Doesn’t it feel good to get outside? Especially after the year we’ve endured, stepping out for a walk feels like an escape. Why not step it up a notch and hit some of the best hiking trails in and around Toronto?
Yes, Toronto is known as Canada’s metropolis, but you’ll be surprised how many scenic trails are right in the city. Some are hidden in plain sight, close to the downtown core, while others are on the city outskirts. Either way, you’ll find a trail that matches your level of adventure and fitness level.
9 hiking trails in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area)
Summer is the perfect time to hit some of the GTA’s most popular trails. Put on some hiking boots, bring a friend, and enjoy nature. In no particular order, here are 9 hiking trails in and around Toronto and the GTA that you should give a try.
When thinking of the best hiking trails near Toronto, this is a great start. Located just north of the city (ten minutes outside of North York), Kortright Centre offers much more than just hiking. You’ll need to purchase a timed ticket which gives you a two hour time slot and can include activities such as Survival Skills, Mapping and Orienting, and Art in Nature, which allows you to create art directly onto the landscape using natural objects. Kortright is geared more for family or small groups, so you’ll want to plan your visit in advance. The trails are not difficult, at all, and can be enjoyed with the grandkids.
Location: 9550 Pine Valley Drive, Woodbridge
Originally, Sunybrook Park was 154 hectares of land owned privately by Joseph and Alice Kilgour in the late 1800s. But in 1928, Alice donated it to the city with a pledge to remain free for anyone to roam. There are a number of different trails along Sunnybrook Park, one of them backs onto an off-leash dog park. There’s a 23 km loop trail that takes you through Wilket Creek, Swamp, Boo, Crothers Woods and Lower Don Trail. You’ll be sharing much of that trail with cyclists and the dips and climbs make the loop more suited to intermediate level hikers, but there are many parts of Sunnybrook Park that are perfect for casual strolls. Throw on your backpack, enjoy the good weather, and bask in nature.
Location: 1132 Leslie Street, Toronto
The trails along Humber Bay are split into three sections: Etobicoke, Toronto and Scarborough (west, central, south). The best part about this trail is that you’ll be walking along the lake which means the views are gorgeous, especially at sunset. None of these trails are hard to navigate. The paths are mostly flat and the only thing you’ll really have to navigate are cyclists. There’s a 2 km trail that runs along the Lakeshore from Parklawn to Royal York. When you’re at Parklawn, you’ll want to walk through the Butterfly Sanctuary. It’s more of a serene trail as opposed to the business of other parts of the Waterfront Trail.
Location: 225 Lakeshore Blvd West, Toronto
Staying along Lake Ontario, there’s a 5 km peninsula close to downtown Toronto that’s home to one of the more aesthetically brilliant trails on this list. It’s been naturally transformed into a wildlife reserve with over 400 species of plant life. The Spit, as it’s called, is a low difficulty trail with no biking allowed so you’ll feel free to roam or relax at your leisure. This is definitely one of the best hikes in Toronto.
Location: 1 Leslie Street, Toronto
Remember when we said some of the best trails are hiding in plain sight? Well this might be the best of them. Spanning over 200 hectares, Toronto’s largest urban park hosts art trails, biking and walking trails, and spots along the Don River. There are six trails in total connecting many of Toronto’s urban neighbourhoods so you can access solitude at several points. Each trail ranges in difficulty but with multiple exit points, you can pop out at any time and likely be in a popular neighbourhood where you can grab a drink and a bite to eat.
Location: Don Valley Pkwy, Toronto
Stepping about an hour outside the city, Jokers Hill is home to a diverse natural ecosystem between growing residential developments. The site is managed by the University of Toronto which conducts ongoing research, including forest ecology and the ecological impacts of global change. The area is part of the Oak Ridges Moraine and features a 54 metre drop known as 99 Steps. Much of Jokers Hill is rugged, so unless you’re a pro hiker, work your way up to this one. There are scheduled times so you’ll have to book in advance. You’ll be with a group of other hikers and a hike lead guiding the way. Different leads will take you on different levels of hikes so even if you’re just getting started, choose a trail and a lead that is designated for beginners.
Location: 17080 Bathurst Street, Newmarket
We’re shifting back to Woodbrige to a trail that’s pretty close to Kortright Centre. Similar to Kortright, Boyd is more of a family or small group park with 17 designed picnic areas and large patches of green spaces for lounging. There is an admission fee ($6.20 for adults, $5.30 for seniors), but it’s worth the nominal cost for a gorgeous day out. When hiking, you’ll be strolling along the Humber River among tall trees with low foot traffic which makes for an intimate experience. Bring your grandkids and plan to spend the day. If you want to picnic table, you’ll have to book in advance.
Location: 8739 Islington Avenue, Woodbridge
Diving back into the city, Evergreen Brickworks is a gem. It’s much more than trails and a park. They have one of the top farmers markets in the city, a tour through abandoned industrial buildings, and a children’s garden. But we’re here to talk about hiking, so let’s get to it. There are both free and private guided walks that take you through different trail lengths. These walks are active all year round and teach you about the history of the Don Valley. That said, if there’s one thing you absolutely must do at Evergreen, it is to scale up to the Lookout Path. It’s one of the few places in the city that gives you an uninterrupted view of Toronto’s skyline. You’ll thank us later.
Location: 550 Bayview Avenue, Toronto
Ok, we know this sounds obvious, but it would be negligent of us not to mention High Park when talking about hiking trails in Toronto. High Park is still a jewel when it comes to nature in the city and it’s walking trails are calm and just long enough to keep you occupied for the afternoon. No invite needed. Just make your way along the trails and enjoy a mix of rare flora and vegetation, coupled with glimpses of wildlife. During the summer months, the trails are easy enough for anyone to participate. You can bring your family, but if you’re looking for some alone time, this is a good afternoon getaway.
Location: 1873 Bloor Street West, Toronto
Looking for more trails to explore? Read our article on the best fall hikes in Ontario and Rocketman’s guide to the best day trips from Toronto on public transit.
Stay active this season, physically and mentally
Hiking is one of the best ways to stay physically active, especially during the warmer months. Take advantage of summer and try out one or more of these hiking trails in and around Toronto.
At Boomerang, we make it easy to stay active and pursue your hobbies or rediscover your passions. Older adults can register for over 250+ online workshops a month in areas of their interest. Express your creative side, learn to cook new dishes or get active in virtual yoga classes. Our online workshops are led by passionate Hosts to help you explore your interests.