Toronto is an amazingly dynamic city, it has a ton of night life, all kinds of fantastic festivals and incredible people. Sometimes it is nice to slow down, get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and enjoy the outdoors. There are so many hiking trails and bike paths that are hidden in the nooks and crannies of Toronto. There are 12 Discovery Walks all over the city connecting different neighbourhoods through ravines, parks, beaches and more. There are so many different parts to each walk to discover, here is a list of the top 10 must see trails, beaches and parks.
Photo cred: Ron Bulovz
1. Beaches East Boardwalk
This boardwalk comes with a delightful scenery, happy families out for a stroll, and a spectacular view of Toronto iconic skyline. In the winter months almost all of the beach area is an off leash dog zone, in the warmer months you can only find a small area at the very east end of the beach to let them run around. When it's nice out you will find people participating in a number of water sports; kayaking, sailing, paddle boarding, etc. If you're not into any of that, you can always bring a bathing suit and a towel and hit the beach. Feel the sand between you're toes and if you close your eyes you can imagine you're laying by the ocean.
Photo cred: Rob Campbell
2. R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant
Photo cred: Benson Kua
3. Ashbridges Bay Park
Photo cred: George Socka
4. Cherry Beach
This beach is on the north shore of the harbour. It's out of the way of main roads, just off cherry street. The beach is actually pretty close to sound academy, an awesome music venue worth checking out. You can get to the beach by taking the 72B bus from Pape station, or if you'd rather bike, it is close to the lakeshore bike paths. This beach has a huge off the leash area to let you dog run around. The west side of the beach is a perfect spot for kite boarding. One of the best times to hit up this beach is in the evening, on a warm summer night this is the perfect spot to watch the sun go down.
Photo cred: Anthony DeLacruz
5. Don River Valley
The Don River Valley is a great way to get around the city if you're a biker. It has many access points to city streets and parks. If you decide to walk it, set a side a good amount of time to get through the areas that interest you the most. The Don River stretches about 32 kilometres, from the Oak Ridges Moraine all the way to Lake ontario. There are so many routes you can explore, here is a link to some useful trail guides. If you check out the north side of the Charels Sauriol Conservation Area, you will come across the iconic Rainbow Bridge that drivers pass daily on the DVP. This Bridge was "mysteriously" painted and then painted over by the city years ago. The artist, now known as "the Caretaker of Dreams" returned and re-painted the rainbow. Over 40 years later the city has continued to restore the uplifting mural.
Photo cred: Harold Stiver
6. Todmorden Mills
Todmorden Mills is a unique heritage sight, one of Toronto's 10 historic museums. The 19th-century style buildings are magnets for wedding photo shoots. The buildings have been well maintained and include two residences, a brewery, a wildflower preserve and its recently renovated Papermill theatre and Gallery. Visitors are welcome to explore and join scheduled tours that take place throughout the week in the warmer seasons. Here is a link with more information about all of their events.
Photo cred: Alf Eaton
7. Moore Park Ravine
This trail is in the centre of the city, it starts at Yonge and St Clair. I know this seems like kind of a hike from the downtown core, most people haven't ventured this far north, even though its only a 15 minute ride on the TTC, which we all love. Trust me, it is so worth it. Take the path just off of Heath Street, go from the hustle a bustle of the busy city streets, to being immersed in a serene forest. This is an extensive path, you can take it all the way down the Bayview Extension and back up to Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
Photo cred: Intiaz Rahm
8. Gibraltar Point Beach
This beach is on Toronto Island. The Island is a bit of a trek, but once you finally do it, you will understand why this is on the list. Everything about it is an escape from city life, right from the beginning, when you step onto the ferry. There are many beaches to choose from on the Island, this one in particular can transport you to a different place. It is one of the most secluded, the only thing you can see from this point is a horizon. Bring some food if you plan to stay long, because you will not find much to buy there. Definitely plan to stay, make a small fire on the beach and have some unforgettable/forgettable times with some good friends. Don't get stuck there though, the ferries do stop running at some point, so check out the schedule before you go.
Photo Cred: Kenn Chaplin
9. High Park
Photo Cred: Tom Arban
10. Humber River Bike/Pedestrian Bridge
This bridge is a great lookout point, reaching over the Humber River, it connects to boardwalks and other trail that lead to Lake Simcoe and Lake Ontario. You can see this bridge from Lakeshore Boulevard, which is just north of it. It is especially spectacular at night as the whole thing lights up.