April 13th, 2016
Today, I looked at the weather report for the coming week and I am cautiously optimistic that I can say, “Spring, is that you?” No strangers to cold weather in Canada, I’m pretty sure we can all agree that it is mid-April, and after the mild winter we’ve had we are SO not ready for it to be Winter in Spring. So, cautiously optimistic as I am, I’ve decided to take my renewed gym-time outdoors. Now, the only problem with running outside in Toronto is that you’re constantly having to dodge pedestrians, wait at stop lights, and frantically wave away the smell and smoke that comes spluttering out of an idling car (a moment here to shout a big “What the heck?!” at people who just sit in their cars and idle, seriously, have they not seen the news about climate change?).
Alas, as much as we inwardly groan about the car exhaust and people, there’s just no getting away from it in the city. Or is there? To those new to Toronto, or to those who grew up in Toronto but haven’t had the chance to explore it in-depth, there are a surprising amount of nature trails and parks that are ideal for bringing the exercises outdoors. Whether you’re a runner, biker, hiker, walker, or simply looking for a place to escape the concrete jungle for a little while, here are some great spots to ditch the sidewalks and spot the flora & fauna this Spring (fingers crossed):
- Top 5 Running Trails
- Hiking and Walking Clubs in Toronto – don’t fancy walking alone? There are clubs for all sorts of nature-lovers here; they go everywhere from urban parks, to the Bruce Peninsula Trail. There’s even a wonderful Out and Out Toronto club for members of the LGBTQ community.
- Toronto Cycling Paths – this map shows some great spots to bike in and around downtown Toronto; from cycling past Casa Loma along Davenport, to the Waterfront Trail, it has a little something for everybody. Printed maps are also available at civic centres, libraries, and specialty bike shops.
- The Outdoor Club – this club is awesome! It has weekly scheduled hikes in and around Toronto (the length of the hike/walk is given for each event, so you can choose whether you’re feeling low key or daring), and the club also hosts events like camping, canoe trips, and Sunday football.
- High Park Toronto – not only does High Park have a beautiful lake and tons of trails, but it’s also the start of their cherry blossom season. April 14th marks the change in temperatures, which means blossoms will (hopefully) start to bloom in late April, or early May.
- Toronto Islands – if you really, really need to step away from the city, then taking the ferry out to the islands for a day or jogging, picnicking, or tandem biking might be just the thing you need. It’s a little too chilly to add swimming to the outdoor exercise list just yet, but you can always scope out the area before the summer crowds hit.
Over the next few weeks and months, I’m going to be checking out some of these wonderful paths and clubs because, sometimes, the high rise buildings blocking out the sun, the car idling in bike paths, and the construction that you have to jog around just gets to be too much. If you’re looking to recharge, reconnect, and destress, why not check out some of these spots with me? You don’t need to be tackling your physical fitness to enjoy the beauty of nature; sometimes, the best thing we can do to help our mental and emotional fitness is also to get lost (metaphorically speaking) down a tree-studded trail. Happy Spring, and happy exploring.
*Don’t forget that U of T also has a great outdoor club that you can join too: http://www.utoc.ca/ *