Get outdoors and get active with these nature-filled adventures.
The Evergreen Brick Works trails are an incredible way to escape the city without actually leaving it; the area is a stone’s throw from the bustling Bloor Street East and the Don Valley Parkway.
The leafy ravine paths of the Don Valley—which stretch around 12 km (7.5 miles) from Taylor Creek Park to Lake Shore Boulevard—hold a special significance for me. Around a decade ago, I began life as a runner on the trails of the Don Valley, just as I was becoming more intensely focused on getting active. It helped me mature in time for fatherhood.
At the heart of the Don River Valley Park trail network sits the Evergreen Brick Works, an antidote to urban hustle and bustle. Evergreen is a charity that undertakes urban revitalization projects; it transformed this abandoned brick factory into a park and community hub and first welcomed the public in 2010.
When I first started using the Brick Works trails, my wife was pregnant. Now, my entire family—my wife, nine-year-old daughter and my seven-year-old son—come here for guided walking tours, hikes and skating in winter.
Nature—in particular, becoming active at the Evergreen Brick Works—has expanded the possibilities of Toronto for me and my family. After learning to run on its pathways, I wrote a book about the experience and became general manager of a running magazine. I even led a group of new runners through Brick Works pathways from my home downtown. It’s where my kids learned to skate and hike and appreciate nature, and where my family seeks refuge all year long. Someday I’ll take my grandkids to the Evergreen Brick Works to do the same.
Here are three ways we would all, as a family, recommend getting active here.
Both of my children learned to skate independently on the Brick Works rink, an open-air path of ice encircled by artwork that’s influenced by the larger nature that surrounds us. The rink has a European feel to me, and skating here is almost a sacred family tradition. Sometimes the kids do play dates at the Brick Works, but the ice-skating sojourns are something we reserve just for us.
On two wheels
Toronto institution Sweet Pete’s isn’t just a friendly bike shop (we bought all four of our bikes at the Bloor Street location), it also leads “fat bike adventures” through the ravine system, starting from its outpost at the Brick Works. I learned about Sweet Pete’s guided bike tours thanks to a birthday party my daughter attended. The idea of taking a guided tour on a bicycle blew the kids’ minds. (The parents were glad that their children would be occupied for at least a few hours.)
Another way to explore the ravines from the Brick Works is via the guided walking tours, which come in two forms: either take the self-guided version and follow the signs, or accompany a talented, personable guide. Since the area is so vast and it’s nearly impossible to take in everything on one trip, the guided option works great because a pro knows how to pack in the most interesting aspects in the shortest period of time. It’s like exploring nature with a friend.
Needless to say, I’d recommend an active visit to the Brick Works for anyone. Maybe especially people who need a change of scenery. I can’t promise you some big personal transformation. But I guarantee you’ll come out of it refreshed.
Getting to Evergreen Brick Works:
- Take the Line 1 Yonge-University subway to Davisville station, then take the 28 bus southbound.