor Creek trail part of the Lower Don because many cyclists hit both trails in a given ride, but technically speaking, they're separate entities. Starting from the meeting place of the Lower Don and E. T. Seton trails (Don Mills just north of O'Conner Dr.) this pathway heads southeast to Victoria Park criss-crossing Taylor Creek along the way. In my experience, this is one of the least trafficked pathways in the city, giving riders the ability to maintain a decent clip (just watch the hard turns before and after the mini-bridges).

Leslie Street Spit (Tommy Thompson Park)
Although only open on weekends, I often see people riding on the Leslie St. Spit during the week. An often windy corridor of land that juts out into the Lake, Tommy Thompson Park offers some great views of the skyline and the process by which land is slowly reclaimed by nature. Best time to ride? During the annual CNE Air Show in August, when you'll be treated to some excellent views of the planes over the harbour. The one and only access point is Unwin Avenue and Leslie St.

bike paths torontoKay Gardner Beltline Park
Originally a commuter railway built to service what were then suburbs like Moore Park, the Beltline was officially converted into a recreational path in 1999 (though sections of it were in use before then). Neither long nor paved, when combined with the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery and the Moore Park Ravine, the Beltline is an integral part of trail system that lets one ride off major surface routes from Caledonia and Eglinton to the Don Valley Brickworks. Main Access points at Merton and Yonge, Oriole Park and Bathurst just south of Roselawn.

Mt. Pleasant Cemetery
Not really a trail system so much as series of low traffic roads, the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery may be private property but remains an inviting place for respectful cyclists. Full of winding roads that undulate gently, I spent much of my youth exploring the gorgeous grounds here. Access points on Moore in between Mt. Pleasant and Bayview and Yonge St. just north of Heath (on the east side).

Moore Park Ravine
A short all-downhill trail (if you start at the north end), the Moore Park Ravine is a pretty little dirt path that takes riders to the Brickworks or allows them to loop around and climb out of the ravine at David A. Balfour park. Beware! Travelling north on this trail system is always uphill: slow and steady towards Moore Rd. and steep as hell up the ravine wall near St. Clair and Pleasant Ave.

bike path TorontoE. T. Seton Park / Sunnybrook Park
Technically two separate trail systems, I've never differentiated between them. Alternating between low-traffic park roads and dedicated bike pathways, both of these trails can get very busy on weekends. Although not necessarily a bad thing, those looking for a tranquil ride will want to visit during the week or look elsewhere on Saturdays and Sundays. Both of these paths feature many break-off trails for leisure riders (towards Edwards Gardens) and mountain bikers (on the west side of the river). Key access points: Off Don Mills Rd. (down the hill to the southwest of the Science Centre and off Leslie just north of Eglinton (westside).

Morningside Park / Colonel Danforth Park
For those in Scarborough, there's a great set of paved paths that bisect U of T's campus while heading from Kingston Road to the Bluffs (and vice versa). On the east end, you can even hook up with a trail that'll take you to Pickering.

West Toronto Railpath
An honourable mention goes to the West Toronto Railpath, which when complete, will be a great way to get from the west end to the heart of downtown (and back again). With phase one of the project complete, there is currently about 2.1 kilometres of trail in use. Main access point: Cariboo Avenue, just north of Dupont Street (in the Junction) and Dundas and Sterling.

For a copy of the Toronto Cycling Map, visit here.Toronto Cycling MapPhotos by Reza Vaziri, andyscamera, Chewie2008, LĂș_ and St-Even.

Discussion

60 Comments

Ryan L. / July 16, 2010 at 04:37 pm
user-pic
FYI: The Martin Goodman doesn't quite make it to the R.C. Harris Filtration plant. It stops a few blocks (or a half km) west of it. If you want to keep going to RC, you'll have to head north to Queen and continue along that. Worth the extra trip though as R.C. Harris' road is curvy and downhill and fun to coast down.
Ryan L. replying to a comment from Ryan L. / July 16, 2010 at 04:51 pm
user-pic
Also, the trail near Woodbine Beach can be frustrating during a hot weekend as people consistently stand around or walk on the pathway (despite there being a perfectly good boardwalk 5 feet away).. Still, worth it since there's a nice, scenic pathway down Ashbridges Bay Park. Not as nearly as lengthy as the nearby Tommy Thompson park, but you aren't as likely to get pooped on by birds here.
jamesmallon replying to a comment from Ryan L. / July 16, 2010 at 05:49 pm
user-pic
That people don't understand walk/ride/drive right drives me nuts. That they have to wander all over the path when there is a perfectly fine boardwalk for zombie sauntering makes me apoplectic.

