Favourite Toronto Walks -Mid-Toronto Loop

Part of a series on my favourite walking trails in Toronto.

Hey Toronto, remember to practice Physical Distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic! As part of its COVID-19 strategy, the City of Toronto had closed some facilities in the parks noted below. Check the City’s website for more info before you go.

And now on to the regular post …..

Graffiti art on the Lower Don

I was thinking about how to make an all-day walk that tied together some of my favourite parks and trails in mid-Toronto, and looking at a map I realized that I could put together something that stared and ended in mid-town and took in the Don Valley, the lakefront, and the parks and trails to the west around Roncesvalles. Here’s what I came up with:

This takes in a number of Toronto’s wonderful leafy parks (Moore Ravine Park, Corktown Common, Coronation Park, Marilyn Bell Park, Sunnyside Park, and Earlscourt Park), along with the Mount Pleasant and Prospect Cemeteries, and incorporates big chunks of the Kay Gardner Beltline and York Beltline Trails, Lower Don Trail, Martin Goodman Trail, and the West Toronto Rail Path Trail. Whew!

Length: Depending on your exact route and any detours, it will be about 30-32 km. Allow yourself about 7-8 hours to give time for breaks, picnics, and perhaps some shopping.

Surface: Mostly paved, with some gravel paths along the Kay Gardner Beltline.

Public Transit: Take subway Line 1 to Davisville Station and walk south 2 blocks along Yonge Street to Merton Street. Cross at the lights, walk about 50m east and turn into the laneway behind condo to reach the Beltline Trail opposite the gate into Mount Pleasant Cemetery. The finish is the same spot, so just reverse your steps to get back to Davisville Station.

Route:

Starting in mid-town on the Kay Gardner Beltline Trail on the north side of Mount Pleasant Cemetery, it follows that Trail through the Cemetery and then out on the south-east end, to continue down the Moore Ravine past the Don Valley Brickworks. Here, divert to the Brickworks for a pitstop, and then cross Bayview to join the Lower Don Trail.

Continue south on the Don Valley Trail to Rosedale Valley Drive. Since the Don Trail stops here, it climbs the hill beside St. James Cemetery and then enters Riverdale Park, following the trails there back down into the Don Valley to pick up the Lower Don Trail again. Continuing south, it reaches Corktown Common and then bends around to the west as it joins the Martin Goodman Trail along the lake.

Continuing west on the Martin Goodman Trail, you go all the way across to Sunnyside Park, and then take the footbridge over the roads and rail lines to reach Roncesvalles Avenue. Walking north up Roncy, you reach Grenadier Road, turn east for a bit, and then jog north up Sorauren Avenue to reach Dundas St W. Turning east, you follow Dundas for about 100m to reach the start of the West Toronto Rail Trail. This takes you north for several km past Bloor Street, and deposits you on Osler St, where you jog north and west to reach Davenport Road, just west of Earlscourt Park.

Cutting through the park, you emerge onto St. Clair Avenue at the bottom of Prospect Cemetery. The roads through here wind north and exit onto Eglinton Avenue. Turning west for a bit, you find Caledonia Road, go north to Bowie Avenue, and then turn west to pick up the start of the York Beltline Trail. This then curves north and then east, taking you eventually to Marlee Avenue. Exiting this trail, you cross Marlee at the lights, follow Elmridge Drive over the Allen Expressway, and then turn into the lane to join the Kay Gardner Beltline again at its western end. Following this all the way back to Mount Pleasant Cemetery completes the loop.

Sights:

What I like about this route is that it shows off so many of the best parts of Toronto – the parks, the ravines, the trails, the lake, and diverse neighbourhoods full of shops, restaurants, and bars. You get some natural fun along with some urban colour.

At the start, Mount Pleasant Cemetery is worth a visit all by itself. I love wondering its cool shaded roads and exploring the history of Toronto expressed in the headstones and monuments. The Kay Gardner Beltline Trail is incorporated into the Cemetery, so you can just follow the purple line painted on the road, or you can detour and explore a bit.

As you exit the Cemetery, you enter one of the best walking trails in Toronto, the Moore Ravine Trail. The trees, the quiet, the burbling of Mud Creek, and the people watching are all fantastic. It’s a short walk, but it then takes you past the Don Valley Brickworks, again a worthy destination on its own.

Cool Moore Ravine shade on a hot summer day

From the Brickworks, following the Lower Don Trail takes you under the Prince Edward Viaduct that carries Bloor Street and the subway over the Don Valley. Climbing the hill at Rosedale Valley Road takes you into Riverdale and east Cabbagetown. The zoo and park here are great fun for kids, and in summer the hot dog and ice cream vendors are worth a treat.

And of course, then there’s Corktown. The Common is one of my favourite recent additions to the City. I remember this area in the 1980’s as a post-industrial grey wasteland, and to see it now, transformed, is to be reminded that even if we badly bugger up the world, we can, if we put our minds to it, help nature reclaim and renew it.

The wavedeck at the foot of Spadina

The Martin Goodman Trail takes you through the Queen’s Quay neighbourhood, another area that’s seen huge changes over the past 20 years. The shops at Queens Quay itself have been joined in the area by many condo’s, and while I can’t say I’m a fan of tall glass towers, it does mean that there’s a much more residential feel in the area now. Combine that with reminders of industry like the Redpath Sugar Mills along with the marinas, the Harbourfront Centre’s art galleries, and little parks like the Toronto Music Garden and you get a diverse area with many things worth a detour and exploration.

Past Queens Quay, the lakeshore all the way west is mostly one big big green space divided into several parks – Coronation, Marilynn Bell, and Sunnyside. Each is chockfull of picnic areas, benches, Adirondack chairs, and cool shade. I could do without the roar of traffic from the busy nearby roads, but when you get a little quiet lull, the honk of geese and splash of waves reminds you that you’re next to Toronto’s greatest feature – Lake Ontario.

Little Norway Park along Queens Quay

Then you jump back into urban life, along Roncesvalles, where shops, restaurants, and bars abound. There’s a lot of life here and it’s changed so much over the past 20 years that I hardly recognize it. The recent addition of the Museum of Contemporary Art to the area just continues to boost an already-booming area.

The West Toronto Rail Path leads you into an area that hasn’t yet been gentrified (yes there are still some of those in mid-Toronto). This area still has a lot of older untrendy shops that remind you that actual working-class people still live in actual working-class houses.

Graffiti art along the West Toronto Rail Path

And then Earlscourt Park, leading to the Corso Italia area along St. Clair Avenue West brings you into a slice of Toronto that has seen waves of newcomers bring life along with their culture and foods. It’s changing still as it always has – come back in 20 years and the Corso Italia may become Little Mexico.

