Between the sweaty streetcars, the congestion and perpetual construction (we know we’re not the only ones who would be okay if we never see the colour orange again), the need for an escape to nature is more important than ever for Toronto residents.
Helping your cause is the fact that you don’t have to travel far to do so.
Toronto(ish) is full of hiking trails that will make you forget about all the city’s loud hustle and bustle.
While it’s not the most challenging hike, a trek through the stunning Scarborough Bluffs is definitely the most scenic and view-filled (and, naturally, the most Instagram-worthy). You could easily forget you’re in Ontario when you find yourself strolling atop the eroding sand cliffs, staring at the crystal blue water below.
Perhaps the most convenient trail for the Toronto dweller is the Cedarvale Ravine and the Beltline Trail, which runs through the heart of the city, alongside the picturesque Rosedale Valley Road and Bayview Avenue. This tree-filled hike comes with a side of rich Toronto history: it travels the route of the former Beltline Railway commuter rail service.
For a nature-filled walk along the water, hit the Leslie Street Spit and Tommy Thompson Park – the largest existing natural habitat on the city’s waterfront. Here, your hike will come with marshes, forests, wildlife and views of Lake Ontario.
Submerge yourself in nature with a hike through the West Humber Trail, Toronto’s last major river valley. Here, you’ll find a mix of paved, hard-packed and grassy trails, as the hike takes you through peaceful gardens, through woodlands and along the West Humber River.
A hike down the green-filled Don Valley Trails comes with the reward of reaching refreshing waterfront at the bottom. The 32-kilometre stretch of trails begin at the Oak Ridges Moraine and end at Lake Ontario, with many options to choose from if you’re in need of an escape from the city while hiking through the middle of it.
Extend your Don Valley hike with a stop at the Evergreen Brickworks. Here, you’ll find wooded trails that are filled with wildlife and a lookout that offers an increasingly rare uninterrupted view of Toronto’s skyline. You’ll also find a bustling farmers’ market if you opt to hit the spot on a Saturday.
There’s more to High Park than its photo-worthy cherry blossoms. Newcomers to High Park are blown away by the park’s vastness and the number of hiking trails. A hike through the sprawling park offers diverse vegetation, wildlife, a peaceful lake and even a dog park.
Though a bit of a journey from the downtown confines, East Point Park is a solid choice if you’re looking to make a day out of your hike and if you have a thing for butterflies. Carved out of an expansive meadow, this hike is jam-packed with birds of all varieties and monarch butterflies. As an added bonus, you can top it off with a swim at the beach.
Whether you’re venturing out into a local trail or the backcountry, remember to prepare well in advance for the trek, so that you and your party remain safe.
Do your research, bring the proper equipment, and pay attention to factors like changing temperatures and trail markings.
Here’s a list of 10 outdoor safety items that you can bring on hikes.
With files from Erin Davis.