Photo credits: juliettelouie

7 Best Hikes/Trails In & Around Toronto For An Outdoor Escape

From the sediment boulders perched above Lake Ontario to an abandoned quarry, from a lush ravine to the old railway lines, Toronto is known as the concrete jungle of Canada.

Many would think that the city would be out of any sort of natural parks, tralis, and hikes due to its cityscape. But that’s further from the truth!

The best hiking trails in and around Toronto are mostly situated near the waterfront of Lake Ontario, lingering further to North York and East York.

Here are the 7 best hikes in Toronto you can go on an outdoor escape to.

1. Evergreen Brickworks

Photo credits: jackmanchiu

Evergreen Brickworks is one of the most sought-after hikes in Toronto, not only because of its excellent location from the downtown core but also the history behind it. The 2-kilometer trail circulates around an abandoned brick factory that is now converted into a park and community hub. 

Today, the environmental showcase has become a household name for dog lovers and families with kids thanks to its extensive range of outdoorsy activities scattered along the well-marked trail.

You can start the walk at the Don Valley Brickworks Park nestled along the Beltline Trail near Governors Road. Work your way towards the Governor’s Monument and take a break at the Farmer’s market and the off-leash dog park before going back. 

The beautiful trail has a fair share of both nature and the skyline. The best time to hit the trail is in autumn when the green space turns into a gorgeous sea of fall foliage surrounding the pond, river, and marsh.

Address: 550 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4W 3X8.

2. Don River Valley Park Trail

Photo credits: RILP

The 32-kilometer trail network along the Don River Valley Park is one of the most interesting trails in North York, Toronto. This scenic nature escape offers you everything from the serene sounds of the river and gorgeous views to graffiti arts and old railway lines.

The trail is sandwiched between the Oak Ridges Moraine and Lake Ontario. The Don is not an end-to-end valley trail but you can find plenty of walks in various lengths with multiple access points from the city traffic.

Some sections are totally shielded from the city’s buzzes by greenery while some others cross through the Don Valley Parkway where noise is exposed.

If you venture out to the Don River Valley Park for the first time and are unsure of which trail to begin, take on the 13-kilometer trail from ET Seton Park and end at the Corktown Common. It takes you to all of the wonderful attractions and arts including Taylor Creek, Crothers Woods, Todmorden Mills, Evergreen Brick Works, and Riverdale Park.

Address: 155 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M5A 0G4.

3. High Park Trails

Photo credits: monicamrobles_

Take on High Park if you wish to game up your hiking skill or simply need a place near home to walk your dog. Toronto High Park sits on a massive plot of land, encompassing nearly 400 acres of wilderness within a major urban center. Today, the assortment of High Park trails become the meeting hub of many wildlife species including birds, fish, and animals.

The trails at High Park are a mix of terrains and difficulty levels. Some of them are paved, some are dirt paths, some allow off-leash dogs, and some require on-leash. 

There are multiple trailheads you can choose from, one of which is the paved roadside space off of Colborne Lodge Drive at the north end of the trail. It is then split into paved concrete and natural surface covered with dirt, sticks, and rocks.

Even though the trail is generally easy to take on, prepare to see some steep sections downhill and uphill.

Address: High Park – Grenadier Cafe, Toronto, ON.

4. West Humber River Recreation Trail

Photo credits: maximilianojarac

14 kilometers northwest of Toronto, the Humble River lasts 100 kilometers. The trails start at the Home Smith Park, going south on the paved path, passing a footbridge over the river before ending at the Old Mill Toronto area or Etienne Brulé Park. You can turn back at this point and complete this 9-kilometer loop.

Both gravel paths and paved paths are available, favored by both cyclists and joggers. The trail near the river has the best view to look at, especially when you walk your dog so you can let it play in the water.

Along the hike, you can stop at a weir that runs across the width of the river. It’s more like a low head dam that alters the flow and serves as a migrating point where salmon migrate upstream and jump over this point every autumn.

Address: 451 Albion Rd, Etobicoke, ON.

5. Rouge Valley Vista Trail

Photo credits: juliettelouie

Route Valley Vista is a short scenic trail fully covered by the shades. The Vista trail is a 9-kilometer loop that takes just over 2 hours to complete.

It is broken down into multiple sections with different levels of difficulty, from flattened earth to boards of pavement and higher elevation.

Most of the trail length remains under the trees until you reach an observation deck with a decent view over the rest of the valley. If lucky, you’ll have a chance to spot yellow-billed cuckoo, Indigo Bunting, and many other species twittering on top of the branches.

The best time to hit the Vista trail is early autumn, followed by summer and early winter when the ground and plants are not blanketed with snow.

Even though the trail is open year-round, winter hikers should be careful with ice and heavy snow along the river.

Address: 1749 Meadowvale Rd, Scarborough, ON M1B 5W8.

6. Glen Stewart Ravine Trail

Photo credits: sleepyleaf58

Given such proximity to the city, Glen Steward Ravine emerges as a hidden oasis tucked away in a protected forested area. The entire 1.3-kilometer trail is well paved with a majority of the path being boarded and fenced.

As soon as you enter this beautiful escape from the city living at either Glen Manor Drive East or Beech Ave trailhead, you’ll encounter a flat, dirt path first before walking on an elevated wooden boardwalk over the ravine. 

The scenery at this point seems as if it comes straight out of a storybook. It’s hard to believe there’s such a whimsical area where Ames Creek is gently running through next to the rare forest types such as Red Maple trees and Witch Hazel shrubs.

In the middle of the hike, you’ll find a set of stairs where you can work out your core. Keep in mind that there are no facilities or restrooms available here.

Address: 351 Glen Manor Dr, Toronto, ON M4E 2X8.

7. Scarborough Bluffs Trail

Photo credits: flaminia.rowney

Get on a 25-minute ride north of Toronto and you’ll end up at Scarborough Bluffs, a scenic trail leading to a stretch of sediment rock cliffs bordering Lake Ontario. The hike is perfect for all hike levels to take on a beautiful stretch of 7 kilometers.

Attested by the locals, Scarborough Bluffs trail is Toronto’s best-kept secret, steeped in an impeccable serenity where boulders and jungles team up with lake and ocean. The pet-friendly trail is accessible year-round, tracing the banks of Lake Ontario’s waterfront. 

At the end of the trail, the outlook over the lake is perched 60 meters above the water. Right underneath the cliffs, families with kids hang out by the shore, lingering all the way to Beach bluffer park and east point park every summer.

Address: 1 Brimley Rd S, Scarborough, ON M1M 3W3.

A good visit to Toronto can last up to a week. While you’re there, don’t forget to check out the best food spots and bars to keep up with Toronto’s multicultural makeup and the diversity of cuisine: