Often met with hesitation – at times utter hatred – the outdoors can be unfriendly during Toronto’s winter months. Already met with above average snowfall and a crippling Christmas ice storm, Torontonians are quick to dismiss the outdoor delights that dot our urban landscape. More convenient and mesmerizing than one might think, here are 5 winter hiking spots in Toronto that will keep you active and enchanted with our snowy city…
With guided walks available each week, easy access from a variety of TTC bus routes, and over 40-square-kilometers of rich biodiversity in the heart of the GTA, the Rouge River Valley is optimal for all outdoor enthusiasts. A mix of forest and field, the Rouge Park occupies lands in the Rouge River watershed, as well as neighbouring Petticoat Creek and Duffins Creek watersheds. Make sure to check park conditions before planning your visit.
Taylor Creek Trail
A 12km-long tributary of the Don River, Taylor Massey Creek flows through Scarborough and East York. Just a 5-minute walk from Victoria Park subway station, the Taylor Creek Trail makes for a beautifully wooded 3.5km East End escape for hikers and snowshoers alike.
York Regional Forest
Part of the Oak Ridges Moraine protected area at the north end of the GTA, it may take a little longer to get here, but the 21 public trails of the York Regional Forest make for a perfect afternoon in the outdoors. With ample parking and detailed trail maps available online, the 2,000 hectares of walkable wonders are suited to all skill levels. Hiking, snowshoe and cross-country ski trails wind through a mix of planted and natural forest – a haven for winter wildlife like deer, woodpeckers, foxes, coyotes and other forest dwellers.
High Park can get a little crowded at times, however the convenience and scale of Toronto’s largest urban oasis makes it a worthy spot for a winter day sojourn. The TTC can take you from just about anywhere to get here and the diversity of wildlife is without comparison around this branch of the city. The twisted branches of leafless Sakura trees make for a pretty pic when the light catches them just right.
The Old Mill & Old Mill Marshes are a not only a great starting place for a winter hike, it’s also a recognized Ontario Heritage Site. The Humber River watershed is the largest in Toronto and its network of trails spans 7.3km. Where migratory fish like pike, salmon and trout can be observed from the Old Mill Bridge (built in 1793) during the fall, impressive ice jams collect here during winter months.