thornton bales

This hiking trail near Toronto comes with 99 steps

One of the best parts of summer is being able to ditch your gym membership for a couple months, and instead, opt to exercise outside and treat yourself to some fresh air that will give you a ton of energy.

After all, experts say that just 20 minutes of working out outside is the equivalent of downing one cup of coffee due to its energy-boosting effects 

Luckily, one of the best hidden gems for workout fanatics is the 99-Step Trail in Newmarket - just 40 minutes north of Toronto. This trail, which marks the head of the Thornton Bales Conservation Area, is famous for its rugged hiking trails and steep natural staircase. 

Until a couple years ago, these stairs were assembled with uneven natural logs, making it a challenging and slightly dangerous trail to enjoy.

The stairs have now been replaced with better-constructed lumber, and widened considerably, so that you can safely jog the steps with a partner or furry friend.

A post shared by Jenna-Lea Patey (@pateyjay) on

This trail though, is no easy feat. Good footwear is pretty much mandatory, and be prepared to sweat. The change in vertical elevation from the top of 99-steps to the bottom is greater than the drop over Niagara Falls!

The 99-step climb is owned and managed by Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority. The area surrounding it occupies several hundred acres of wetlands, lush forests, and open fields on the western portion of the Oak Ridges Moraine

This stunning conservation area is called "an island in a sea of development" as mass subdivisions take over nearby land, which makes the quiet, untouched nature of Thornton Bales seem like a hidden paradise.

The 99-Step Trail is open year-round and the small parking lot at the top of the trail's head is located off Mulock Sideroad, 3 km west of Yonge Street. 

Lead photo by

mandytiffany


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