10 Best Hiking Trails in Toronto
Published: January 1, 2023
The sun is shining. The air is crisp. The leaves have changed. It's a perfect time to get outside and embrace nature – in a socially distant and safe manner – and hike some of the city's amazing trails! Just don't forget your hat and mitts.
Remember: These days, it's best to check with your destinations before you head out. Businesses, services and attractions may open or close due to changing restrictions.
The Beltline Trail is a nine kilometre cycling and walking trail that follows what used to be the Toronto Belt Line Railway. When the railway finally outlived its usefulness, the city bought back the land and, in 1989, established a scenic trail. It's made up of three sections – the Yorkline Beltline Trail, the Kay Gardner Beltline Park and the Ravine Beltline Trail – and is a mix of parkland, forests and scenic ravines.
Don Valley Trail
The Don River Valley Park runs alongside Toronto's famous river, connecting Toronto's urban neighbourhoods to an expansive, easy-to-access green retreat. The Park offers cyclists and pedestrians great amenities, including the Beltline Trail, Bayview Multi-use Trail, Don Valley Brick Works Park, Riverdale Park East and West and Corktown Common. Maybe take a day to explore each one?
Toronto's most incredible, centrally-located park offers a number of paths, including an easy-to-walk five kilometre central loop. In the summer, the Spring Creek and West Ravine nature trails take you through the natural forest on clearly marked routes where you can see a variety of wildlife and native plants and trees. In winter, trails aren't maintained, but if there's snow in the park you can cross-country ski.
Humber Trail – Étienne Brûlé Park
Stretched out along the Humber River, starting near the historical Old Mill and winding north to Baby Point, Étienne Brûlé Park offers a great hiking trail and some great spots for picnicking along the way. The Humber Trail that runs through the park is an 8.2 kilometre out-and-back walk that will reveal some incredible nature and history. You can even stop to fish when in season.
Lambton Woods is already a great destination – but the city plans to make it even better with a number of new trails and riding routes. But, in the meantime, feel free to stroll through this 21.6 hectare Environmentally Significant Area (ESA) located on the west side of the Humber River between James Gardens and Lambton Park. It's an amazing spot in the city that many may have not discovered yet.
Leslie Street Spit Trail – Tommy Thompson Park
Tommy Thompson Park is a remarkable destination if you want to experience nature and the outdoors. Many consider it to be one of the best places in the city for bird-watching, with more than 300 species having been recorded there. Located in Tommy Thompson Park, which stretches out into Lake Ontario, the Leslie Street Spit Trail is an 11-kilometre loop trail that offers some of the best scenic views around.
The Scarborough Bluffs Trail\
The Scarborough Bluffs Trail is a six-kilometre trek that runs from Bluffer's Beach through to Bluffer's Park, though there are other routes to explore as well. It's really all about the views – the rugged hills and the open water of Lake Ontario. But don't let the mental image of the rough and tumble Bluffs put you off – this is very relaxing trail, offering plenty of time to leisurely get back to nature.
Cedar Trail and the Beare Wetlands Loop
The Cedar Trail and Beare Wetlands Loop can be found in the east end of the city near the Toronto Zoo. The full Beare Wetlands experience includes a 4.5 km (about two and a half hour) round trip, while the Beare Wetlands Loop is a shorter 1.5 km path and can be done in about 45 minutes. The sprawling grounds are home to songbirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, reptiles and amphibians, mammals and many aquatic invertebrates. (And be sure to watch out for snapping turtles!)
Highland Creek Trail
The Highland Creek Trail follows paved paths through Colonel Danforth Park from Old Kingston Road in Scarborough to Lake Ontario, and then onwards to East Point Park. The Highland Creek watershed is home to approximately 102 square kilometres of nature within the city, so there is plenty to see and do. It even offers its own annual Salmon Festival!
In the late 1800s, Sunnybrook Farm was the 154-hectare country estate of Joseph Kilgour. When he died, his wife Alice donated the land to the City to be turned into a park. There are several paths to explore here, taking in the incredible ravines, rivers and creeks that flow through the grounds. The Park has been listed as a top spot to see birds in the City's Birds of Toronto Biodiversity Series booklet, so be sure to bring your binoculars.