Prospect Cemetery is a cool oasis about 3/4s of the way through this walk, and like Mount Pleasant, it’s a reminder of so many things about Toronto’s past. Whereas Mount Pleasant’s early headstones show the Anglo-Scots surnames of the “Toronto the Good” era, in Prospect Cemetery the names are Irish, Ukrainian, Polish, and Portuguese – west Toronto has been working class for more than one hundred years.

Prospect Cemetery

You see that working class vibe as you leave Prospect and cross Eglinton. The houses and shops here are smaller but no less well tended than the bigger places near, for example, Rosedale or Forest Hill. And then joining the York Beltline, you are joining a path that follows one of the key transportation links that made this area an industrial powerhouse for decades. It’s slowly becoming more residential, and as you walk east back towards the finish, you move back in time from the newer redevelopments into the older, greener mid-town neighbourhoods.

greenery along the Beltline

In walking this, in many ways you do loops in time and in demographics as well as geographically. Along the way, the route takes you from the old City of York which dates back to 1780’s, neighbourhoods that grew up between the mid-nineteenth though to the mid-twentieth centuries, and up into the latest waves of downtown urbanization. It covers inner-city rent-controlled public housing, the latest young-homeowner condo forests, older working-class, and upscale old-money. And, it shows off the natural features of Toronto that I like the most – the ravines, creeks, rivers, and the lake.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the time of year will offer a lot of variety to this walk. You can do this in any season, though some of the trails can get icy in January and February. It’s, shall we say, bracing to walk along the lake in the winter, but when it’s cold and the waves are high the natural ice sculptures can be dramatic. Of course, autumn would always be lovely given the many treed paths and parks so a crisp October day might be perfect. And spring and summer offer their own joys. I did this walk recently, in July 2020, and picked a day that was in the mid-20’s. There are some stretches, especially near Ontario Place and on the York Beltline, where there is little shade, so if it’s bright and sunny you’ll definitely need sun protection.

Food & Refreshment:

There are many, many options along this route. If you like picnics, this route offers some excellent locations in the parks you pass. If you like quick bites, then there’s that too – food trucks, ice cream, coffee, and little cafes. And of course, there are restaurants galore, in parks like the Brickworks, or in neighbourhoods like Queens Quay, Roncevalles, or the Corso Italia.

Washrooms are located in most of the parks along the way, though many are closed in the cold months (November-April). There are year-round washrooms at the Brickworks, along Queens Quay, and in the community centres at Earlscourt Park and Memorial Park. There are also many coffee shops along the way where you can use the facilities for the price of a coffee.

In terms of water fountains, it’s best to carry at least some water. There are places in many of the parks but these are turned off in the cold months. Other liquid refreshment options abound along Queens Quay and in Roncesvalles.

Diversions:

  1. This is a route that is easy to break up over several days. The parks make good jumping on/off points – Corktown Common, Coronation Park, and Earlscourt Park are all near streetcar stops and can work well this way.
  2. If you are coming in from outside Toronto, you might want to stop/start at Union Station instead of Davisville. You can take the GO Train to Union and walk down Bay Street to Queens Quay, and join the loop that way.
  3. I’ve described this going clockwise around Toronto, but of course you could do it counter-clockwise. Either way, you have to descend from mid-town to the lake and climb back again, though I find the climb through Earlscourt and Prospect Cemetery to be a bit less steep than up the Don Valley and the Moore Ravine.
  4. In walking this, you’ll pass some great shopping/dining areas, especially around Corktown – the Distillery District and St. Lawrence Market are an easy detour away, and you can avoid the industrial grunge around the bottom of the Lower Don Trail where it joins the Martin Goodman Trail.
  5. If you really want to extend your loop, you can also incorporate the Toronto Islands. Just take the ferry at the bottom of Yonge over to Wards Island, walk the path west to Hanlon’s Point and ferry back to the docks to rejoin the path I’ve outlined. I’d allow at least 1.5 hours for this, including ferry waiting times.

TO Places – Roncesvalles and High Park

Part of a series on my favourite places to go for a walk in Toronto

Hey Toronto, remember to practice Physical Distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic! Restrictions placed by either the Province of Ontario or the City of Toronto may limit what you can do. Check the links for the latest info.

And now on to the regular post …..

Ronscesvalles is both a neighbourhood and a street, and its location next to High Park makes it a perfect area to explore, shop, and eat either before or after wandering the park.

Grenadier Pond in High Park

Location: The neighbourhood of Roncesvalles parallels the avenue of the same name for a few blocks to the east and west of the street. Roncesvalles Avenue starts a couple of blocks south of Bloor Street West, and runs south to end at Queen Street West. It’s bounded to the east by the train tracks that curve up from near Queen at about Landsdowne Street, and on the west by High Park, although many people would consider the streets immediately adjacent to the park to be the neighbourhood of High Park. Anyway, just aim for Roncesvalles Avenue and you know you are in Roncy the neighbourhood.

Art in the Park

Public Transit: Take Line 2 west to Keele Station, and walk south on Dundas a couple of blocks until the road forks – follow the right hand fork and you are on Roncesvalles Avenue. Or, take the 501 Queen streetcar from either Queen Station or Osgood Station on Line 1, and get off at the south end of Roncesvalles Avenue.

Why I like it:

Roncy the neighbourhood for me is really about the shops and restaurants along Roncesvalles Avenue. Years ago, when I first moved to Toronto, my brother had a tiny studio apartment at the corner of Dundas and Bloor. I used to visit and we’d walk down Roncy Avenue, which back then reflected the eastern European wave of immigration that had settled in the area in the 1920’s and 1930’s. You could get a decent schnitzel and a beer (but not much else) at a half-dozen places back then.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, the area started changing. The older generation started to sell off to a younger, and as we moved into the 2000’s, these younger folks had a different food and shopping sense. The older eastern European places started to change hands and gradually, as part of restaurant trends throughout the city, new flavours and cultures started to settle. Today, it’s 2 km of funky restaurants mixed with old favourites, where you can get a great BBQ, quality seafood, Asian fusion, and much more. You can also shop for locally grown organic produce, cheeses, books, clothes, or antiques, stop for a local not-another-coffee-chain coffee, or indulge in a drink at one of several bars.

Plus, you are just a couple of blocks from High Park. It’s easy to start on Roncy for breakfast or lunch, then go for nice stroll around the Park and end up back on Roncy to pick up fruit and veg for dinner before heading home. Of course, you can do the opposite and start in the Park for a brisk, appetite-building walk before satisfying that hunger in one of Roncy’s many restaurants.

