Hiking with your kids is the perfect way to get them active and connected to nature at a young age. In the Toronto area, we have a plethora of options when it comes to parks and trails, many of which are perfect for the entire family.
Here is a list of some my favorites you can enjoy whether on balmy summer days or bundling up during the winter.
Right in the heart of the city, High Park offers you the opportunity to explore nature for the entire family. They are plenty of natural wonders to discover from savannahs, to woodlands, and wetlands. Don't know where you to start? No problem, just visit the Nature Centre and drop-in for one of their guided walks led by their nature interpreters and volunteers.
This 6 kilometer loop trail in Moore Park Ravine is considered one of the town's most scenic nature walks. As you explore the park, don't miss out witnessing the many different species of tress including oaks, maps and beech. When the heat waves hit in the summer, there is no better place to cool out than than the ravine.
Pro Tip: Keep an eye out for the "cave of dreams" - which is secret and spooky tree in the middle of the woods.
Located right on the natural border of Mississauga and Toronto, this trail twists and turn along the Etobicoke Creek. The trail is nice and paved making it ideal for families and dog walkers. There are even a few playgrounds for your kids to enjoy along the way. If you are planning to go on Saturday, keep in mind parking may be a challenge but there is lots of street parking a little ways away from the park.
Meandering along the Don River, the Betty Sutherland Trail allows you to explore the underbelly of Toronto as you past underneath the highway, and cruise by abandoned buildings with interesting art and graffiti. Don't let that scare you away as there have been plenty of landscape naturalization efforts to help beautify this trail including the planting of native trees, shrubs and wildflowers.
There is plenty of beautiful flora and fauna to be seen on this 2km trail located in the Warden Woods Park. The trail primarily runs along the ravine that crosses through the woods. The best time to visit is the fall when leaves are gorgeous bright shades of harvest colours. Dogs are also welcome on this trail but be sure to keep them on leash.
Be sure to take in beauty of the meadows of wildflowers along this easily accessible trail. Plenty of wildlife you may come across as well including coyotes, deer, rabbits, and possum. If you are covering a lot of ground, consider bringing hiking poles with you.
Pro Tip: If you are visiting during the winter, you can park for free between the 3rd and 4th zoo parking lots by the conservation house.
Immerse yourself in the mature coniferous and deciduous forests that can be seen within the Wilket Creek Park. At 3.7 kilometres out and back, this trail can easily be done with the family within a couple hours. Consider making your way from South to North as the parking at the south end of the trailhead is free. Furry friends are also welcome on this trail.
Start off by parking at the Loblaws which is conveniently close to trail entrance. Despite being so close to the city, you get a sense being away as the trail is mostly covered throughout. If you are lucky, you may see the occasional white-tailed deer on this trek. This is a shared used trail so be sure to watch for mountain bikers on route.
Just a ferry ride away from downtown Toronto, the Toronto Islands trail network is a great way to discover the islands with your family. With over 14 kilometres of trail systems, there is plenty area to cover. The islands can get fairly busy in the summer so if you are looking a bit more peace and quiet, make your way to the east side where you can explore Ward's Island which is a residential part of the island. Many consider it to be one of Toronto's most unique neighbourhoods.
Looking for more of mini getaway with the family for your excursion? Consider taking a roadtrip out to Split Rock Narrows in Shelburne, approximately 1 hour 15 minutes away from downtown Toronto. Split Rock is known for its massive crevice which was created by the known effect of cambering. Cambering is a process that widens cracks into crevices through the action of freezing and thawing. Be sure to take a deeper look at the walls of crevices as there are fossils that can be found within them that are over 420 million years old!
In conclusion, you don't have to go far to get out and explore nature with your family within the Toronto area. These 10 hikes are great anytime of year so what are you waiting for, get outside, get active and out into the wild with your wee one!
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