We all have heard that walking is one of the best ways to keep in shape. Not only does walking help burn calories, it is a great activity to do while holding a meeting, catching up with friends, clearing your mind, or admiring nature’s bounty.
Toronto’s neighbourhoods provide a cornucopia of delight. The following Toronto walks offer some of the best scenery in the city, so make sure to bring along your camera.
High Park, Toronto
High Park is one of Toronto’s gems and if you haven’t been yet, you’ll be amazed at its size. High Park was originally owned by John George Howard, who conveyed the property to the City of Toronto, and is over 400 acres. There are several hilly sections in the southern part of High Park that can either be tackled or avoided depending on your fitness level. A good place to start your walk is midway into the park south of the Bloor Street entrance where you can park your car at any of the free parking lots. Continue your walk south and don’t be surprised if you see squirrels, rabbits, racoons, red foxes, opossums, muskrats, beavers, blue jays, red-winged blackbirds, cardinals, goldfinches, kingbirds, woodpeckers, egrets, and even Great Blue Herons. Descend along one of the walking trails towards Grenadier Pond and take in the magnificent vista of the maple, birch, and oak trees along the rippling water. Swing back up the hill and pass through well-manicured gardens towards the Grenadier Cafe where you can stop for an all day breakfast or other reasonably priced nourishment. They also host Shakespeare in High Park in the summer.
Sunnyside Beach was a popular bathing pavilion in the 1930s when Lake Ontario was clean enough to swim in. Today, it is home to Toronto’s largest outdoor swimming pool, as well as a well-travelled section of the Martin Goodman Trail. Frequented by young mothers pushing strollers, couples deep in conversation, and roller bladers and cyclists, the trail along Sunnyside is remarkable for its proximity to the beach and shores of Lake Ontario.
On clear days, you can see many sailboats dotting the horizon, as well as St. Catharines to the west, and the upper New York State to the south. Rowers and kayakers in the harbour provide a charming diversion and if you block out the sound of traffic from the nearby Lake Shore Blvd., you can pretend that you are up north at the cottage.
Wilket Creek Park
Wilket Creek Park, located south of Lawrence Ave. E. and Leslie St., is a wonderfully peaceful place to stroll during the week (it’s busier with cyclists during the weekend) as you follow the winding Don River through the park. You can park your car at Edwards Gardens, which links into Wilket Creek Park, or you can drive south on Leslie St., just north of Eglinton Ave. E., where there is another entrance to the park. Wilket Creek Park is also a popular Toronto picnic spot so you may want to pack a lunch because you’ll be tempted to stay awhile.
Philosopher’s Walk and U of T
Philosopher’s Walk is a quiet oasis right in the middle of busy Bloor Street West and Avenue Road. The walk starts from Bloor Street West, just west of the Royal Ontario Museum and winds through the northerly part of the University of Toronto including the Faculty of Music and the back field of Trinity College. The walk provides a shortcut from the U of T Campus to Bloor Street and is thus most frequented by time-pressed students. Perhaps the name graces the walk with some meditative quality as it is all too tempting to slow down your pace and engage in contemplation of life’s great questions. The end of Philosopher’s Walk emerges on to Hoskin Avenue (the easterly extension of Harbord Street) where you can continue to Tower Road and either walk south towards the impressive University College and King’s College Circle, or continue west to St. George Street, U of T’s main thoroughfare and home of Robarts Library and Knox College.