Sights:

To be honest, if your idea of sights includes tall buildings and high culture, then this may not your place. On the other hand, if your idea of sights includes some funky fresh menu options and window-shopping in a real neighbourhood filled with the diversity of Toronto, then you are in the right place. Combine that with the natural beauty of High Park and you’re set.

Even then, there is culture in the hood. Just east of Roncy there is the new Museum of Contemporary Art on Sterling Road. Since that opened, a number of gallery spaces have started up in the area, creating a new cluster of art buzz that takes you outside the cloister that used to be centred near the AGO in downtown Toronto. It’s definitely worth a visit.

Another cool option is the Dream in High Park, when the Canadian Stage Company puts on a full length play by Shakespeare during the summer. I remember going 30 years ago (Midsummer’s Night Dream?), and it’s still a tradition. [Sad note: COVID-19 has cancelled this for 2020, alas! Cross your fingers for 2021]

The Dream stage area looking very COVID neglected in the summer of 2020

Of course, walking in the park is its own type of culture. I like coming in any season. Autumn of course is a natural, with the turning leaves. Spring is also great, especially in May when the cherry blossoms bloom in High Park (beware the crowds though, weekends can be brutal). A summer day is great, and so is a winter’s afternoon. Oh, let’s be honest, it’s always good. Just come.

Food & Refreshment:

As I’ve said, there are many restaurant, food shop, and bar options up and down Roncesvalles Avenue. There are also many more along Bloor West which forms the northern border of High Park, especially to the west of the park. These days as well, if you walk the length of Roncy down to Queen West and then turn left (east), you’ll go through Parkdale and several other changing/renewing neighbourhoods. It can be a great walk that way too.

In High Park itself, there’s a couple of places to eat including the famous Grenadier Restaurant, and often ice cream or food truck vendors in summer. There are washrooms throughout the park and lots of water fountains [but COVID-19 has many water fountains shut off in 2020 so bring your own water], though these are open only in the warm months between May and October. In the cool months, there are lots of coffee shops back on Bloor or Roncy where you can have a quick pit stop.

Diversions:

  1. Starting just east of Roncesvalle Avenue, at Lansdowne and Queen, is the newish West Toronto Railpath. It runs sort of north-south, and takes you up north of Bloor to near Davenport Road. It’s being expanded and in a few years will be connected into the city’s wider bike plan.
  2. Within High Park itself there are many trails and roads, some paved and some not. On a quiet weekday, it’s easy to get lost in what can feel like a giant forest in the middle of Toronto. You can spend a couple of hours covering many km of trails.
  3. High Park is also home to the High Park Zoo, a small but fun place for kids. We took our son there many times when he was a wee lad.
  4. At the bottom of Roncesvalles Avenue, where it crosses Queen West, there is a bridge and connector trail that crosses the train tracks, the busy Gardiner Expressway, and Lakeshore Boulevard. This lets you jump onto the Martin Goodman Trail along the shore of Lake Ontario, at Sunnyside Park. Either direction, east or west, is fun. I like to go west and cross back over Lakeshore at about Ellis Avenue in order to walk north just to the west of High Park, through the neighbourhood of Swansea, and end up back on Bloor West. From there I can turn right (east) and finish back at Roncesvalles.

Favourite Toronto Walks -Rosedale Rambles

Part of a series on my favourite walking trails in Toronto.

Hey Toronto, remember to practice Physical Distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic! As part of its COVID-19 strategy, the City of Toronto has closed the parks noted below. The Trail itself is open for walking, but the parks and their facilities are not.

And now on to the regular post …..

Toronto, like any city, has many neighbourhoods and all of them have some history and uniqueness to them. Some are hip and trendy, some are gritty, and some are upscale and stately. Rosedale is the latter. It’s long been known as a district of fine older homes set amongst quiet leafy streets, and that makes it a great area for a summer’s shady walk. Here’s a route that I’ve done before, and it’s equally great in the spring and autumn too.

Length: around 8 km, so about 1.5 hrs

Surface: paved (except in the parks)

Public Transit: To start, take the subway Line 1 to St. Clair Station. The finish on the route map is at Line 1 Rosedale Station, but an alternative is to finish at Line 1 Summerhill Station, both on Yonge Street.

Route:

Starting at St. Clair Station, exit the subway onto St. Clair Avenue East. Walk east on St. Clair (on the south side of the road to Inglewood Drive. Turn south and follow Inglewood as it bends to the east. Cross Mount Pleasant Road at the traffic lights and continue east on Inglewood to its end, where it bends to the right (south) and becomes Rosedale Heights Drive. Follow Rosedale Heights south and back west until you come to MacLennan Avenue. Turn left (south) and walk down the hill to the ramp on your right leading upwards – follow that onto the pedestrian bridge over the train tracks, over, and down the ramp onto Summerhill Avenue.

Pedestrian ramp over the train tracks at Summerhill

Once you are over the tracks, walk east on Summerhill to Chorley Park (a great spot for a picnic). Wander through the park and exit on the south west corner onto Roxborough Drive. Follow Roxborough west, passing Rosedale United Church and Whitney Park onto Edgar Avenue. Follow Edgar west to Rosedale Park, and turn left (south) onto MacLennnan. Follow that south to the roundabout and take the road to the south-east, Highland Avenue. Follow that southeast to Glen Road. Turn right on Glen Road and cross the bridge over the ravine.

View at the Glen Road Bridge

At South Drive, turn right (east) and follow that to Elm Avenue. Turn right (east) and follow Elm until it turns into Castlefrank Road. Follow Castlefrank east and then south as it bends. At Dale Avenue turn right (west) and follow Dale west to Glen Road. At Glen, turn right (north) and follow it to Maple Avenue, turning left (west) onto Maple and continuing to Sherbourne Street. At Sherbourne, turn right (north) and follow it to South Drive. Turn right (east) on South Drive and follow the curve around to the north, where it turns into Crescent Drive. Keep following Crescent as it curves around to the west and crosses over Mount Pleasant Road. To finish, follow Crescent west to to Rosedale Station, on Yonge Street.

Sights:

What’s lovely about this walk is that you get a combination of stately homes and parks for a rest. It’s a people-watching walk too, as there are always pedestrians out for a stroll. And it can be a fun, spot-the-flash-car walk as well – you’ll run out of fingers and toes before you run out of Porches to count, for example.

Rosedale prides itself on what it thinks of as understated elegance. This is not a bling-house neighbourhood, it’s more old money than new, more Chanel than Versace, more Mercedes than Ferrari. You walk here because it’s fun to imagine the lives behind the curtains.

