I run to breathe the fresh air. I run to explore. I run to escape the ordinary. I run…to savor the trip along the way.
― Dean Karnazes
Don River Trail
Following the course of the Don River through the city, the Don River Trail is a popular route with runners and cyclists. The trail is asphalt and is, therefore, a good run when you’re first starting out or recovering from injury because the likelihood of twisted ankles is lessened. There are beautiful sites along the entire 13.8-kilometre trail including the Bloor St. Viaduct, all to the trickling soundtrack of the stream.
With over 10 kilometres of trails across the woodland, Crothers Woods is a peaceful natural space in which to go running in Toronto. Much of the woodland has remained largely unchanged for over 100 years, giving the whole place a truly wild feel, which allows you to feel like you’re running through a natural landscape.
Taylor Creek Trail
Shorter than the first two trails on this list, the Taylor Creek Trail is approximately 3.5 kilometres long and follows a single fork on the Don River. Flanked on both sides by mature woodland, the surface of the trail is a mix of compacted soil and asphalt, a good little run for any pre-work runners, whether you are tying up their laces for the first time or getting back to pounding the pavement.
Tommy Thompson Park
The park’s tagline, ‘Toronto’s Urban Wilderness,’ is extremely apt, with the lake breeze to keep you cool, and with over 23 kilometres of trails, it is a runner’s haven. There are three primary trails, all of which interlock with one another, meaning that you never have to do the same run twice. The only thing that remains the same is having a view of the lake the whole way round.
Martin Goodman Trail
The Martin Goodman Trail actually passes the entrance into Tommy Thompson Park and offers the same cool lake breeze that any summer runner knows is an absolute essential. In full, the trail stretches 56 kilometres east to west, from the Humber Bay Arch Bridge to the Rouge River. Covering a full 14 kilometres longer than a marathon, it is much more realistic just to tackle the popular area of the trail in the beaches, which is a more manageable five kilometres.
With its ample green space, zoo and dog park, High Park is one of Toronto’s hot spots for its residents. A full loop of the park is approximately five kilometres and allows you to take in views of the gardens and even a few waterfalls. Not the quietest running spot on the list, but its popularity isn’t without reason.
Another park, Sunnybrook has a slightly less tamed feel than High Park. With a nearly 6.5-kilometre trail running from one end to the other, there is ample space for any runner to really stretch out their legs. The only thing to be a little cautious of is a little traffic coming from the stables that are situated in the heart of the park.
Cedarvale Ravine and the Beltline Trail
With both asphalt and a gravel surface across the seven-kilometre run, the Cedarvale Ravine and Beltline Trail isn’t the simplest of runs. However, those who do take it up are rewarded with an opportunity to run through both a quiet green spot in the city as well as following some of Toronto’s history with the Beltline Railway Trail dating back to 1891.
Rosedale Ravine Trail
With the wildest running track consisting of compacted soil and grass, it is amazing that the Rosedale Ravine Trail actually starts in the very heart of the city at the corner of Yonge and St. Clair. Once you’ve entered the trail, however, you will feel a long way away from the centre of a major city. The trail forms a clear u-shape and is eight kilometres of off-road running bliss and city escapism.
Although this is a list of trails and clearly defined runs, it is clear that there are times when you just want to put on your running shoes and just get out there. With a little trip on the ferry, Toronto Island is the perfect place to just let the lake air lift your spirits, fill your lungs and guide you from one side of the island to the other.