Looking for a free, family-friendly activity? Take these urban hikes within reach of Yonge and Eglinton.

You may not have thought of Toronto as a nature walk destination, but its system of interconnected ravines offers an almost endless number of possible strolls—and a glimpse into the daily life of “real” residents (especially the dog owners!). 

More than just a system of stream and river valley parks, the ravines are an essential part of local identity, and a major reason why Toronto deserves its official motto of “City within a Park.” Colourful in the fall and shady in the summer, they’ve also inspired Toronto authors from Margaret Atwood to Michael Ondaatje. The journalist and cultural commentator Robert Fulford once wrote that Toronto’s ravines are “the shared subconscious of the municipality, the places where much of the city's literature is born.”

Exploring Toronto’s ravines isn’t necessarily hard, although you may encounter difficulties if you have mobility issues or require mobility devices. You won’t get lost if you stick to the main trails, and the entry and exit points tend to be close to transit. 

Despite its urban look and feel, Yonge and Eglinton makes a convenient base camp for the urban trail walker—many of the most beautiful ravine trails are uptown, and Eglinton Station can act as a hub for reaching them. 

So put on your comfortable walking shoes and try these trails, with suggested picnic foods. 

Walk 1: Alexander Muir Memorial Gardens and Sherwood Park

This route starts at a flower garden dedicated to Alexander Muir, composer of “The Maple Leaf Forever,” and it eventually connects you to the gentle, flat fields of Sunnybrook Park. In between, it leads you through forested corridors of white pine, beech and maple trees—classic Toronto ravine vibes.

Getting there and route: From Eglinton Station, take the 97 Yonge bus north to Yonge Street at St. Edmunds Drive. On the east side of the street you’ll see the entrance to Alexander Muir Memorial Gardens. After exploring the gardens, head southeast along the paved road (Alexander Muir Road) until you reach the place where the parking lot gives way to a wooded trail. Follow that trail, heading generally south and east, until you reach Bayview Avenue. Walk south on Bayview until you reach Eglinton Avenue East, where you can take the 34, 54 or 56A buses to get back to Eglinton Station. Or if you’re game for more walking, cross Bayview and take the trail into the sprawling, bucolic Sunnybrook Park.

Picnic pit stop: Bring some eats from Yonge and Eglinton with you on this hike—there isn’t much to grab along the way. May we suggest a Vietnamese sandwich from Banh Mi Boys (2365 Yonge St.)?

Walk 2: Cedarvale Park/Ravine

Grab some of Toronto’s tastiest beef patties near either end of this trail, and then sneak a peek at some posh backyards. If you start at the north end, you’ll pass through a typical park—featuring an arena, a cricket field and a dog off-leash area—before you arrive at the ravine proper, which is popular with dog-walkers. Remember to ask the owners before petting! 

Getting there and route: (If you’re starting at Yonge and Eglinton, start by taking the 32 Eglinton bus westbound from Eglinton Station to Eglinton West Station.) Exit Eglinton West subway station and head two blocks south on Everden Road. The ravine trail runs roughly south-southeast for a little more than 2 km (1.2 miles), and will deposit you at Tichester Road, where there’s a convenient entrance to St. Clair West TTC station. 

Picnic pit stop: Randy’s Take Out (1569 Eglinton Ave. W.) near the north end, or Albert’s Real Jamaican Foods (542 St. Clair Ave. W.) near the south. 

Walk 3: Edwards Gardens/Wilket Creek Recreational Trail 

This walk starts in the splendidly manicured Edwards Gardens and then continues along the beautiful and gentle Wilket Creek ravine path. 

Getting there and route: From Eglinton station, take the 54 Lawrence East bus eastbound and get off at Leslie Street. Enter Edwards Gardens through the parking lot, admire for as long as you like, and then follow the signs to Wilket Creek Trail. Head south to the bottom of the trail. Near the washrooms you’ll see signs for Eglinton Avenue, where you can catch the 34 bus to Eglinton subway station. You’ll have walked around 4.5 km (2.8 miles).

Picnic pit stop: Munch on baked goods and a coffee or tea to go from TBG Bloom Cafe on the grounds.