While there’s no truly dramatic scenery nor any particularly impressive architecture, streets filled with large, red-brick homes dating back to the late 1800s tell a story of solidity and comfort. There is history here, in that the red bricks of the oldest homes probably came from the Don Valley Brickworks, like many of the other famous buildings in Toronto – Old City Hall, Massey Hall, and so on. And the area dates from a time when Canada and Toronto was establishing itself, post-1867 Confederation, as a prosperous, industrious part of the Empire.

While today, Toronto likes to think of itself as hip and is proud of natives like Drake promoting the 6, Rosedale still has a whiff of the Toronto-the-Good era, the so-called blue-light Toronto when nothing opened on Sundays, temperance movements tried to suppress the evils of alcohol, and good citizens meant good Protestants attending church on Sundays. Back then, non-WASPs had their own neighbourhoods, and Rosedale was a solidly white upper-class enclave. It’s more diverse today, but its still upper-class – the area is the wealthiest part of Toronto.

That wealth is visible in the homes, the cars, the land, and quiet streets. It’s also visible in the shops along Yonge, between Rosedale and Summerhill subway stations. There was a time when a strange face wandering through Rosedale would draw attention. Today, it’s less hide-bound, less class-ridden, and less uptight. But there’s a reason that one of the first LGBTQ bookstores in Toronto was called This Ain’t the Rosedale Library.

Food & Refreshment:

Food and refreshments on this walk are mostly around the start and finish – there are many cafes, coffee houses, restaurants, and food shops along Yonge near St. Clair, Rosedale, or Summerhill stations. In the heart of Rosedale, on Summerhill Avenue just over the train tracks, there is the Summerhill Market, Rosedale’s version of a corner store (and a fab gourmet stop on it’s own). All this gives many options to load up for a picnic, and Chorley Park is the perfect spot for that.

There are water fountains at Chorley and Rosedale Parks, available between about May-October, and there are public toilets at Rosedale Park as well. There are also public washrooms at St. Clair in the shopping mall at the north end of the station. Finally, there are washrooms, a great cafe, and water at the Brickworks if you divert from this walk (see below).

Diversions:

  1. An alternative route is to turn north once you cross Mount Pleasant Road on Crescent Road, onto Wrentham Place. Follow that north to Roxborough Street and turn left (west), then north on Chestnut Park. Wind through these little streets and find Cluny Drive, turn north, and find Rowanwood Ave. Follow that around to the east onto Thornwood and then north and around to Pricefield Road. Take Pricefield west all the way past the Pricefield Playground and into Scrivener Square by the old Summerhill train station that is now the Summerhill LCBO at Yonge Street. Turn right and walk under the train tracks to Summerhill Avenue to the Summerhill Station on Line 1. This diversion takes you through more quiet, charming back streets and lets you end by the gourmet shops at Scrivener Square.
  2. Another fun diversion is to cut through Chorley Park and join the connector trail that descends into the Moore Park Ravine – this will put you opposite the Don Valley Brickworks, and you can pop in there for a potty stop or food/water/coffee. The Chorley Park connector trail also puts you onto the Beltline Trail, and you can follow that south and around past the Brickworks. The Beltline continues north up through David Balfour Park, under St. Clair Avenue, and on into Mount Pleasant Cemetery to finish near Davisville Station on Line 1 subway. Or you can climb out of the trail just before you get to St. Clair, and walk back along that road to finish back at St. Clair Station.
  3. You can also take the Chorley Park connector, follow the Beltline around, and then take Milkman’s Lane to climb out of the Yellow Creek Ravine and into Rosedale. This will put you onto South Drive by Glen Road, where you can rejoin the main route described above.

Favourite Toronto Walks

After looking back, I realized that I’ve written a number of posts about favourite Toronto walks, and I wanted to collect them together in one place so that you could find them.

Favourite Toronto Walks -Martin Goodman Trail

Part of a series on my favourite walking trails in Toronto.

Hey Toronto, remember to practice Physical Distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic! As part of its COVID-19 strategy, the City of Toronto has closed the parks noted below. The Trail itself is open for walking, but the parks and their facilities are not.

And now on to the regular post …..

The Martin Goodman Trail winds along the shore of Lake Ontario, from the Humber River in the West, past Sunnyside Beach, Ontario Place, and Queen’s Quay, crosses the Don River and loops down around Cherry Beach, and then follows Lakeshore Road through Woodbine Park onto the Beaches Boardwalk to end at Balmy Beach. If you want summer, follow this path.

And if you’re not in summer, walk it anyway – the autumn colours, the spring flowers, and the natural ice sculptures of winter all offer sights to keep you interested.

And for people watching, this is Toronto hanging out in its backyard – the whole city makes an appearance at some point. It’s endlessly entertaining and changing to fit the seasons and your mood. Go walk it, and take the time to hang out and chill.

Length: roughly 18-19 km end to end, so 4-5 hours depending on stops. The Martin Goodman Trail is also part of the much longer Waterfront Trail, which within the City of Toronto itself runs from Mimico Creek in the west all the way to the Rouge River in the east. It’s around 50 km across the city, and I’ve walked that as part of my Crossing Toronto Big Walk.

Surface: paved the whole way, though you can walk on boardwalks too at Sunnyside and in the Beaches

Public Transit: to start (assuming you’re going west to east) take the subway Line 1 to either Queen Station or Osgoode Station. Catch the 501 Streetcar heading west to either the South Kingsway (east bank of the Humber River) or the Humber loop stop (west bank). From the streetcar, walk south to pick up the trail on the east side of the Humber Arch bridge At the finish, walk from Balmy Beach north up to Queen Street to catch the 501 Streetcar at Neville Park to head back west to Queen Station on subway Line 1.

Route: The Trail is strait-forward and well marked. It officially starts on the east side of the Humber River just past the Humber Arch Bridge, though there are also several km of waterfront trail on the west side of the river, between Mimico Creek and the Humber.

The Humber Arch Bridge

Strictly speaking, there are actually 2 parallel trails, one for bikes and one for walkers. On weekends especially, the bike trail can be busy with speeding spandex, so keep to the walking trail.

There are lots of park benches along the way, and in Sunnyside Park and in the Beaches, there are also lots of comfy Adirondack-style chairs. On a weekday morning, they’re heaven for resting tired feet.

The path follows the lake pretty closely with many little diversions through side gardens. There are a couple of street crossings to negotiate, near Bathurst Street, at Cherry Street, and near the Beaches. Otherwise you really can’t get lost – just head towards the CN Tower from the west end, and towards the Ashbridge’s Bay chimneys once you’re past the CN Tower.

