Autumn is a special time of year in Canada when the leaves turn deep reds and yellows, every step on a sidewalk is met with a crisp crunch, the breeze is just a little bit cooler and social-media feeds become cluttered with photos of radiant shrubbery. This, of course, is natures way of distracting us from the cruel reality of the approaching Toronto winter filled with chilling-down-to-the-bone wind tunnels and 6 feet high snow banks. More reason to enjoy this lovely season and maybe enjoy a hike or two and bask in all the nature has to offer.
Hiking is the prefect way to escape the stresses of the day or week, take in a bit of fresh air and get your exercise…without it feeling like exercise, whether it’s an afternoon event or just a 20 minute break. There are many amazing hiking trails in Toronto that feel like you’re a million miles from the city’s concrete canyons. I rounded up five spots where you can admire autumn in the city.
High Park – How could this not be No.1? This park is known for it’s beautiful scene during Cherry Blossom season, but in the fall when the ground is covered in crunchy, yellow leaves and the tree tops are orange and red, the park is just as stunning. If you live downtown or west of the city, High Park is very easy to get to. Located just south of Bloor Street West, it’s a short walk from High Park subway station, but if you’re driving, there is parking available also. The park can be navigated by foot or bike, but the forested areas have dirt paths that are better managed on foot. Besides hiking in the forest, you can enjoy a walk around the Grenadier Pond and even bring the dog along to the off-leash area.
Bluffer’s Park – This easily accessible park located in Scarborough is just south of Kingston Road and has plenty of parking. Much of the park is sand so not great for cycling, but there is a gravel trail at one end of the park for those that prefer cycling to walking. The visitors of the park have an opportunity to explore the 14 kilometre geological feature that is the Scarborough Bluffs. Although the season for volleyball and beach fun has ended, the park provides stunning views of bluffs formed by the Wisconsin Glacier, 12,000 years ago.
Sherwood Park & Off-Leash Dog Trail – This park can be accessed from the stairs and a wheelchair path from Blythwood Road. It’s about a 20 minute walk from the Eglinton subway station, but parking is available on Sherwood Avenue if you choose to drive. The trails are quite short in distance and better approached by foot, but great for hiking around with little ones and pets. There is also a playground, a baseball diamond and a picnic area with shelter. Not to mention, the east side of the park makes for a beautiful sight with lots of oranges and reds in view.
King’s Mill Park – This park is part of the Humber River, Old Mill and Marshes area of the city boasting 7.3 kilometres of asphalt trails and several wildlife and heritage sites. The Toronto Carrying Place Trail, known as the Humber Portage, is an important route for Natives and traders, and the surrounding marshes make up the largest watershed in Toronto. This region is also an important migratory corridor for birds and butterflies, and its waters are home to over 60 species of fish. Bring the dog as there is a wide, unfenced off-leash area, but watch out for wildlife (coyotes and snakes). If you’re taking the transit, exit at Old Mill station and follow the Discovery Walk signs to King Mill Park. Parking is also available on site.
Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area – Although not exactly in Toronto, a 30 minute drive west to Milton is well worth it for serious hikers, with over 12 kilometre trails and amazing views from the Niagara Escarpment. Not only are there plenty of hiking trails, there are also bike paths and three designated spots for rock climbers. This natural environment park is perfect for that therapeutic walk in the woods. You can soak up this relaxed atmosphere even longer by enjoying a picnic in the grassy meadows or an overnight stay at one of the group campsites. Just south of the Hwy. 401, the park is easy to find and offers plenty of parking.