And since I am in a pissy mood:
Lower Don Trail - do they do any maintainance?
Martin Goodman Trail - nice, but for the discontinuity.
Humber Valley - same as Martin Goodman
Taylor Creek - same as Don
Leslie Spit - good, limited hours, mosquitos
Beltline - see Martin Goodman

Moore Park and Mt. Pleasant - nice, take you nowhere
But this sad lot is what I often use, because nobody knows how to drive in this city, and though I ride in traffic, using the paths lowers my exposure to the morons in taxis and vans from the 'burbs. Very looking forward to my two years abroad!
W. K. Lis / July 16, 2010 at 07:21 pm
user-pic
Closest to an Ontario Bicyclist Handbook is available online at http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/pubs/cycling-guide/index.shtml or you can download a PDF version at http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/pubs/cycling-guide/pdfs/cycling-guide.pdf at 3.5Mb.
Daniel / July 16, 2010 at 07:29 pm
user-pic
The Toronto Island a great place to ride your bike but only during the off-season as it is impossible during the summer with all those tourists.
fairbank / July 16, 2010 at 08:29 pm
user-pic
the 1st pic is just north of me at dufferin and castlefield its a great trail it starts near forest hill and goes to the north end of the city in the west end
jamesmallon / July 16, 2010 at 08:34 pm
user-pic
Outside of the purview of this article, paths in Toronto, but I wish I could find a guide in print or online, that showed me the roads out of town with paved shoulders: there you stand a chance of staying alive.
jamesmallon replying to a comment from W. K. Lis / July 16, 2010 at 08:36 pm
user-pic
Thanks for the link. Too bad the city and province approach all cycling literature as an opportunity to teach us a sport we actually do, unlike the writers.
Gabe / July 17, 2010 at 12:52 am
user-pic
OMG!
Sasha / July 17, 2010 at 12:55 am
user-pic
It is fun to ride the paths in Toronto like the waterfront trail. People whine but they forget how lucky we are to have that kind of designated path in the downtown core.
zappa / July 17, 2010 at 12:59 am
user-pic
Very cool post!
david / July 17, 2010 at 01:50 am
user-pic
It's a shame that the best trails in the city are the ones not shared with motorists,
david / July 17, 2010 at 01:50 am
user-pic
It's a shame that the best trails in the city aren't shared with motorists, coincidence?
Darcy McGee / July 17, 2010 at 05:11 am
user-pic
Amazing. I haven't lived there for about 10 years and the cycling routes haven't changed. Progress indeed.
James / July 17, 2010 at 09:57 am
user-pic
Humber Valley: Last time I rode it, it was badly in need of improved signage: some of it dated from the 1970s and was incorrect.

Waterfront: have to agree with many others above: they are congested and rude pedestrians are a real problem.

German Mills: from Steeles to Shepperd - highly recommended but with a touch of the pedestrian problem on some days.

Unfortunately, Rouge Valley used to be a very popular bike route when I first moved to Scarborough. Perhaps because of Rouge Park's odd status there is no maintenance. The path has now fallen into the meandering river and it is impassable.

Jo / July 17, 2010 at 11:28 am
user-pic

Is anybody advocating for more repsponsible stsandard for Pedestrians ???

Abit of self-awareness, courtesy, and "lane-discipline" could go a long way in smoothing out traffic patterns for everyone...Perhaps it's a "Human Conditioning" issue ?

http://thumbshift.wordpress.com/2010/06/21/problems-with-pedestrians/


Jo
Roger / July 17, 2010 at 01:41 pm
user-pic
Late last night on the Lower Don Recreational trail I encountered two gas-spewing pocket bikes that noisily whizzed past me without any lights on or respect for others on the trail whatsoever.

I caught up to them at the bottom of the trail where they stopped to rest, with their helmets off. They told me they rode all the way from Scarborough. They looked to be about 17 years old. Such carelessness and inconsideration I've never seen on the bike paths of Toronto.
pdalep / July 18, 2010 at 04:31 pm
user-pic
Dovercourt south of dundas is best bike path.
Realist (mostly) / July 19, 2010 at 08:44 am
user-pic
Yeah, scooters and other small bikes with engines can be a nuisance. Some woman on a scooter nearly ran me down the other day on Spadina--she was riding in the bike lane and blew right through one of the red lights between Dundas and College.
Matt / July 19, 2010 at 01:22 pm
user-pic
I am starting to commute to and from work (eglinton GO station to Union Go station). Can anyone suggest a route so I can avoid as much traffic as possible? I don't mind going out of my way a bit.

thanks
Rosita Esgard / July 20, 2010 at 02:19 am
user-pic
I'm moving to Toronto from Sweden early next year, and I'm bringing my bike. I've heard that Toronto is an awful place to bike, but this article sounds at least a little hopeful. I don't expect to be able to bike to work though, as I do here. Toronto is a little bigger than any city in Sweden :-)
Andy replying to a comment from Ryan L. / July 20, 2010 at 04:02 pm
user-pic
I agree with Ryan L., the Martin Goodman through Ashbridges Bay quickly becomes a get-off-and-walk-your-bike path in the summer with all the pedestrian traffic. But I'd rather have them there than in front of a TV with a bowl of chips balanced on their belly.