Sights: There are lots of little joys along the trail. You might see a mother goose and her goslings trailing obediently. Or stop to take in the flowers and the visitors at one of the little butterfly gardens that dot the parks. Or there’s the site of planes taking off from Billy Bishop Airport on the islands (even more spectacular during the Toronto Airshow).

The view from the Humber Arch Bridge looking east

As you walk along the trail, there’s also many spots to take in the Toronto skyline. You may not realize it, but you are starting a bit south of the city when you are over by the Humber. As you walk towards Queens Quay, you’re walking north and east, and the many condo and office towers compete with the CN Tower and Rogers Center to dominate the view.

At Sunnyside Beach looking back west towards Mimico

Then as you move past all the shops along Queens Quay itself, and cross the Don River channel at the docklands to head to Cherry Beach, you enter a more relaxed area with sand and trees. It’s a great spot to stop for a picnic.

Cherry Beach
The trail heading east from Cherry Beach

Continuing on, the beach vibe takes over completely past Ashbridges Bay. The sand will tempt you in any weather, and in summer it’s our own version of Venice Beach. I once came across a movie shoot in progress, across the path from a step aerobics class, and alongside grandparents walking with grandkids slurping ice cream who were staring at muscle-shirted beach volleyball players.

The Beaches Boardwalk at Woodbine Beach
Balmy Beach on a not so balmy day …

Food & Refreshment: The Trail has several places for food and drinks, though most are open only during the Canadian summer – Victoria Day to Labour Day. Outside those months, the Trail has dozens of spots that are perfect for a picnic with may picnic tables, benches, chairs, shady spots under trees and sunny spots on sand.

The Sunnyside Pavilion Cafe is a lovely spot for coffee or something stronger.

There are many options around Queens Quay, especially on a summer weekend when there’s usually a festival or market of some kind.

And of course, when you get to the Beaches, a short walk north from the trail takes you to Queen Street with its many shops, restaurants, and bars, not to mention Beaches institutions like Ed’s Real Scoop Ice Cream.

There are a number of public toilets along the trail, at Sunnyside Park, at Queens Quay, Cherry Beach, Woodbine Beach, and Balmy Beach. These are only open between May – October, however. Outside those months, your best bets more or less on the trail are the shops at Queens Quay. Otherwise you’ll need to leave the trail and head towards the shops on one of the parallel shopping streets. Or just walk fast and drink lightly.

Diversions: Because the Trail runs though and nearby to many fun neighbourhoods, like Queens Quay, and especially the Beaches, there are many ways to change the route around.

  1. Shorten it and just walk from the Humber to Queen’s Quay, or from Queen’s Quay to the Beaches.
  2. West to east is fun for me because I like to end at the Beaches, but going east to west is also good. In that case, starting off with a great breakfast at a Beaches joint like the Sunset Grill sets you up to hike away.
  3. As mentioned, the walk changes character dramatically when you go off season. For a number of years, we liked to walk the Beaches Boardwalk on New Year’s Day, and often the wind off the lake is particularly icy. It’s still fun though, and when he was small our son liked to throw snowballs into the lake.

Favourite Toronto Walks – The Beltline

Part of a series on my favourite walking trails in Toronto.

Hey Toronto, remember to practice Physical Distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic!

And now on to the regular post …..

The Beltline is one of Toronto’s best known and favourite walking trails. There are actually two, connected Beltlines – the York Beltline which runs from just north of Eglinton near Caledonia Road over to the Allen Expressway, and the Kay Gardiner Beltline which runs from the Allen to the Don Valley Brickworks.

Length: about 15 km for the full length, approximately 3 hours

Surface: about 50/50 gravel and paved. The York Beltline is paved and the Gardiner Beltline is mostly gravel with some paved sections in Mount Pleasant Cemetery

Public Transit: To get to the start, take the Eglinton 32 bus west to Caledonia Road from either Eglinton or Eglinton West/Allen station on the Line 1 subway. From the finish, walk up Yonge from the north-west corner of Mount Pleasant Cemetery about 300 m to Davisville Station on the Line 1 subway.

Route: The start of the York Beltline is a few blocks north and west from the intersection of Caledonia Road and Eglinton, near the Canada Goose outwear factory. It follows a well-marked paved trail east roughly parallel to and just south of Castlefield Avenue. At Marlee Avenue, you have to leave the trail, walk north about 50 m to cross at the traffic lights, then follow Elmridge Drive over the Allen Expressway. Just after you cross the bridge over the expressway, turn right (south) onto a trail that runs parallel to the Allen, and just off that pick up the trail again, walking east on what is now the the Kay Gardiner Beltline Trail. Follow that east all the way to Mount Pleasant Cemetery, just past Yonge.

Just after you cross the bridge over Yonge, there is an entrance from the Trail into Mount Pleasant Cemetery. You can follow the marked Beltline path within the Cemetery, where the Beltline is marked by painted lines on the road. Alternatively, you can walk along the Beltline Trail outside the cemetery east to Mount Pleasant Road, where there is another entrance into the Cemetery that joins the marked path on the road.

Follow the Cemetery road markings east under Mount Pleasant and then south to exit the Cemetery on Moore Avenue, crossing that road to enter the Moore Ravine. Follow the trail downhill towards the Brickworks. You can divert or end here, if you’d like, or you can just make a quick pit stop and then keep going.

The Beltline Trail proper runs just to the west of the Brickworks and heads toward Bayview Avenue. There is an entrance to the Brickworks trail network at the northwest corner of the Brickworks property, and another entrance further south off the Trail, opposite the main buildings. Use either entrance to pit-stop here.

Leaving the Brickworks, walk past the parking lot on the southwest corner to pick up the trail as it bends around to the west parallel to Bayview Avenue. It then climbs up a little hill, then turns northwest and drops down into the Yellow Creek ravine.

Follow the trail north until you come to Mount Pleasant Road. Cross carefully! The traffic always seems to be doing 10-20 kph faster than the speed limit and there is no formal crosswalk. If you’re nervous, turn south when you come off the Trail at Mount Pleasant and walk about 100m to climb some stairs up to Crescent Road. This crosses Mount Pleasant on an overpass, and on the other side you can then descend back to Mount Pleasant and walk north to pick up the Trail again at the entrance to David Balfour Park.

