Are you looking to get outdoors and looking for the best hiking trails in Toronto? The capital city of Ontario, Toronto may be the most populous city in the whole of Canada, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find beautiful natural spaces within the city limits and in the greater Toronto region. There is a multitude of hiking trails in Toronto suited for all preferences and abilities, from leisurely park walks to challenging mountain treks.
When I mention hiking in Toronto most people don’t even realize how many trails in Toronto there are. Yes, this may be a concrete jungle but there are many hikes in Toronto and places to hike near Toronto.
The Top Hiking Trails in Toronto
This guide presents a shortlist of some of the best and most scenic hiking trails in Toronto, providing details on the length of the trails, the difficulty level, as well as what scenery you can enjoy en route.
Please note that due to Covid-19, not all parks and hiking trails Toronto are open or fully open to the public, in order to prevent the spread of the virus. Information is changing all the time, so check ahead online whether a trail is open for use. As always, be sure to socially distance and where a mask where appropriate.
1. Scarborough Bluffs Trail
Length: 5 kilometers (loop)
Scenery: Lake Ontario, white cliffs, waterfront and beach
The Scarborough Highlands were named by Elizabeth Simcoe, the wife of John Graves Simcoe (the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada) in 1793, after her hometown of Scarborough in England’s Yorkshire. Later, the highlands became known as the Scarborough Bluffs.
The Scarborough Bluffs Trail is a short loop Toronto hiking trail that winds from Bluffer’s Beach to Bluffer’s Park. The route is mostly around the base of the hills, so there isn’t much elevation and the trail is quite easy.
To break up your day of hiking in the summer, pack your swimsuit and you can enjoy swimming at Bluffer’s Beach, a Blue Flag Beach that is one of the best in the whole of Toronto. Some of the landscapes, with their pristine beaches, calm waters and turquoise waves, look like the Caribbean!
2. High Park Area Trail
Length: 5.3 kilometers (loop)
Scenery: Oak savannahs
High Park is a 399-acre municipal park in Toronto with mixed recreational facilities and natural parkland, including playgrounds, sporting facilities and even a zoo. The High Park Area Trail is a popular and easy loop trail that is suitable even for strollers or wheelchairs, though note that some of the dirt paths can get muddy, especially when the weather is wet.
The park is one of the city’s most important natural sites, partially due to rare plant species, as well as the famous oak savannahs, which are what remains of the sand prairies that once covered much of Ontario’s landscapes. In the spring, High Park is noted for its gorgeous cherry blossoms.
3. Glen Stewart Ravine Boardwalk
Length: 1.3 kilometers
Scenery: Forest and park, red oak and maple trees, Ames Creek
The Glen Stewart Ravine is a boardwalk trail located within Toronto city limits that navigates a protected forested area. The urban hiking trail is perfect for those who don’t want to venture too far out of the city for a bit of nature, as it’s within walking distance of Queen Street East and Kingston Road.
Hikers can start at either end of the trail, at Beech Avenue or Glen Manor Drive East. The entire length of the trail is only just over a kilometer, therefore it can be completed in roughly 20 minutes, or you can walk to one end and then back again for a longer excursion.
Remember the ravine is a protected area and there is work being done to restore the ecosystem here, so don’t stray off the path. The rare forest environments look like something out of a fairytale, filled with red oaks, maples trees, as well as natural witch hazel.
If you’re looking for a longer day trip, it’s recommended to combine the Glen Stewart Ravine boardwalk with a second hike, such as the trail at Warden Woods at Scarborough, or to explore Toronto’s waterfront.
4. Rouge National Urban Park
Rouge National Urban Park is a 62.9-square-kilometer national urban park, most of which is located in Toronto’s Scarborough, but also bleeds across borders into the city limits of Markham and Pickering.
There are a number of different trails to choose from at this park, which offer a wide range of landscapes, such as farmlands, wetlands, forests and meadows. You can figure out the best trail for you based on distance, difficulty and what you want to see. Running from south to north, they are:
- Rouge Marsh Trail (500 meters one way, easy, wetland views)
- Mast Trail (2.5 kilometers one way, moderate to difficult, former logging route)
- Glen Eagles Vista Trail (600 meters, easy, views of Rouge River and Little Rouge Creek)
- Celebration Forest Trail (500 meters, easy, forest memorial paying homage to community leaders and conservationists)
- Vista Trail (1.5 kilometers, moderate, valley views)
- Orchard Trail (2 kilometers, moderate, wetlands and historic remnants of early European settlements)
- Cedar Trail & the Beare Wetlands Loop (4.5 or 1.5 kilometers depending on your option, moderate, wildlife and mature forest)
- Woodland Trail (4.5 kilometers, easy, forest and meadows)
- Reesor Way or Tanglewood Trail (3.3 kilometers, moderate, meadows and different habitats)
- Monarch Trail (7.6 kilometers, moderate, cedar savannahs and white pines, plus farmlands)
- Tallgrass Trek (3.2 kilometers, easy, wetlands and grasslands)
- Sentier Trail (5.1 kilometers, easy, marshlands and shaded woodlands)
- Northeast Trail (1.25 kilometers, easy, farmlands and marshlands, plus two fiberglass boardwalks)
- West Trail (1.6 kilometers, easy, farmlands and wetlands)
- Coyote Trail (2.9 kilometers, moderate, pine and cedar forests, plus meadows)
Rouge National Urban Park is actually Canada’s first urban park, so it’s no surprise that here you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to hiking trails. The park is also home to Carolinian forest, some of the country’s oldest indigenous sites, as well as Toronto’s one and only campground.
