From the first moments of thaw all the way through whispers of summer heat, springtime in Toronto is an open invitation to enjoy the outdoors. Along with the warming temperatures, a variety of hiking trails in and around the city welcome fitness buffs and adventurers of all levels.
Springtime hikes in the Toronto area can be family-friendly walks under a kilometer or challenging climbs for competitors. Many hikes appeal to mid-level fitness fans, too. Along with the heart-pumping exercise, expect scenic beauty and diverse wildlife. Here, in alphabetical order, are 19 standout trails for springtime hikers in the Toronto area:
1. Albion Hills Conservation Area
Once ice and snow yield to warmer temps, this conservation area provides more than 40 kilometers of nature trails to suit all fitness levels. Expect gorgeous scenery, spots for mountain biking and adventure racing and stopping points perfect for picnics. Group camping and special events become more frequent as temperatures rise.
2. Beamer Memorial Conservation Area
Panoramic views of the Niagra Escarpment and Lake Ontario, breathtaking cliffs and scenic waterfalls are the top reasons to hike at Beamer Memorial. In spring, nature-lovers flock here to observe the seasonal hawk migration just an hour’s drive from Toronto’s city center.
3. Bruce Trail
Canada’s oldest marked footpath, Bruce Trail runs along the Niagra Escarpment in southern Ontario for vast distances. The main trail is 890 kilometers and branches into an additional 400 kilometers of side trails. A charitable organization, The Bruce Trail Conservancy, is committed to preserving the Bruce Tail as a permanent route within a protected natural corridor.
4. The Don River Valley Park
Part of Toronto’s burgeoning downtown, the Don River Valley Park spans 200 hectares between Pottery Road and Corktown Common. Especially in spring, hikers and walkers can view wildlife like deer, fox, muskrats and great blue herons along the Don River’s edge. It also features an art trail.
5. Ganaraska Trail
This extensive hiking trail collection totals more than 500 kilometers, starting in Port Hope and connecting with the Bruce Trail some 400 kilometers later. Events like Sunday McGee Creek Walks vary by season, so visitors are encouraged to double check the trail website before setting out.
6. High Park
As Toronto’s largest public park, it’s only natural that High Park would offer something for anyone looking to enjoy the outdoors. For nature lovers and outdoor buffs, High Park has diverse vegetation, an appealing lakefront, and greenhouse. Along with hiking and walking, activities include a zoo, picnicking, playgrounds, and even a few eateries. The park plays host to events throughout the year.In spring, it’s a choice spot for selfies and portraits with a cherry blossom backdrop.
7. Joker’s Hill/Thornton Bales Conservation Area
If climbing 99 steps alongside a diverse ecosystem sounds like fun, Joker’s Hill is a great choice. Along with trails, the conservation area includes Koffler Scientific Reserve, which has conducted research on many aspects of forest ecology, including pollinating insects and global change.
8. Leslie Street Spit Trail
This trail emerged almost by chance 40 years ago, when its planned role as a breakwater for an expanded harbor fell through. Today, this extraordinary public urban wildlife reserve, built by lake-filling, juts from a spot close to downtown into Lake Ontario. No cars are allowed on the 5-kilometer peninsula, which boasts numerous trails and close to 400 regional and Canadian plant species, many of them rare.
9. Lynde Shores Conservation Area
Day-trip distance from Toronto, Lynde Shores includes a collection of hiking trails that suit various fitness levels, from simple to strenuous. Founded in 1972, the conservation area in spring is a birder’s paradise. It provides habitat for numerous nesting birds and is an important stop for migrating waterfowl making their way along Lake Ontario’s North Shore.
10. Mount Nemo
Popular with kids and dog owners, Mount Nemo is about an hour west of downtown Toronto. The place is a relaxing retreat from urban bustle and also includes 5 kilometers of trails ideal for friendly walks or more challenging workouts. Nemo also offers plenty of chances to see wildlife and plants emerging in the spring or year-round panoramic escarpment views.
11. Rattlesnake Point
Twelve kilometers of nature preserve contains numerous caves, striking cliff lines and overlooks galore. Hikers and climbers can enjoy scenic beauty and wildlife including thousand-year-old cedars, circling turkey vultures and nighttime constellations. Three trails accommodate all fitness levels, with a 7.2 kilometer round trip to the Crawford Lake Conservation Area providing the toughest challenge. The park offers 17 sites for overnight camping, too.
12. Rouge National Urban Park
Famous as Canada’s first (and so far only) national urban park, Rouge National sits an hour from downtown. It boasts nine trails that challenge the toughest, offer a pleasant walk for the softest and offer a hiking opportunity for any level in between. Guided walks are also available. Fishing, photography, cycling and volunteer opportunities round out the park’s offerings.
13. Scarborough Bluffs
A secluded spot that showcases the east Toronto waterfront, Scarborough Bluffs reach a peak height of around 65 meters above the water in Cliffside. The erosion that created the bluffs also formed a few unusual shapes that kids and nature-lovers both enjoy. The hiking trail runs below the bluffs and through Bluffers Park. A quiet place, the Scarborough Bluffs stretch about 14 kilometers from the Eastern Beaches of Toronto to West Hill.
14. Spencer Adventure Trail
Part of the Spencer Gorge/Webster Falls Conservation Area, this trail runs along Spencer Creek through an early industrial community. It connects from Christie Lake to Dundas Peak. Its historic high points include mills, waterfalls and geologic formations that literally date back to the last ice age.
15. The West Humber Trail
A great place for people who like to hike with their dogs, this 8-kilometer trail provides a mix of paths that are paved, hard-packed, or grassy. The mood is serene and the scenery relaxing, full of gardens and woods along the river. Also popular with bikers, the trail includes multiple natural habitats and the famed Toronto Carrying-Place Trail, a historic trade route of the aborigines.