Here the Trail keeps going north through the Yellow Creek ravine. The official trail climbs out of the ravine just south of St. Clair Avenue on Rosehill Avenue (on the northeast corner of the Rosehill Reservoir), but you can follow the rough unofficial trail under St. Clair along the west side of the creek. This takes you to a gated entrance back into Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Follow the road up out of the ravine and wind your way back to the northwest corner of the Cemetery. Leaving the Cemetery here takes you back to the Beltline Trail and completes the loop. Congrats, you’ve walked it!

From here, take the stairs down onto Yonge Street, then turn right and walk north a few hundred meters to Davisville Station, or else south and walk about 1 km to St. Clair Station.

Sights: I love walking the Trail at any time of the year. My favourite time is probably in the early autumn, just after the trees have started to turn colour, on one of those blue-sky, crisp days we get in October.

Summer is great as well, with wildflowers, shaded lanes, grasses, and laughing children along the way. And then a clear winter’s day can be gorgeous as well. And of course, spring is great when you’re itching to get out and the birds are singing everywhere.

Each season brings its own sights and sounds and smells. They’re all fantastic, and that’s probably what makes the Beltline the busiest Trail in the city. Mid-week is lighter traffic than weekends, but if you like people-watching than any holiday weekend with decent weather will bring out the crowds.



Food & Refreshment: On the Trail itself, there are several water fountains along the way: near Walter Saunders Park; at the entrance to Mount Pleasant Cemetery; and in Mount Pleasant just before you cross Moore Avenue. These are available from May to end of October.

Just off the Trail, there are several food options. There are pizza, fast food, and coffee options on Eglinton near Caledonia Road, at the start of the York Beltline. There are similar places near Davisville Station at the other end. There are also several coffee places on Castlefield, parallel to the York Beltline. Finally, there is the Saturday farmer’s market at the Brickworks, and the everyday option of Cafe Belong, also at the Brickworks.

Diversions: There are several ways to vary the walk, including:

  1. Walk it in reverse, from east to west
  2. Shorten it, by starting and ending at the northwest corner of Mount Pleasant cemetery and just walking the loop through the Cemetery, the Moore Ravine, and the Yellow Creek/David Balfour Park portions.
  3. Shorten it even more and just walk from the Cemetery to the Brickworks.
  4. Just outside the Brickworks, on the west side of the Trail, there is a linking trail up out of the ravine to Chorley Park in Rosedale. Climb that to get a fantastic view east over the ravine – spectacular in the autumn.
  5. Instead of following the Yellow Creek Trail to David Balfour Park, take Milkman’s Lane up out of the ravine into Rosedale, and then wander through there over to Yonge. Depending on your route, you’ll probably end up near either Rosedale or Summerhill Station.
  6. Incorporate portions of the Trail into other walks, such as what I call the Midtown Cemetery Walk.

The Trail is a great way to explore Mid-Town, get some exercise, and explore Toronto history. Enjoy!

Favourite Toronto Walks – Tommy Thompson Trail

Part of a series on my favourite walking trails in Toronto.

Hey Toronto, remember to Practice Physical Distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic! That means that, unfortunately, Tommy Thompson Park is closed right now, until restrictions are lifted. Read on to dream about walks when we’re all released from our cages.

And on to the regular post …..

For the past 150 years, Toronto has been growing and building at a furious rate – the skyline has evolved with every decade, as new towers join and dwarf older ones. In recent years, there have been more than 100 high rise buildings under construction at any one time.

All of that development, including the roads that connect it, has resulted in massive amounts of demolition and of excavation, which has created hundreds of thousands of tons of construction debris. It all has to go somewhere, and for 50+ years that somewhere was Lake Ontario.

And thus, from debris was a park born. Today, through a lot of effort from a lot of people and groups, especially the Toronto Regional Conservation Authority, the Leslie Street Spit has become Tommy Thompson Park, and the Trail within the park has become one of the most popular in the city. While many bike out to the tip of the park, I like to walk it in a loop. It’s a great way to escape the city – it can be so quiet that, on a winter’s day, you can hear the ice groaning along the water’s edge. And yet, only a couple of km away, that ever-changing Toronto skyline is in full view – the park is one of the best places for taking selfies of the city. And it’s also one of the best places to view wildlife in Toronto, home to many species of birds and waterfowl, as well as squirrels, raccoons, coyotes, beaver, and more. It’s a favourite year-round, and a must for any visitor to Toronto.

Length: about 12 km if you do the full loop around the tip

Surface: gravel and pavement, about 50% each though you can use the paved road the whole way if you’d like

Public Transit: take the #83 Jones bus south to Commissioners Road, either from Donlands station on Subway Line 2 or from the 501 Queen East streetcar.

Route: Starting from the parking lot at #1 Leslie Street, follow the trail signs into the park. The walking trail proceeds south and west from the car park just to the south (left-hand) side of roadway. If the trail is too muddy, you can just walk the road. Follow the trail/road about 1 km into the park, until you come to a gate on the south side (left-hand) side. Turn left and follow the trail/road along the south side of the ponds. Where the road turns right (north), on the lake side of the road, there is a gravel/dirt path. Follow that along the shore to the tip of the point, by the lighthouse. Loop around the lighthouse and follow the trail back to the roadway. Follow the roadway straight east all the way back to the the car park, where you started.

Sights: For me, there are several key sights along the way. First and foremost, there’s that stunning view of the Toronto skyline.

Then of course there is the wildlife, especially waterfowl. In spring and autumn, there are many migratory species coming through – I’ve seen clouds of raptors like hawks, eagles, and vultures, as well as swans, geese, ducks, gulls, and many other species.

I’ve also seen a lot of evidence of coyotes, though I’ve never actually seen one in the park. Similarly, there are often trees downed by beavers, though again the actual animals keep hidden during the day. Both of these species are nocturnal, so one of these days I’m planning to visit late in the evening, just at sundown, to catch some of the night critters.

In summer, there are also many species of butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, beetles, and other insects, plus snakes, turtles, toads, frogs, and fish in the ponds. You can spend hours just exploring the ponds and observing in the smaller creatures.

As well as the city and the wildlife, there’s also the lake itself. In any season, sitting by the water and listening to the lap of the waves is deeply relaxing. I’m sure it’s also pretty dramatic during a storm, though also pretty exposed.

And finally, there’s an interesting free-form artistic side to the park. Over the years, many people have built sculptures out of the construction debris – wires, bricks, concrete and rebar are combined with driftwood to create some fantastic pieces.

Food & Refreshment: This is a bring your own picnic spot, because there no restaurants or refreshments in the park. At the intersection of Leslie and Lakeshore, just outside the park, there are several coffee shops as well as a grocery store, so you can pick up snacks there. Bring lots of water, especially in the summer, because there are no fountains anywhere. There are also few washrooms – just a couple of portapotties along the way.