5. Don Valley Brickworks Trail
Length: 2.4 kilometers (loop)
Scenery: Ponds and Toronto city views
Don Valley Brick Works Park is a 40-acre space located on the site of a former quarry. The easy 2.4-kilometer Don Valley Brickworks Trail is a popular loop route that winds around a lake and is suitable for most skill levels. Dogs are welcome on this trail but must be kept on a leash.
If you’re looking for the something longer, then you can continue on from the end of the Don Valley Brickworks trail along the Beltline Trail, the Lower Don River Trail, or the Moore Park Ravine loop.
6. East Don Parkland Trail
Length: 10.9 kilometers
Scenery: Waterfall and wildlife
East Don Parkland is part of a collection of parks along the East Don River, and the East Don Trail winds through these parklands via an “out and back” route of just over 10 kilometers.
There is a scenic waterfall along the trail and you may be able to spot salmon swimming upstream in the autumn months here. The trail is suitable for both hiking and biking, and is ranked as easy in terms of difficulty, but be mindful that the trail is long.
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7. Humber River Recreation Trail
Length: 8.2 kilometers
Scenery: Lake Ontario
The paved Humber River Recreation Trail is great for both hiking and biking, covering just over eight kilometers in length. Located in Etienne Brule Park, this popular “out and back” trail is wheelchair and stroller friendly. Dogs are welcome on the trail but must be kept on a leash.
The first few kilometers of the trail has links to Canadian McMichael Art Collection and the Boyd Conservation Area, so you can stop off at these places along the way. Other parts of the trail include various natural habitats, recreational facilities, as well as pieces of heritage, along a section known as the Toronto Carrying-Place Trail.
8. Crothers Woods Loop
Length: 6.6 kilometers
The Crothers Woods Loop is a moderate trail located in Crothers Wood, in Toronto’s Waterfront district. There are a number of multi-use dirt trails at Crothers Wood, most rated as intermediate level due to steep sections and natural surfaces.
A couple of other great trails at Crothers Wood is the Sun Valley Trail, which stretches for 1.3 kilometers and the Cottonwood Flats Trails, which is only 0.7 kilometers long. Both are suitable for beginners.
9. Tommy Thompson Park
The northern half of the Leslie Street Spit, a manmade headland that extends from the city’s east end into Lake Ontario, is where you’ll find Tommy Thompson Park, named for a former Toronto Parks Commissioner.
The spit was originally created as an extension of Toronto Harbour, but later became a passive recreation area and later still was classified as an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA), so it’s protected by the Toronto Region Conservation (TRCA). A visit here is a fascinating lesson in how Mother Nature can reclaim land and turn something manmade into something even more beautiful.
In spring, summer and autumn, there’s plenty to do at the park and popular activities include hiking, running, roller-skating and cycling. In the winter months, the trails are not maintained, but there are still opportunities for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
There are four trail routes available in the park, of various lengths and difficulty levels, some of which overlap. These are:
- Multi-Use Trail (5 kilometers, easy, flat and paved – suitable for walking, cycling and roller-blading)
- Pedestrian Trail – Level 1 (3.4 kilometers, easy, flat and smooth gravel surface)
- Pedestrian Trail – Level 2 (3.9 kilometers, easy, mostly flat and smooth, but with a narrow width)
- Nature Trail (3.3 kilometers, easy, natural surface with some tripping hazards)
If you’re looking for something longer and more challenging, then you can opt for the 11-kilometer Leslie Street Spit Trail, which is a loop trail that covers the most scenic areas and offers panoramic views of the Toronto cityscape.
The park is a designated Important Bird Area (IBA) due to its importance as a habitat for over 300 avian species (including 10 species of owl), around 45 of which use the land for breeding. The Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station operates seasonally (during spring and autumn migrations), and visitors are welcome to visit the station on weekends when the park is open.
Note that Tommy Thompson Park is closed to the public on weekdays until 4pm, though the Nature Centre on-site is still open from 9am. Pets are not welcome at this park.
10. Humber Bay Park
Humber Bay Park is a waterfront park in the Etobicoke area of Toronto, split into two landspits at the mouth of Mimico creek; Humber Bay Park East (47 acres) and Humber Bay Park West (296.5 acres).
Each section of the park has its own trail, so you can choose the one best suited to your preferences, or make a day trip out of it and combine them. Including the even-further-east Humber Bay Shores Park, all three parks are connected by the 22-kilometer Martin Goodman Trail.
Humber Bay Park West
The Humber Bay Park West Trail is a scenic 1.9-kilometer out and back trail, which is accessible all year round and easy enough for beginners. Dogs are welcome on the trail, but must be kept on a leash.
This park is great for birdwatching, with notable species to spot including waterfowl and shorebirds, plus you’ll see plenty of ducks out on Lake Ontario.
Humber Bay Park East
The Humber Bay Park East Trail is a 2.6-kilometer loop known for wildlife spotting and is also ranked as easy. Dogs are welcome on the trail, but must be kept on a leash.
The eastern park is where you can find the Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat, which was created by volunteers through ecological restoration; planting native wildflowers and other plants, removing invasive species and monitoring nature in the park.
Humber Bay Shores Park
If you continue on east from the Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat at Humber Bay Park East, you’ll reach Humber Bay Shores Park.
More Hiking Trails in Toronto
The Toronto hiking and walking trails listed above are just a selection of some of the most fun and scenic hiking routes to enjoy in the city and beyond, and by no means a definitive list. If you have any recommendations for other Toronto hiking trails to add to this collection, or any tips and hacks for hiking in the greater Toronto region in general, then let us know in the comments below.
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