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Saturday, August 30, 2014

The top 10 places to take a walk in Toronto

walk torontoThere's not shortage of scenic places to walk in Toronto, a city that prides itself on over 1,600 some odd parks and green spaces. But not all parks are made for walking, and not all ravines will let you escape without hiking. There is, of course, a difference between a leisurely and contemplative stroll and trudging up and down off-camber ravine walls. No, the ideal walk is something that allows you to forget your body altogether in favour of some state in which you're consumed by the scenery at the expense of stresses of all kinds. We stroll to lose ourselves in the very hopes that we might find ourselves along the way.

Here are 10 places to walk in Toronto that'll help calm your mind.

Lakefront promenade at Marilyn Bell Park

There's no skyline view from the promenade at Marilyn Bell, but it's about as close to the lake as you can get, and on a clear day you can easily see the escarpment across the lake. This is a quiet place with plenty of benches to enjoy a little pause. I'm particularly fond of this stretch at night, when the blackness of the lake seems to envelope you until you look west and see the condo corridor by the Humber River.

Cherry Beach

Yes, I could have put almost any beach on this list, but Cherry Beach seems to be the choice of walkers, if only for its cool waters and ample park space just north of the sandy area,. Stroll around as kite surfers struggle to catch wind. If you walk far enough west, you can catch a glimpse of the skyline.

Edwards Gardens

One of the prettiest places in Toronto, if busy on summer weekends, Edwards Gardens has plenty of meandering paths and trails through immaculately tended grounds. Look for wildflowers, rhododendrons and roses amongst the various flora, and be sure to pause contemplatively on one of the many wood bridges that cross the various tributaries of the Don River.

The boardwalk at the Eastern Beaches

There are boardwalks at both the eastern and western beaches in Toronto, but the east side takes the win for its people watching (Kew and Woodbine beaches are typically busier than Sunnyside) and more ocean-like atmosphere (if you've been to both, this will make sense). I can think a few places better to stroll at dusk in Toronto than here.

Moore Park Ravine

The trail that runs southeast alongside Mud Creek is downhill all the way to the Brick Works (and vice versa) with a tree canopy that will make you think that you've left the city altogether. While you'll have to share the path with cyclists, it's never actually busy, and it's wide enough to easily accommodate all. This place is absolutely stunning in autumn when the trees have started to turn.

Scarborough Bluffs Park

The trails aren't really challenging enough to characterize as a hike, so if it's elevated lake vistas you're after, head to the bluffs. It's remarkable just how tropical the scene can seem in mid-summer (ok, maybe not this summer, but still). Look out at the water and imagine that the deposits from these very bluffs formed what is now the Toronto Islands.

High Park

High Park is an obvious choice, but impossible to leave off this list. High Parks rolling hills offer many ravine walks, ponds, and, of course, the Cherry Blossoms in spring. There are trails all over the park and lots of paved paths if you prefer not to venture too far off the beaten track. Don't forget to visit the zoo.

G. Ross Lord Park

Uptowners looking for a serene escape can hit this park, which features kilometres of weaving trails, alongside sports fields, picnic areas, and an off-leash dog park. None of the trails are overly challenging to walk, but the scenery is such that you'll feel much further north of the city's core than you really are.

Mount Pleasant Cemetery

This is one of my favourite places to walk in Toronto. Not everyone will embrace harolding, but as far as quiet and contemplative spots go, there's little that matches this century old burial ground. Rather than think of the tombstones as a downer, it's more rewarding to read them and think about the lives lived and the profound contribution to the city made by those interred here.

Broadview Avenue

What would this list be without one skyline walk? Broadview Avenue gets my nomination for its sweeping views of the city and Riverdale Park below. Rotate your neck across the scene and take in the perfect juxtaposition of the Don Valley and the Financial District. This is surely one of the best views of the city there is.

Photo by carlosbezz in the blogTO Flickr pool.

by Derek Flack via blogTO

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