UPDATED MAR 10, 2020
In Toronto, there’s no need to rack up your miles on a treadmill — the city may be one of the best places for runners and fitness fanatics alike. Whether you get that runner's high from dodging pedestrians or making it up a steep hill, there’s a path for you.
Toronto has quite a bit of buried history. That’s why we have Discovery Walks — self-guided walking (or running!) tours that’ll take you through gardens, parks, ravines, and neighbourhoods that are connected to one another. Here, you’ll get a sight of Sherwood Park, one of the largest remaining protected natural habitats, as it’s a last remnant of the Great Lakes-St.Lawrence Forest. The ravines in this route were also used by the First People for hunting and camping. Even more history — you’ll also have the opportunity to stop and smell the flowers at the Alexander Muir Gardens, planted over 50 years ago. Really, if you thrive off of variety in your runs, this route is perfect for you.
Is it a park or a forest? You might ask yourself this while you’re running through the trails of Sunnybrook. It’s probably one of the best places for a quick getaway without being far from some of the city’s busiest neighbourhoods. Sunnybrook Park is a multi-functional place with trails, fields, and various smaller parks within it. Oh, and you definitely don’t want to miss the view of the city’s most iconic structure (the CN Tower) from here.
No, there’s no legend that says you’ll get lost in these rivers if you run through them. The Lost Rivers refer to the buried waterways that are the result of the construction of the city. Remember: Toronto was built over its parks. The trail begins at Moore Park Ravine where you’ll follow the Beltline Trail, make your way down to the Brick Works and eventually join the Park Drive Reservation Trail, and the circle back. Not only will you come back mesmerized by the scenery, but you’ll take in a little piece of Toronto’s history, too.
Adjacent to the Lost Rivers Loop, the Casa Loma run will take you through the residential areas of Midtown Toronto closer to the city’s very own castle — it’s from the pre-WWII era, if you’re wondering. Nowadays, this historic site is a top tourist attraction and home to a ton of parties. Casa Loma is also Spanish for “Hill House” just to give you an idea for what this route might entail.
Bike, hike, or run through the Don Valley Trails and you’ll be amazed by the forestation and integration of natural wildlife so close to the city’s centre. But it wasn’t always like that. Because of economic booms and increased urbanization, the nature suffered immensely, and with this realization, the city has worked hard to rehabilitate the area. Now, the Don River Valley Park serves as a cultural and recreational space for all walks of life, connecting some of our most favoured neighbourhoods. Take in a montage of the scenery, the art, the wildlife, the solitude, or come together with a group of runners.
Nature’s pretty and all, but runners overtake the streets of Toronto daily, especially in the bustling downtown core. Running through downtown is also a much faster and efficient way to see some of the diverse neighbourhoods. The route is a nice mix of older residential sites and some of the more modern complexes. And if you want to cover more ground, start near King West and head north on Spadina until you hit Dundas. From there, you can continue the regular downtown route, but this way, you’ll get to see parts of Chinatown, too.
Everyone needs to start somewhere, and Queen’s Park is the best place for novice runners or those looking for some lighter fare on rest days. Although it’s a short loop, it’s a great alternative to the track — the sights and structures will help to make it feel like you’re not just running in circles the entire time. Want to make it more challenging? Start from farther out and finish with a sprint around, or incorporate it into a longer run. The options are endless.
Humber River is like the Don Valley of the west. And this trail is actually a vital link to Toronto’s past. It’s home to old trading routes between European settlers, old water mills, and our first industrial building. The parks and trails are a nice blend between wildlife and built structures, which works perfectly for when you want to zone out hard but still want to make it back in time for dinner.
Looking to become a morning runner? Go for a run at Humber Bay Park, where you’ll catch one of the most remarkable sunsets across the high-rises of downtown. It might just convert you into an early riser. But, technically, a pretty sunrise would mean the sunset’s just as sensational. Let’s just say Humber Bay Park makes for a perfect run any time of day.
Reach Scarborough Bluffs and it’ll feel as if you’ve travelled to a tropical island or a southern European coastline. Well, you haven’t — you’re still in Toronto, but a run at the popular Bluffer’s Park will grant you unbelievable sights from atop the cliffs. If you’re ever feeling FOMO from your friends’ travel ’grams, then just take a quick jog down to the southeast end of the city. You’ll get the travel sights without spending a dime and get fit at the same time. It’s a win-win.
The waterfront trail stretches throughout southern Ontario, but the Martin Goodman Trail section is an idyllic Toronto run. It’s a 56-kilometre route that's also featured in Toronto’s annual Waterfront Marathon. This makes it ideal for long-distance training, although all levels are welcome. Plus, there are many entry points, whether it be High Park, Harbourfront Centre, or Ashbridges Bay. It’s got the water on one side and the high-rises on the other. Run parts or run it all — you couldn’t ask more from a scenic trail.
Get the latest news on Toronto’s fitness scene.