A nice post. I was looking for something similar for off-road/XC trails a few days ago. Found some info, but a bit harder to find...
@DundasKeele replying to a comment from Rosita Esgard / July 23, 2010 at 11:51 am
user-pic
It gets good, once you start cycling. Let me know when you arrive, I have tons of tips. (Your blog doesn't have contact info?)
@DundasKeele replying to a comment from Rosita Esgard / July 23, 2010 at 11:55 am
user-pic
It gets better once you start cycling. I've got tons of tips, so find me on twitter when you arrive. (Your blog doesn't have contact info?) Bienvenue!
lolo replying to a comment from jamesmallon / July 23, 2010 at 09:21 pm
user-pic
@ jamesmallon: don't know where you're going but I sure wish you luck and patience - the Toronto drivers are the most cyclist-friendly ones I've seen. That doesn't mean they're friendly. It just means that other cities (countries/continents) are a lot worse.
jamesmallon replying to a comment from lolo / July 23, 2010 at 11:19 pm
user-pic
Ha! Nice bud you're smoking. If I am going to Holland, Denmark, Japan, or some others, you're wrong!
Kevo replying to a comment from Rosita Esgard / July 25, 2010 at 11:02 am
user-pic
Nah, it's not the most bike friendly city, but I sort of enjoy the chaos of riding on the streets instead of the paths. When you ride in the Humber Valley path though, the only hints that you're in a big city are the high rises poking above the trees along with people along the paths. If you really want peace and quiet, there are a lot of places you can go (if you have car) that are less an hour out of the city.

One path I really want to try out is the Don Valley path that runs from Dawes Road down to the mouth. Check out the pictures and path at Torontoist http://torontoist.com/2010/07/cycling_secrets_of_the_don_valley.php (your competitor? ;))
Vivy / July 26, 2010 at 12:33 pm
user-pic
I wish that pedestrians in the Beaches would use the boardwalk instead of the bike/rollers parth... I almost get a road-rage episodes when I see how people are not careful on the bike path (letting very small kids running around sideways, bunch of people taking over the whole path walking in the middle and making it difficult to go around them, etc...). My only consolation is to know that must of these airheads are not from the area...it's mostly a weekend's problem.
Katarina replying to a comment from Vivy / July 28, 2010 at 11:42 am
user-pic
Many of you are complaining about pedestrians on the Waterfront Trail: it's a multi-use trail... they have as much right to be there as anyone, it's not just for cyclists to run a time trial on. When I'm biking along at Ashbridges, I wish I didn't have to dodge people, too, but that's life in a civilized society. As cyclists, we wish motorists would show us more consideration & be better about sharing the road, but then we turn on pedestrians who don't scramble to get out of the way??? They aren't required to use the boardwalk: some people don't like sand in their shoes, some people prefer the shade of the path. I agree that there are people walking who are inconsiderate (spreading out over both lanes of the path, etc) but this attitude only leads to more selfishness; after we get rid of pedestrians, cyclists will want rollerbladers gone, and then slow cyclists will be next on the hit list.
ttraveller / August 11, 2010 at 06:18 am
user-pic
Just thought you folks might be interested in THIS WEEK'S postings to the bike path Board for Melbourne Australia (a city the about the size of Toronto with over 4700 bike paths.) http://www.bikely.com/listpaths/country/14/region/1/city/1225
Jessica Chen / August 16, 2010 at 11:43 pm
user-pic
@DundasKeele, in a recent post to Rosita Esgard you mentioned you have lots of tips. Care to share some? I am moving from North York downtown, hopefully to High Park soon. Will be having my bike shipped from Seattle where I was just living for a year. Lots more bike lanes there, but as I am back in Toronto I need to become familiar with some good routes!

Thanks kindly,
Jessica
Jessica Chen replying to a comment from @DundasKeele / August 16, 2010 at 11:43 pm
user-pic
@DundasKeele, in a recent post to Rosita Esgard you mentioned you have lots of tips. Care to share some? I am moving from North York downtown, hopefully to High Park soon. Will be having my bike shipped from Seattle where I was just living for a year. Lots more bike lanes there, but as I am back in Toronto I need to become familiar with some good routes!

