UPDATED OCT 17, 2019
One of the first things people notice when biking in Toronto is how hilly it is. But if you’re not sure you’re ready to tackle a hardcore hill, don’t worry. We’ve also got our fair share of leisurely bike trails, too — each with a unique view of our beautiful city.
The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail has it all — the greenery, the waterside, and all the concrete skyscrapers that create the infamous Toronto panorama. It’s a top destination for locals, so there’s always some sort of market, concert, festival, or international event happening here. If you’re not equipped to bike the 56km in one go, there’s always a park or beach nearby where you can take a pause. If you’re looking for some extra mileage, hop on a ferry and add the Toronto Islands to your bike trip.
This trail is part of Trillium Park, which has been revamped into a usable public space (and a pretty nice one, if you ask us). You wouldn’t even guess it used to be a grimey, old parking lot. While not very long, there are many things to check out here — the firepit, a mini bluffs, a Romantic Garden, and a unique waterfront overlook (definitely Instagram worthy). And just because you’ve cycled by the water in one place doesn’t mean it’s all the same throughout. Trust us—it doesn’t matter where you decide to stop—Toronto’s waterfront views are breathtaking.
The Islands are like a quick getaway to a country cottage without actually leaving the heart of downtown Toronto. They’re a favourite destination in the summer with tons to do and see — it’s worth making a whole day out of it. By bike, you’ll be able to get from one end to the other in no time. In between, make sure to have a coffee at the Island Café, head to Hanlan’s Point Beach (clothing optional), or find a quiet nook to relax on the grass. Bike rentals are available but only in the summer, so bring your own if you’re visiting at any other time of year.
“The Spit” as we like to call it, is sometimes known as a “happy accident”. It was originally made as an extension to the Toronto Harbour and later on kept as a natural conservation area. The trail is in Tommy Thompson Park and, to be honest, it’s not the brightest green space you’ll visit. The nature isn’t clean cut or perfect, but we love it for what it is. Thanks to “Friends of The Spit”, we have the Spit as a place for nature lovers and outdoor-fitness enthusiasts. It’s only open on weekends, and not very long, but there’s no doubt this is a special spot holding up some of Toronto’s history.
This is a top trail in Toronto for any kind of activity—biking, running, dog walking, chilling—you name it. Starting from Oak Ridge Moraine to Lake Ontario, the 32km stretch will give you a good dose of wildlife, impressive nature, history, and even a bit of culture. Use these trails to access a few of our best districts (East Chinatown, Leslieville, Pape Village) or ditch your morning car ride and use them to make your way downtown. So much more refreshing than driving on the highway!
The east end has the Don Valley, while the west end has Humber River Trail (some say it’s even nicer since you’re not beside a highway). Here, you’ll come across old bridges, waterfalls, and the James Gardens (an ideal spot to stop and smell the flowers). And if you’re lucky, you might even catch the salmon run up the river. Seriously, some people actually stand by and try to catch fish that jump out of the water. Hoping for something more adventurous? There are some awesome mountain biking trails near Thackery Park, which can be found north towards Steeles Ave.
One of the biggest parks found in Scarborough is Morningside Park. Expect paved pathways that will take you to Colonel Danforth Park and give you access to Kingston Road towards the well known Scarborough Bluffs. It’s a peaceful park great for running or hiking, or bird watching — if that’s your thing. The nature’s vast and there are lots to discover (you can even find fossils). If you’re looking for some long-distance cycling, there’s even a connection that will take you all the way to Pickering.
Physically separated from the roads, the Bayview Trail is a great route to take if you want to be able to take in the scenery without having to worry about nearby traffic. Starting at Rosedale Valley Road, you’ll instantly become submerged in nature and overarching trees — you’ll feel like you’re about to bike through the deep woods (you’re not). The scenery changes quickly and there’s lots to take in as you bike alongside the Don Valley. Eventually you’ll reach the Brickworks, which is the perfect place for a break, a coffee, or a fresh and locally-sourced meal at Café Belong.
If you live in Midtown or Uptown Toronto and you’re looking for a great spot for a quick nature escape, look no further than Moore Park Ravine. This trail will take you past beautiful trees, uphill, downhill, and under old, industrial bridges. It may sound creepy, but it’s surprisingly peaceful. It connects to Mt. Pleasant Cemetery and the Beltline—both ideal walking spots—and also has access to the Brickworks, and loops Rosedale, where you should go to if you’re looking for an awesome post-ride meal (we recommend Terroni, they’re Italian).
In between Bayview and Leslie streets sits Wilket Creek Park filled with wildlife and over 2km of biking and walking trails. Well maintained and mesmerizing to bike through, there are plenty of relaxing spots and picnic benches for when you want to take a break. We recommend checking out the café in Edward Gardens (only a short ride away from Wilket Creek) — there’s nothing better than rewarding yourself with a coffee after a morning trail ride (or walk). Take your cup of joe and enjoy the green space and wildflowers.
Not too far from Wilket Creek you’ll find Taylor Creek Trail. Although they’re in the same vicinity, the sceneries are totally different. Here, you’ll feel like you’ve truly escaped the city. A versatile trail with shady and sunny spots, lots of park benches, and connections to a swimming pool and an ice rink, it’s also within walking distance to The Danforth (Toronto’s Greektown). So when you’re done riding, head there for some bomb Greek food or a sweet treat at one of the neighbourhood bakeries.
Because of Toronto’s extensive ravine system, we’ve ended up with lots of places that are great for mountain biking, and Crothers Woods is one of them. Nestled near the Lower Don Valley Trail, this route has about 10km of hilly, dirt trails, so be aware of the change in terrain if you’re coming from Taylor Creek or Wilket Creek on a road bike (they are connected). If you’re looking for less treacherous roads, we recommend hitting the Sun Valley and Cottonwood flats.
While not exactly in the heart of the city, this spot is perfect for anyone who lives in the GTA. Similar to Crothers Woods, The Etobicoke Creek Trail has up to 18km of mountain biking paths ranging from beginner to expert. The 50km route also features multi-use trails and takes you through Brampton, Mississauga, and Toronto. Make sure you have a trail map handy — you may hit some dead ends or run into a few tricky spots along the ravine (with great views). If you’re seeking adventure outside the city, this route is worth the ride.