Diversions: I’ve drawn the full loop trail on the map, but you can also make a shorter walk by cutting across the park about a third of the way along.

You can also just go straight along the north road to the tip, and back the same way – it’s a bit more sheltered/shaded if the weather is blustery or sunny, and it’s a bit shorter that way as well.

One other alternative is to start at Cherry Beach

and follow the Waterfront Trail to the entrance to Tommy Thompson Park – that adds about 1.5 km, and is a nice walk in its own right.

Finally, the TRCA hosts various events in the park, so check out the park website to see what’s happening.

Walks Past – Gaff Point Trail, Nova Scotia

Hey Toronto, remember to Practice Physical Distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic!

And now on to the regular post …..

Every few years, our family packs up the car and heads east to Nova Scotia. We’ve come to love the South Shore, basing ourselves around Mahone Bay or Lunenburg for a few weeks in late summer to soak up sun, swim, gorge on seafood, and soak into the village feel. It feels like a second home for us, and we can’t wait to get there as often as we can.

On our first family trip there, in 2008, we were chatting with some locals who told us about a great beach called Hirtles. It’s a badly-kept secret at this point, but we can always get away from the crowds by walking the nearby Gaff Point Trail.

We’ve done this walk many times now, and it’s become a ritual on every visit. To get to the Trail, you have to drive to Hirtles, about 20km outside of Lunenburg. From the parking lot, you follow the boardwalk over the dunes to the beach, and then turn right to walk south along the beach for about 2 km to get to Gaff Point itself.

When you get to Gaff Point itself, there’s a well marked trail that loops around the point and returns you to the beach. It’s only about 3 km long, but it winds through little meadows, moss-treed forest, and rocky shore, packing a little taste of Nova Scotia geography into its short length.

One of our favourite parts of the walk is actually after we’re done the trail at itself. By then we’re always a bit hot and tired, so it’s wonderfully soothing to wandering back towards the car park, trailing tired feet in the water, and then rewarding ourselves with a swim at the end. That’s easier if the tide is out, because there are some rocky stretches of the beach that are tough. I’ve walked it in sandals a few times and now usually wear hiking boots, which I carry for the last km as I splash in the water.

We have so many memories of the walk. One year when our son was about 6, we noticed that someone had made little inukshuks from the rocks along the shore,

Another year, someone had put a solitary lawn chair up on a small cliff overlooking the water, to sit and contemplate the vastness of nature.

We often take a picnic lunch with us, to enjoy sitting on the rocks in the sun. One year it included a thermos of homemade seafood chowder that I’d made the night before,

and enjoyed it sitting on the rocks listening to the jug and gurgle of the water.

Later this year, we’re planning to return to Nova Scotia in September, this time to drop off our now 18-year old son at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

Afterwards we’ll spend a few weeks in old favourite haunts on the South Shore, and I am sure we’ll make time for Gaff Point, to say hello to an old friend as we enter our new chapter as empty-nesters. The sea is always there.

Favourite Toronto Walks – Cedarvale-Nordheimer Ravines

Part of a series on my favourite walking trails in Toronto.

Back in the 1950’s and 1960’s, Toronto was growing and like many North American cities at that time, was investing in transportation infrastructure, and in particular in roads, which led to a plan to create the Spadina Expressway. Thankfully, that wasn’t fully built (other than a short section now known as the Allen Expressway), and instead we have the park and ravine trail system that I think of as Cedarvale. It’s a great walk, and I like to extend it a bit and include Ramsden Park as well so that I end on Yonge.

Length: about 5.5 km, around 1.5 hours

Surface: about 50/50 paved and gravel

Public Transit: To start, take Subway Line 1 to Eglinton West-Allen Station and walk south a few hundred meters to the entrance to Cedarvale Park. Finish and the exit from Ramsden Park at Yonge street, opposite Subway Line 1 Rosedale Station.

Route: From the entrance to Cedarvale Park, off Ava Road, walk south following the paved trail. Continue past the Off Leash Dog Walk area and down into Cedarvale Ravine. Follow the gravel trail through the Ravine and exit at Heath Street. Cross the street and cut through the St. Michael’s College grounds past the Loblaws grocery store to St. Clair Avenue. Cross the street and enter Nordheimer Ravine. Follow the gravel trail down through the ravine to exit at Poplar Plains Road. Cross the road, follow Poplar Plains Crescent to Rathnelly Avenue, then turn south and follow it to MacPherson Avenue. Turn east and walk to Avenue Road, then turn south, crossing Avenue at the traffic lights at Dupont, then keep going south on Avenue to Pears Avenue. Turn east and enter Ramsden Park. Follow the paved trail through the park to finish at the park exit at Yonge Street.

Sights: I love this walk any time of the year. In summer, you might be able to watch a bit of cricket at the pitch in Cedarvale Park, or perhaps some baseball in Ramsden. There are often lots of other walkers, joggers, and strollers of all ages, so people watching is fun too. And there are some wild stretches along the ravine trails where marshy ground combines with bushes and trees to create wetland ecosystems full of wildlife in the heart of the city.

Nordheimer Ravine from the Spadina Bridge

It’s also fun to take your time and stroll on this route, because the many park benches provide opportunities to chill out in the shade or bask in the sun and just sit, soaking up the birds and crickets. It’s usually pretty quiet, especially Monday-Friday, so there’s often times when there’s no one in sight as you’re walking the trail.

Finally, there’s history here as well. For example, cutting through the Rathnelly neighbourhood takes you what is known as The Republic of Rathnelly. It got its name in 1967, when a group of residents decided to form an independent republic, as a bit of joke that turned into a semi-serious movement that was instrumental in fighting the Spadina Expressway.

Between late autumn and early spring, the ravines can be pretty muddy, slushy, or icy, and that just adds to the fun. I’ve done this route in all seasons and the changing scenery keeps it interesting.

Food & Refreshment: On Eglinton near the start, there are several restaurants and coffee shops where you can grab a bite before you start. At the finish on Yonge, there are several places as well, so it’s easy to eat and then walk, or walk and then eat. I’ve also stopped at the Loblaws on St. Clair and grabbed a sandwich. Plus, there are several water fountains in the parks, though they are turned off between November – April.

There are public washrooms at the community arena in Cedarvale Park, and in Ramsden Park. You can also use the washroom at the Loblaws.