Thanks kindly,
Jessica
Aditi B / September 6, 2010 at 08:34 pm
user-pic
I personally love the Don and getting lost on streets in Leaside. Thers's never any traffic.

Just to let you fellow cyclists know the Bicycle Factory is giving Canadians the opportunity to help send up to 5,000 bikes to Ghana –by eating candy! Participants also have a chance to win a trip to Ghana to help deliver the bikes. Details are online now at http://thebicyclefactory.ca

Check it out and if you have any questions - let me know!

Thanks - Aditi
Brenda / September 18, 2010 at 08:08 am
user-pic
Has anyone used the bike trail that goes from Lawrence Avenue north up and around Scarborough Campus and then south down to Guildwood? I'm just wondering if it is quite hilly.
lucian replying to a comment from jamesmallon / July 10, 2011 at 06:53 am
user-pic
if you are to go to Romania, Lolo's not wrong :-)
lucian replying to a comment from jamesmallon / July 10, 2011 at 06:54 am
user-pic
@jamesmallon
Elli / October 17, 2011 at 07:47 pm
user-pic
I have an update that could be added - the new Finch Hyrdo Corridor Recreational Trail. It goes from Finch/Norfinch all the way to Yonge (just before where Finch Station is located). It was supposed to be completed at the end of August, but it's been delayed and should be 100% complete in a couple weeks. I've ridden it twice this past month though and it's great. Also, for people who prefer easier-going paths, this one is for you.
William replying to a comment from david / December 3, 2011 at 01:46 pm
user-pic
Are you kidding me? That is what makes them amazing.
William replying to a comment from david / December 3, 2011 at 01:47 pm
user-pic
"david / July 17, 2010 at 01:50 am
It's a shame that the best trails in the city are the ones not shared with motorists"

Are you kidding me? That is what makes them amazing.
Sborw replying to a comment from jamesmallon / December 4, 2011 at 10:22 am
user-pic
I am not clear why you are protesting against pedestrians. I walk this city, I do not own a car and I do not own a bike. When I have to travel further distances I use the mercurial TTC. But I can promise you that cyclists are just as much as a problem to me as the cars/trucks when crossing streets.
Yesterday I walked from Coxwell to the downtown core via Queen. It is astonishing to me how many idiots bike on the sidewalk dinging their bell for me to get out of their way. Seriously, this is a big city and the concept of patience seems to be completely lacking. The Don Valley recreational trail is also highly dangerous as cyclists whizz by with almost a nod of disapproval that I am walking on their path. Get over it and slow down.

And finally that perfectly good board walk you refer to is not that great. Some of the planks are in a state of terrible disrepair and I have tripped more than once. So I can see why others might abandon it for an easier walk, especially the elderly.
Dawn / March 16, 2012 at 09:58 am
user-pic
The Leslie Spit now has speed bumps, which make it unsuitable for biking. Very annoying and hard on tires. It's a shame, as it was a lovely ride away from traffic.
dave replying to a comment from david / July 22, 2012 at 11:33 pm
user-pic
Why is it a shame that these trails aren't shared by motorists???
Suicide_Boi / July 28, 2012 at 12:22 am
user-pic
Speaking of bike paths, the City is conducting a survey about its nature trails: http://wx.toronto.ca/inter/pfr/naturesurvey.nsf/survey?openform
Sushank / August 11, 2012 at 04:20 pm
user-pic
The waterfront trail is a huge disaster.... we are indeed lucky to have a trail like this in the city BUT the rude pedestrians really kill it. I broke my shoulder today because two girls (who had already seen me coming) were too lazy to move to one side of the trail.
John Grimley / March 5, 2013 at 09:29 pm
user-pic
This review is very downtown oriented, with few exceptions.
As one who bikes all over the GTA, I can tell you that this review seems to be from that personal oerspective. The loads of trails beyond those mentioned.
Lastly, the on-road sections of the Martin Goodman "Trail" (between Yonge St & Bathurst St are shamefully dangerous for cyclists. That the city has done very little to reduce accidents in this section is inexcusable. I invite any councillor to bike along Queens Quay and find out for themselves.
Kristen / May 8, 2013 at 08:15 am
user-pic
If slower traffic kept to the right of the path, rather than completely blocking it with their entourage so that it is more safe for cyclists and faster rollerbladers (such as myself :) to pass, that would be an improvement! The way cyclists stuck to the far right of the road, is the way pedestrians should respect the bike paths, that is all I'm asking.
the lemur / May 8, 2013 at 10:10 am
user-pic
Finch and Gatineau hydro corridor trails are pretty good - the former beats riding on Finch and the latter just needs to be connected.

