Living in Canada’s biggest city can be a challenge when you love to run on trails – and it’s even harder when you don’t have a car. What’s a TTC-dependent trail runner to do?
Luckily, you can actually get to a bunch of scenic, challenging Toronto trails using TTC or Go Transit. Next time you’re about to resign yourself to another run on pavement, grab your transit pass (plus a running buddy and your trail running essentials) and head to one of these rugged GTA trails.
1. Don Valley Trails
Newer trail runners will love the Don Valley’s mostly paved trails that wind through urban forests and community green spaces. Convenient entries and exits make it easy to plan shorter runs from one TTC stop to another, or a longer out-and-back route.
If you’re running on a weekend, visit the Evergreen Brick Works farmers’ market to refuel or finish your run with a load of local veggies.
- Ontario Science Centre: From downtown Toronto, take the Yonge Street subway to Eglington Station, then take the 34 Eglinton East bus to Don Mills Road. From other start points, use these great directions.
- Evergreen Brick Works: Take the subway to Davisville Station, then transfer to the 28 Bayview South bus. Or catch the free Evergreen Brick Works shuttle bus from just north of Broadview subway station.
2. Crothers Woods
Want to feel like you’re miles away from the city? Head for a run among the wildflowers and 100-year-old trees in Crothers Woods. With 10km of trails to explore, you can practice tackling hills on an independent training loop, or add a little extra length to your Don Valley run.
TTC access: Take the 56 Leaside or 88 South Leaside bus and get off near Redway Road, then walk to the trailhead near the Loblaws.
3. Beltline Trail
Based on the path of an old railway, the Beltline Trail traces the northeastern edge of the city. It runs from the Allen Expressway north of Eglinton, through Mount Pleasant Cemetery, down to the Evergreen Brick Works, where it connects with the Don Valley trails. With mixed terrain and mostly flat, wide pathways, it’s a good option for newer trail runners or those wanting to run intervals to boost their speed.
- Allen and Eglinton: Take the Yonge-University line to Eglinton West station, then run north on the pathway just east of Allen Rd.
- Clair: Take the Yonge-University line to St. Clair Station, then head east on St. Clair Ave E.
4. High Park
At 400 acres, Toronto’s largest park gives trail runners lots of room to play and train. High Park’s natural and asphalt trails weave around a lake and offer tons of opportunities to train for distance, speed and hills. Plus, its proximity to Bloor Street means you can enjoy a leisurely brunch after your Sunday long run.
- The Queensway: Take the 501 Street Car to Parkside Drive or Colborne Lodge Drive.
- High Park Station: Take the Bloor-Danforth line to High Park Station, then walk south across Bloor into the park.
5. Kortright Centre for Conservation
It’s a bit of a trip from downtown, but the 555-acre Kortright Centre for Conservation offers plenty of opportunities to explore. With 16km of trails ranging from wide limestone-covered paths to technical singletrack, it’s plenty of fun for new and seasoned trail runners alike. One spot to check out: Coyote Alley, where huge trees line the trail to create a shady green tunnel.
- The 4A Pine Valley and 85 Napa Valley busses stop just outside the conservation area.
- From downtown, take the Yonge-University Line to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station. Then catch the 20 Teston bus to Major Mackenzie Drive and transfer to the 4A Pine Valley bus.
Admission: $8.50 per adult, $6.50 per senior, $3 per youth (age 5–15). Parks members visit for free.
6. Humber Arboretum
More than 10km of gravel, grass and paved trails weave through the Humber Arboretum’s 250 acres, giving runners many options for loops and out-and-backs. As you travel through the wild areas and ornamental gardens, keep an eye out for the 1700+ species of trees and flowering plants – how many can you spot?
- Take the 96 Wilson from Wilson Station or York Mills Station (West) or Humberline Loop (East).
- Take the 191 Highway 27 Rocket from Kipling Station (North) or Steeles/Martin Grove Loop (South).
- Take the 186 Wilson Rocket from York Mills.
7. Rouge Valley
Incredible biodiversity and more than 79 square kilometres of marshes, beaches, forests and working farms await in the Rouge Valley. Canada’s first national urban park offers everything from rolling flats to rugged, steep trails. In the fall, head to Vista Trail for a stunning view of the valley’s foliage as it changes colours.
TTC access: Take the Bloor-Danforth line to Kennedy Station, then the 86 bus to the Toronto Zoo and the Rouge Valley Conservation Centre.
8. Dundas Valley Conservation Area
It’s a little farther afield, but the Dundas Valley Conservation Area might be worth the trip for a weekend long run change of scenery – and yes, you can get there on public transit. The 6000-acre jewel includes trails of various lengths and types of terrain, so you can train for a trail ultra without having to head to the mountains.
Transit access: From Union Station, take the 16 Hamilton Go Bus to Main Street W. at Paisley Avenue S., then run 5km into the park.
Toronto trail races
Ready to put all your training to the test? Check out the MEC Race Series for Toronto trail running races. We’ve teamed up with Parkbus to offer free bus rides to all these races, so you won’t have to worry about how to get to the trailhead.