We’ve all been there: it’s the middle of winter in Toronto, and you’re tired of being indoors! Before you know it, you’re googling “hiking trail near me” and itching for a wintery adventure. Since Toronto winters have lately meant a partial lockdown of the city, it isn’t easy to find enjoyable and safe activities these days. That’s why we’ve curated a list of 5 Toronto hiking trails for you to discover and enjoy. These trails range in popularity and are all around the city, so you can find the one closest to you.
Looking To Become More Active?
Exploring the many trails in Toronto is also a great way to achieve your New Year’s resolution of becoming more active. Walking is a type of exercise people can do without tiring out too quickly. You can take your time, soak up the beautiful winter sights, and walk for longer periods with proper footwear.
It’s also a great way to ease into more challenging types of exercise and prep your feet for core strengthening exercises. Specifically, regular walking leads to stronger bones and improved balance and can help manage joint and muscle stiffness.
As a foot clinic, we’re also going to give you the lowdown on some vital foot care tips to remember while enjoying your next winter excursion and getting into shape. Let’s get to it!
5 Best Toronto Hiking Trails This Winter
Location: 1873 Bloor St West, Toronto
High Park is a Toronto staple and the second-largest park in the city. It has many beaten paths in addition to several peaceful trails – like the one above – for all of your hiking needs. It’s known among nature photographers and birdwatchers as one of the best areas to explore during the winter.
While High Park is right in the middle of urban sprawl, it’s truly unique in how it helps city dwellers feel a sense of escape. Winter lovers will enjoy the many areas where you can strap on the snowshoes and connect with nature. What’s more, there are several wooded areas throughout the 5 km of trail that surrounds the park.
You can also check out a picturesque view of Grenadier Pond! Other ponds in High Park include the Lower and Upper Duck Ponds towards the southeast end of the park and Ridout Pond towards the north end. It can be a little icy around these areas, so you should suit up with a shoe with good traction, like the Saucony Peregrine Ice.
Evergreen Brick Works
Location: 550 Bayview Ave, Toronto
Also referred to as the Don Valley Brick Works, this quarry and former industrial site is one of the most exciting places to visit in Toronto this winter. It’s surrounded by a network of trails, suitable for short walks and longer hikes. Specifically, the Don Valley River Park has over 200 hectares of wintery trails ready for you to explore. Walking all of the trails will get you plenty of exercise, so why not enjoy the outdoors while also getting your 10,000 steps?
There’s certainly no shortage of scenery in the Brick Works. If you happen to venture out on a day that’s not too slippery, you can work your way up to the lookout point that gives you a spectacular view of Toronto and the perfect photo opportunity. The lookout is located roughly in the middle of the Don Valley River and Bayview Avenue. There are also plenty of ponds, marshlands and forestry to take in, and if you’re lucky, you might also get a quick peek at a deer, fox or beaver! To see a complete map of the Brick Works’ Don Valley River Park and determine the best route for you, you can click here.
Humber River Trail
Location: 13 Crosby Ave, Toronto
Checking out the Humber River Trail is another excellent way to escape the hustle and bustle of Toronto without leaving the city. The best way to start would be Etienne Brule Park. This entrance takes you on a journey down the Humber River Recreational Trail.
There are plenty of paved walkways; however, to get the most scenic experience, you can check out the less beaten gravel and footpaths that run along the river. The entire distance is about 8 km, so make sure you prepare for a long trip if you want to see as much as possible. Around halfway through your adventure, you’ll encounter a footbridge that gives you a great view of the Humber River.
Tommy Thompson Park
Location: 1 Leslie St, Toronto
Often called “Toronto’s urban wilderness,” and sometimes called the Leslie Street Spit, Tommy Thompson Park is spectacular during the wintertime. It extends from Leslie Street south towards the water, so make sure you layer up for this trail as it can get extra windy the further south you go.
This manmade peninsula has one multi-use paved trail that lets you get started and figure out where you’d like to go. You can then choose from two gravel pedestrian trails and a separate nature trail where you can observe flora and fauna that make the wintertime extra special. Tommy Thompson is known as one of the best bird-watching areas in the city, so if that’s your thing, make sure you bring some binoculars and a camera while you’re on your walk.
As you walk along the shore, you’ll also notice some pretty unique ice formations, and you can check out the city skyline from the tip of the Leslie Spit.
Location: Crothers Woods Trail, East York
This is a lesser-known trail in Toronto close to the Brick Works. It’s perfect for someone who needs to escape and experience some alone time. Likewise, the best time to visit this trail may be the winter since you’re less likely to encounter cyclists who share the space.
Crothers Woods has 10 km of nature trails perfect for getting some exercise in the middle of winter. You can choose to travel along the Crothers Woods Loop, which is around 2.4 km long and gives you a great view of the Don River. Since it’s not too lengthy, it’s a good choice for beginner hikers.
According to BlogTO, Crothers Woods is also considered environmentally significant by conservation authorities. You may even spot a white-tailed deer in the area!
If you’re interested in old landmarks, you can also check out an abandoned railroad (CN Rail Bridge) on your adventure. Crothers Woods is truly an escape, with narrow, winding trails and a serene atmosphere.
Hiking Foot Care Tips
- Custom orthotics and Superfeet insoles can be the perfect accompaniment for beginner hikers and people with foot pain. Mobility challenges and painful foot conditions can be a big barrier to people looking to become more active. Using inserts and orthotics can provide stability, arch support, correct any biomechanical abnormalities and reduce the impact you feel from the ground. If you’re worried your disability or condition could prevent you from tackling your fitness goals, you can speak with a chiropodist about inserts.
- Both men and women should wear winterized hiking shoes or boots for winter treks. As we mentioned, the Saucony Peregrine Ice is great for trails with shallow snow on the ground and has an excellent grip. The Mephisto Nigata Tex is also a great hiking boot for people with painful foot conditions. It’s a good idea to consider the depth of the snow you’ll be hiking through when selecting hiking footwear.
- Protecting yourself from dry feet and cracked heels will make hiking more enjoyable. Check out this blog for products that help manage dry skin!
- People with mobility issues can still enjoy hikes and walks, but you should assess how long of a distance you can handle.
- Strengthening exercises and stretches can work wonders! They can keep you walking longer by prepping the muscles and joints in your lower body for your hiking adventures.