Bayview Woods is nice too, and not busy at all.
Vineca replying to a comment from W. K. Lis / May 17, 2013 at 06:23 pm
user-pic
Thank you! I have a new bike and can't wait to get on a trail.
MIsterLJ replying to a comment from Rosita Esgard / April 6, 2014 at 11:53 am
user-pic
Toronto isn't an awful place to bike. It's decent but not great. Mostly, people just like to complain. I've been biking here for 10 years and never had an accident or major problem.
MIsterLJ replying to a comment from Vivy / April 6, 2014 at 11:56 am
user-pic
It's not great through there, it's true. It's important to remember that it's a busy area with shared-use trails. If you're looking at going more than a casual cycling pace, this is not the spot. I'm as annoyed at other cyclists who rip through there as I am at families who don't watch their kids. We all have a responsibility towards safety.
MIsterLJ replying to a comment from Vivy / April 6, 2014 at 11:56 am
user-pic
Lakeshore to Sunnybrook via Lower Don, back down, east to Vic Park via Taylor Creek, south on VP to the Beaches, west on Lakeshore, then out the Leslie Street spit, back and through the port lands and back to Lower Don. 50k loop that can easily be shortened or extended. It's a great ride.
stopitman replying to a comment from Ryan L. / April 6, 2014 at 03:43 pm
user-pic
@Ryan L. - although the Martin Goodman may "end" at that location, the Waterfront Trail continues to Cornwall/Lake St. Clair. Most of the trail is on road, so Toronto is more the exception than the rule for on-trail riding along the lake (although no other city has a Lakeshore Rd that is a 6 lane highway, so comparison is different).
suzbatin@gmail.com / May 7, 2014 at 01:09 pm
user-pic
is it possible not to link to Toronto Bike trail? is there any other bike trail map system available.
Kevin / May 23, 2014 at 07:42 am
user-pic
I prefer the Don Trail on the weekends as apart from certain sections where people picnic, for the most part it is not heavily populated. I park at Edwards Gardens and then make my way all the way down to Cherry Beach. From there it's over to Leslie Spit with a stop at the light house, and then back.

People have to remember this is a multi-use trail so it is to be expected pedestrians will be all over it. You just need to slow down and use your bell. I can't stand cyclist who chose to ignore common courtesy. Just slow down, use your bell, and people for the most part will move over.

Vancouver did it right at Stanley Park by building separate cycling and walking paths side by side.
Allen / May 24, 2014 at 12:24 pm
user-pic
I would like to know which one of these paths are suitable for racing bikes, not all terrain bikes. I've done most of my cycling north of the city, but since moving south not sure which paths will work for my kinda bike.
Harry replying to a comment from Allen / June 20, 2014 at 08:57 am
user-pic
The answer is "it depends".

All excepting, perhaps the Leslie Street Spit (which is quite gravelly in places)are suitable for a "road" bike.

But the question is what sort of "road" bike do you ride, and how obsessive are you in regard to getting it muddy or possibly chipped? All these bike paths are somewhat bumpy, with holes and broken pavement... and after a storm or wet day, you can expect sand and/or mud on the path... still fun to ride though, especially as they get you away from the traffic on the roads.

Using a road bike, for me, just means that it's my backside and legs that soak up the bumps...

Harry replying to a comment from MIsterLJ / June 20, 2014 at 09:19 am
user-pic
Agreed. As a cyclist, I have to remember to slow down and ride with courtesy when I see pedestrians (especially ones with young children) on the path.

I enjoy riding these paths fast... but will only do so when they are clear of other users. Often that's the case in the early mornings.

In the evenings, if I use the bike paths, I treat it as a casual ride and accept that I will have to slow down or stop for the odd stray pedestrian, or young child on a bike/scooter/skateboard etc...
Fred / July 25, 2014 at 03:51 pm
user-pic
why does the city not use that old CP railway that goes over that long bridge over bayview bloor exit it travels into moore park and into leaside rail lines been unused since 2006

Fred / July 25, 2014 at 03:51 pm
user-pic
that would be another perfect bike path
Kevin replying to a comment from Allen / September 4, 2014 at 01:10 pm
user-pic
I would avoid DVP trail if you dislike cleaning your road bike. I usually opt for the martin goodman trail and do hill-repeats in High Park. They recently re-paved parts of the park which used to be filled with potholes and uneven pavement. The rest of the city is a mess as they get ready for the pan-am games. You can also bike out west towards Hamilton following parts of the waterfront trail.

Add a Comment

Other Cities: Montreal