Need to recharge? Now is the perfect time to step out your back door and discover Ontario’s hidden gems in a city near you. Here are some of our favourite forests in urban centres across Southern Ontario. What are you waiting for? Get some comfortable shoes, grab a friend and hit the trails.
The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail stretches over 1600km along the Canadian shores of Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair and the Niagara, Detroit and St. Lawrence Rivers, and connects 86 communities and over 405 parks and natural areas including wetlands, forests and beaches. Created to protect, celebrate and reconnect people to our Great Lake waterfronts, the Trail has become a well-loved and used recreation, fitness and green transportation amenity and a world-renowned tourism attraction.
Enjoy the trail for a quick stroll or as part of a multi-day, long distance adventure:
CAA Bike Assist App featuring cycling maps & itineraries for the Waterfront Trail and other great routes.
Rouge Park is the largest natural environment park in an urban area in North America. Parks Canada is working towards making it Canada’s first national urban park. A bountiful, ecological wonder, Rouge National Urban Park will cover 79.1 km2 touching the cities of Toronto, Markham and Pickering and the township of Uxbridge. Photo courtesy of Suzanne Boyd.
Welcome areas are open spring to fall and have staff available to help you plan your in-park activities:
Meadowvale Welcome Area (1749 Meadowvale Road / at Zoo Road, Toronto, M1B 5W8);
North Welcome Area (10725 Reesor Road, Markham, L6B 1A8).
Check out these areas of the park and plan your next hiking excursion:
Looking for something spectacular? Hamilton is home to over 100 waterfalls along the Bruce Trail and the Niagara Escarpment – the most waterfalls for an urban area of its size. Tourism Hamilton and Hamilton Conservation Authority provide excellent resources to help you plan your adventure today – self-guided waterfall hiking trails, cycling and hiking trails, waterfall walk packages and maps to the waterfalls. More information on how to safely enjoy the waterfalls is available on the Cascades and Waterfalls of Hamilton website. These hidden urban gems are waiting for you.
Mississauga has some exciting trails for urban hiking. The David J. Culham Trail and Riverwood has two sections – Dundas Street to Mississauga Road (Streetsville) and Church Street to Velebit Court. The pathway is 11.2 kms in length with lots to see and explore.
DiscoverMississauga – the official visitor’s guide to the outdoors – provides a list of trails and parks that will get you out and about in Mississauga.
Brampton – the Flower City – offers three trail systems for you to explore. Trails are for hiking as well as cycling and take you through the city’s parks and wooded areas. The City of Brampton’s Trail Map will help you figure out your path to activity. Some of the trails you will find include the Etobicoke Creek Trail, Chinguacousy Trail and Don Doan Trail.
For more information, Brampton's Green and Fall Self-Guided Tour will get you moving.
Mono Cliffs Provincial Park is located on the Niagara Escarpment near Orangeville. It is a 750-hectare park that runs along a 6-km section of the Bruce Trail. There are seven trails to experience with remarkable scenery – canyons, cliffs, limestone plains and diverse vegetation for you to explore.
Check out the park map and plan your day at Mono Cliffs. Photo courtesy of Julia Murray.
London – known as the Forest City – is rich in Environmentally Significant Areas (ESAs) in 21 locations throughout the city including wetlands, forests, meadows, river corridors and valleylands. Below are links to brochures on a few of the ESAs managed by the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority.
Expect nothing but amazing hiking from the Forest City.
The K&P Trail in Kingston offers 15 km of outdoor fun all within the city limits. With six entry points to the trail, you can take advantage of this system from anywhere in the city. There is open landscape, farmland, rock cuts, and wetlands for you to explore.
For more information, check out the K&P Trail brochure.
There are so many hiking excursions just waiting for you. Most municipalities identify trails and path systems on their websites. Check out your local municipality for hiking opportunities in your neck of the woods. Or discover your next adventure by clicking on any of the following links:
Head out, take in the beauty of our great outdoors and stay active.
Check out our Athlete Advisor, your online athletic business directory. Find, rate and review programs, local community offerings and businesses that will help you do your thing.
Need a place to connect and coordinate with fellow hikers? Start a group. Explore events. Check out our SWSCD Hub.
Look for advice, stories, news and more on our Hiking activity page.
Tell us about your favourite urban forest, hiking trail or greatest hiking moment. Share your highlights directly on our Discover blog or by using #seewhatshecando on social media and inspire others to get active.
Written by Judy Coultes-MacLeod. Judy loves to share her view of the world from her keyboard – most often with a dose of tongue in cheek humour. When she is not using her mom spidey-sense to juggle the hockey, basketball, rugby, soccer and work schedules of a family of five, Judy may be at the gym in spin class, walking the pooch, playing hockey, or skiing.
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