Great Lakes Waterfront Trail

This waterfront trail near Toronto is an epic bike route with breathtaking views

Whether you're an avid cyclist or a weekender, there are loads of places to consider exploring in and around Toronto.

A favourite of mine is doing the 80 km to Hamilton. Before you decide this isn't for you, have a read to explore the parks, views, and options that make the ride worth it.

Although you could drive to Hamilton in an hour, this ride (taking between 4 and 5 hours) is more enjoyable than sitting in traffic.

With quiet parks, beautiful neighbourhoods, funky graffiti, and tasty treats along the way, it's the perfect way to get to know more of Ontario.

The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail is a mix of lakeside trails, sidewalks, and side streets to explore in Port Credit, Mississauga, Oakville, and Burlington on your way to Hamilton.

Here are the top spots along the bike route that are worth adding to your weekend getaway.

biking in toronto

Views of Lake Ontario from Lakeshore Park.

First 30 km - Toronto to Port Credit

The first hour of the cycle takes you out of the city along the Martin Goodman Trail and across the Humber Bay Arch Bridge, letting you view the city you're leaving behind. The path will move through Humber Bay Park West and then wind along Lakeshore Blvd West before moving to residential streets (it's worth having a map handy for this part).

The next park you'll ride through is Colonel Samuel Smith Park. Known for its winter skating and views of the sunrise over the city, this park about 17 km from downtown has a nice paved path and is a great spot in its own right.

If you try this in August, you might catch the blooming sunflowers. Out of season, there are local artist installations and a wall of graffiti to explore. Stop in at Stonehookers Brewing Company for a mid-ride pint on their patio.

Port Credit is a beautiful town boasting great river paddling, restaurants, festivals, and bars. If you have a sweet tooth, consider visiting Carlo's Bakery, the first Canadian location for the Cake Boss.

After lunch, a drink, or a wander about town, you can either cycle back home or hitch a ride on the GO Transit with your bike and head back to the city. If you're still with me, let's keep going.

Great Lakes Waterfront Trail

Collective Arts Brewery flight.

The next 20km - Port Credit to Oakville

This part of the ride is road-heavy. The sidewalks are wide with bike lanes at the edge of the road.

It's also a little less exciting, unless you take advantage of stops at some of the best nearby parks. Rattray Marsh Conservation Area is one of the best with boardwalks and beautiful views (especially in the fall!).

The route may take you past Joshua's Valley Park, which is both beautiful and will add a bit of an offroading element to your trip. It's a lovely spot to visit, but try to avoid it if Strava or Google want you to take on this route.

Then, stop in to one of Oakville's 200 restaurants or visit Cameron's Brewery (whose IPAs have been voted best in the world).

Is 50 km is your max? Grab the GO train or bus back to the city. But if you can, keep going — the best is yet to come.

biking in toronto

Burlington's Canal Lift Bridge and the Skyway. 

The final stretch - 30 km from Oakville to Hamilton

This is where the trip gets interesting. Although the trail is rarely along the water and is often on-road bike lanes, there are still some great options for how to reach Hamilton.

Heading through Burlington, you can stop at the Sunshine Doughnut Company and enjoy a coffee at the Brant Street Pier along Spencer Smith Park before heading on. This route takes you across one of Ontario’s coolest bridges, Burlington’s Canal Lift Bridge. Stopping to watch it go up and down for boats is impressive.

If you’d rather skip this part and get to Hamilton faster, take the main roads past the Royal Botanical Gardens and across the York Street Bridge to view Hamilton from above.

Whichever way you arrive, after 80 km of cycling, you deserve to treat yourself. 

Great Lakes Waterfront Trail

Burlington Beach in Beachway Park along Lake Ontario.

Arriving in Hamilton

Whether you want a drink, some of the best tacos, or a sweet treat, there are three places that you must visit in Hamilton.

My favourites are Mule Tacos, Donut Monster and, of course, the beautiful-graffiti'd brewery Collective Arts, a spot that originally inspired this cycle seven years ago when I started. Their beer flights and impressive collection of murals make it a must-try while in the city.

When in Hamilton, make sure to check your bus or train times. The GO Bus often routes to the Aberfoyle GO Station, adding either a longer ride or a slower return to the city. The fact the GO takes bikes (a max of 2 are allowed on buses so arrive early) makes it a perfect $13 return ride to Union Station

Whether you take on the 80 km ride from Toronto or just explore local cities nearby, there is so much to see only a short ride away.

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