Whether you’re up for a 5- or 15-kilometre run, you’ll pass by some of Toronto’s best beaches and attractions.
The most experienced, and most enthusiastic, Toronto runners will tell you that the Lake Ontario waterfront offers some of the best and most scenic running routes in Toronto.
Free of vehicle traffic, and largely free of traffic lights, these multi-use paths are friendly and flat, and they stretch from the Etobicoke Creek in the west to the Rouge River in the east. Many routes will include stretches of the Martin Goodman Trail, which runs 22 kilometres from the Humber Bridge to the Eastern Beaches.
You’ll share the Martin Goodman with cyclists, walkers and in-line skaters, and you’ll pass by some of Toronto’s most inviting beaches. To help you plot your path, we asked a few of Toronto’s expert runners to recommend some waterfront training routes.
Option 1: 4½ kilometres from Sugar Beach to Trillium Park
Charlotte Brookes serves as race director of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and she’s been involved in the Toronto running scene since she was eight years old. A marathon runner and cyclist, Brookes says her favourite stretch of the waterfront is at Trillium Park, which is located to the east and south of Ontario Place.
“It gives people an opportunity to get close to the water,” Brookes says of the stretch of the William G. Davis Trail, which connects to the Martin Goodman Trail and opened in the summer of 2017 behind Ontario Place, abutting Lake Ontario. “I’m born and raised in Toronto, but when I’m running down there, I forget about the city and exhale.”
“There are so many landmarks on the straight-waterfront-shot from Sugar Beach to Trillium Park, all along the waterfront, including the Harbourfront Centre, the wavedecks along Queens Quay, the Music Garden and Trillium Park,” Brookes says. “And you can finish down the pathway to the lake in one of the most beautiful stretches of the city! It’s a made-in-Toronto [almost] 5K you won’t forget anytime soon.”
The route: Start at Sugar Beach, run west to Trillium Park.
Option 2: 10 kilometres in the east
Dave Emilio, a long-time race organizer and run leader who is based in the Beaches, says you can’t beat an east-side waterfront swim on a certified beach or else a picturesque run along the boardwalk.
“You’re running in an area where people are having fun,” says Emilio, race director of the Tannenbaum 10K and Shakespeare Runs the Night. “There’s a captivating spirit you get from seeing boats in the marina, lawn bowlers, volleyball players and families on the beach. You’re running through a community and there’s an important Beaches principle: everyone is welcome.”
The route: Start at Leslie Street and Lake Shore Boulevard East. Then, on the boardwalk, head east, then go south at Coxwell Avenue and continue down to the tip of the peninsula.
Now head back to the boardwalk and run past Woodbine Avenue and Kew Gardens on your way out to Balmy Beach. From there, shoot straight back west and finish your run at Woodfield Road.
Option 3: (Almost) 15 kilometres in the west
Kate Van Buskirk is a Commonwealth Games medallist as well as host and producer of The Shakeout Podcast and the athlete director for Athletics Canada. She recommends a route that traverses the stunning Humber Bay Arch Bridge. A Tokyo-Olympic hopeful in middle distances, Van Buskirk says she trains on the Martin Goodman Trail because of the community.
“Even if you’re running alone and don’t run into a friend, you’re always getting smiles, little waves and nods,” says Van Buskirk. This stretch of the trail is the place in the world she’s run most. “The city also does an incredible job of keeping the trail well maintained throughout the year, which is so important.”
The route: From Strachan Avenue and Lakeshore, head west and pass Palais Royale and the Sunnyside Pavilion Café. Ascend the Humber Bay Arch Bridge, which is always majestic, and run past the Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat, with convenient signage, then run straight onto Marine Parade Drive, which ends at a smaller pedestrian bridge.
“Touch the end of the small bridge and head back to Strachan and you’ve just done 14.48K!”