Diversions: If you’re feeling in the mood for a longer walk, you can keep going past Ramsden Park, crossing Yonge and entering the Rosedale Valley behind Rosedale Station. Follow Rosedale Valley Road down to Bayview Avenue and cross to join the Lower Don Trail. You can then turn north and follow that trail up to the Evergreen Brickworks. If you are feeling especially frisky, you can keep following the Beltline Trail from the Brickworks up through Moore Ravine, through Mount Pleasant Cemetery, and finish at Yonge near Davisville Station.

I’ve also done all this in reverse, starting at Mount Pleasant Cemetery and following the Beltline to the Brickworks, then going up Rosedale Valley Road to Ramsden, and on continuing up through the ravines to end back at Eglinton. It’s mostly uphill in that direction so it’s a tougher walk.

Finally, since I live close to Yonge & Eg, you can start there at Eglinton Station, and either walk along Eg to Cedarvale, or better yet, go south to Davisville to pick up the Kay Gardiner Beltline Trail and follow that all the way to the Allen, where it ends. Then just cut south a few blocks through the back streets and you end up next to Eg West station, where you can start the route described above. Doing it that way adds another 45 minutes or so to the route.

Favourite Toronto Walks – Mid-town Cemeteries

Part of a series on my favourite walking trails in Toronto.

Toronto, as you probably know, is blessed by geography in the form of the many ravines that cross the city. Over the years, some of these have been woven into the fabric of Toronto as cemeteries.

As I’ve mentioned before, there is something very calming about walking through graveyards. Since Mount Hope, Mount Pleasant, and Prospect cemeteries are all within a few km of my home in mid-town, I’ve worked out a walking route that takes these in and ties them together with some interesting neighbourhoods and paths. The route is lovely any time of the year, but if I had to pick early autumn is my favourite, when the trees are just turning colour.

Length: about 16-17 km, probably between 3.5 and 4.5 hours duration depending on your pace and exact route meandering through the cemeteries

Surface: about 80% paved; only the Kay Gardiner Beltline is gravel

Public Transit: take Subway Line 1 to Eglinton Station to the start; take the eastbound 512 St. Clair Streetcar at the exit of Prospect Cemetery, to get back to the Subway Line 1 at St. Clair Station

Route: Starting at Eglinton Station, walk north on Yonge Street to Erskine Avenue. Go east on Erskine to Mount Hope Cemetery entrance. Walk through cemetery (I like to bear left – to the north – and walk next to the Blythwood ravine) to the exit gate on Bayview Avenue.

Turn right and go south on Bayview to entrance to Mount Pleasant cemetery (about 2 km). Walk through Mount Pleasant (lots of options for meandering) and pick up the Beltline path markers at the west end of the eastern section of the cemetery. Follow the Beltline markers through the underpass beneath Mount Pleasant Road, and then more meandering options through the cemetery to get to the exit at the north-west corner of the cemetery.

Join the Kay Gardiner Beltline and head west all the way to its end at the Allen Expressway. Turn right and go north slightly, to Elmridge Drive and cross the Allen, continuing across Marlee Avenue. On the south-west corner of Marlee and Roselawn (note Elmridge turns into Roselawn when it crosses Marlee), turn left and go south a few meters to the start of the York Beltline trail. Follow this west all the way to the finish at Bowie Avenue.

Exit the trail and walk east along Bowie to Caledonia Road, then south on Caledonia to Eglinton. Go east a couple of blocks to the northern entrance to Prospect Cemetery.

Meander south through Prospect Cemetery to the south entrance on St. Clair. Turn left (east) and cross the street to catch the streetcar back to Line 1 St. Clair station.

Sights: The best part about this route is the variety of sights and sounds, terrain and trails. There’s the calm orderliness of rows of headstones; the subtle geometry of hills and grassland and trees and gardens; the colours in any season; the scents of new cut grass and flowers, and the food smells amongst the shops along Bayview; the sounds of kids playing, dogs barking, birds singing; the crunch of gravel underfoot.

In themselves, these cemeteries are fascinating time-capsules. The history of Toronto is written in the names on the headstones, and you can piece together the waves of immigration by the names and dates. There are the graves of the famous (former Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King in Mount Pleasant cemetery) and the humble (the graves of the several different orders of nuns in Mount Hope cemetery).

Tying them together are the trails and streets of mid-Toronto. The Kay Gardiner Beltline Trail and the York Beltline Trail follow the route of the Beltline Railway, which carried goods from mid-town to the terminal stations further south. Bayview is a major road and is the main street of Leaside, one of Toronto’s early planned neighbourhoods that dates back to the 1920s. And of course starting on Yonge and ending on St. Clair puts you into some of the most vibrant areas of Toronto.

Food & Refreshment: There are lots of options at the start and end of the route. I suggest fuelling up with a good breakfast or early lunch in the Yonge and Eg area, where there are many options, ranging from organic juice bars to old school diners to grocery stores. At the finish on St. Clair, a short walk east from Prospect Cemetery takes you into the Corso Italia, where you can reward yourself with a gelato, an espresso, or a beer.

Along the way, the stretch along Bayview between Soudan Avenue and Davisville Avenue is packed with shops, restaurants, coffee stops, and bars, so there’s lots to choose from. The Beltline trails don’t have anything directly on them, but you can duck out at say Oriole Park, or near Castlefield Road, where there are a few coffee shops.

Toilet facilities can be a challenge between November and April. In warm months, there are public washrooms in some of the parks along the way, but these close in the cold months. There is one year-round toilet in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, near the office in the middle, but otherwise you’ll have to leave the route to hit a coffee shop.

Diversions: There are several ways to add some variety to the route.

  1. Walk it in reverse – it’s uphill this way, and it’s fun to end at Yonge & Eg and the shops/bars/restaurants.
  2. Split it up – a good mid-way point is to bail out as you leave Mount Pleasant Cemetery, near Oriole Park. That puts you at Davisville Station on Line 1, an easy way to jump back on.
  3. Exit Mount Pleasant Cemetery through the main entrance in the south-west corner and walk down Yonge to St. Clair. This way you skip the Beltline and instead walk along St. Clair to Prospect Cemetery, passing through the Wychwood, Hillcrest, and Corso Italia neighbourhoods with their shops, restaurants and bars . This lets you finish on Eg, and you can take the bus back to Eglinton Station on Line 1. In winter this can be a better route, especially if it’s muddy on the Beltline.
  4. There are several other cemeteries in mid-town that you can incorporate into the route. There is St. Michael’s Cemetery, tucked behind a gate off Yonge just south of St. Clair. There are also the series of small Hebrew cemeteries along Roselawn Avenue between Avenue Road and Bathurst, just north of the Beltline Trail. Each of these are interesting in their own way, expanding on the story of Toronto as they illustrate the waves of immigration that have made up the city over the past 150 years.