The sun’s out and school’s almost done, so why not bring your family, take a hike and discover some of the Ontario’s picturesque natural attractions?
Hiking, according to Tourism Toronto spokesperson Vanessa Somarriba, is one of the most relaxing ways to explore the city and nearby areas.
“[It] allows visitors and locals to enjoy the sights, get in touch with nature, and see the city’s natural beauty and also get away from the hustle and bustle,” she said.
Somarriba and Ontario Trails Council executive director Patrick Connor suggested 10 trails that families can take on from the heart of downtown Toronto to the waterfront edges of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Further information about these trails can be accessed through the Ontario Trails Council website.
1 Don River Trail
Arguably the best trail in Toronto according to Connor, the Don’s 13.8 km paved trails are suitable for families that want to go for long or short walks in the summer heat. The trail is close enough to be reached via the TTC, but can transport you into a totally natural surrounding.
2 Rosedale Ravine Trail
The ravine trail will take you in a loop around the city. Starting from Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue, it goes across Forest Hill and features trees that are more than 150 years old. The eight kilometre natural trail through the heart of the city is very accessible yet gives hikers a forested area in which to stroll.
“The Rosedale Ravine is popular to those who just want to take a leisurely stroll in the city,” Connor said.
3 West Humber Valley Trail
Another urban nature trail, the 10 km West Humber River Valley trail features wide paved paths that wend around expansive woodlands and ornamental gardens at the Humber Arboretum, which has ponds and other wild areas. The trail can be easily reached from the Humberwood Centre.
4 Rouge Valley Trail
On its way to becoming Canada’s first near-urban national park, Rouge Park has 12 km of rustic hiking trails. Connecting several parks like Bruce’s Mills Conservation Area, Rouge Beach Park, and Glen Eagles Vista, the trails include walks over steep hills, along sandy beaches, and through lush woodlands.
“There are great trails in Rouge Park along the border of Toronto and Pickering,” Somarriba said.
The park system also has the only campground in the city where you and your family can rest after a long day’s journey.
5 Scarborough Bluffs Trail
The Scarborough Bluffs is one of Scarborough’s most well-known landmarks featuring a trail that leads to a park and other naturalized areas. Picnic areas are also scattered along the trail for families who want to rest in between walks.
“This scenic waterfront trail is quiet and secluded,” Connor said. “It’s great for every family.”
6 Cooksville Creek Trail
This four kilometre trail can be accessed from Shipp Drive south of Rathburn Road, is a combination of paved and gravel paths that connect to the Lakeshore, the Mississauga Valley Trail or the Mississauga Meadow Trail.
“Cooksville Creek Trail provides a quiet escape right in downtown Mississauga,” Somarriba said.
7 Royal Botanical Gardens trails
Home to more than 1,100 plant species and over 37 km of trails, the 980-hectare sanctuary has lands stretching from Burlington to Hamilton. There are teahouses, cafes, and picnic grounds along most trails where families can relax and smell the flowers.
“The Royal Botanical Gardens is one of the most beautiful parklands in Ontario,” Connor said.
8 Heart Lake Trail
Set around a heart-shaped lake, this eight kilometre north Brampton trail allows visitors to experience scenic nature views and water activities. After hiking, families can go to one of the conservation area’s 14 private picnic sites with barbeque facilities, fish for rainbow trout, kayak or have kids enjoy the new water play facility.
9 Dundas Valley Trail
The 40 km Dundas Valley trail is one of the longest trails in the list. The multi-use trail varies from challenging ridge walks to rolling terrain, and gives hikers a scenic view of forest, fields, cold-water streams, and rare plants and wildlife. Located at the edge of Dundas, the vast conservation area is perfect for hikers looking for a please stroll away from the city.
10 Niagara River Recreation Trail
Running parallel to the Niagara River, the Niagara River Recreation trail is a 53 km-long paved path that features Niagara’s picturesque countryside. The historic trail is divided between four areas: Niagara-on-the-Lake to Queenston, Queenston to the Whirlpool Aero Car, Chippawa to Black Creek, and Black Creek to Fort Erie. The trail is easily accessible and is shared by cyclists, joggers, and pedestrians.
Things to bring when you go for a hike
After choosing the ideal hiking spot, there are several things that families should remember according to Ontario Trails Council executive director Patrick Connor.
“You know that you had a great time hiking if during the return home everyone is stress-free, happy, and safe,” said Connor.
To ensure an excellent and problem-free hiking experience, families should keep these pointers in mind:
• Travel in short duration when with children as they tend to tire more easily
• Always check the weather before hand and be prepare for it to change
• Wear weather-appropriate clothes and comfortable shoes
• Always stay on the trail and share it with other hikers
• Don’t damage the trails
• Hike in silence as much as possible
Hikers should also remember to bring these essentials:
• Extra water or energy drinks and snacks
• A map of the trail and the general area
• Sun protection like sunglasses, hats, and sunscreen
• Second layer of warm clothing for cold days
• Flashlight and spare batteries
• Signaling device like whistles
• Cellphone or radios
• Compass or GPS
• Small backpack
• Hiking boots
• First aid kit
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