Whether you’re in search of an easy walk in the woods or a more strenuous trek, the Greater Toronto Area has dozens of perfect parks, trails and conservation areas — many of them free to access. Here is a rundown of Toronto’s best snowshoe trails:
Quick & Easy
The Bronte Coronation and Battery Park Trail can be reached by public transit and provides designated rest areas throughout. The route runs along a flat trail and offers a smooth, scenic walk in the woods. You may be puffing a bit if you cover the entire 1.16 km at a quick pace, but taking it slow is OK as well. There is parking and easy access to the trail.
King’s Mill Park Trail, on the west bank of the Humber River, can be accessed from the Old Mill Transit Station. The trail is paved, which means you have 1.6 km of smooth trekking through a wintery wonderland. It’s close enough to the city that you can enjoy a morning ‘shoe and still have the rest of the day for other adventures.
The Edwards Garden Trail takes you through four acres that include 12 themed gardens. If you have visited the garden in bloom, you’ll appreciate seeing how carefully structured and well-planned the plants are under snow. A beautiful garden is not an accident, and each garden is unique despite being muted by a blanket of white.
The Christie Lake Conservation Area charges an access fee, but with more than 10 km of trails, you’ll find an entire day of snowshoeing fun within. Trails meander through meadows and forests and are generally easy. You can even enjoy a chilly picnic or some much deserved hot chocolate in one of the designated picnic areas.
For the More Determined
The Altona Forest is a unique urban woodland made up of a mix of deciduous and conifer trees. The Forest Trail takes you through mature interior forest that provides habitat to diverse and rare plant species. Enjoy the complex intertwining of trees that create both open areas for wildflowers and protective canopies for migrating birds.
The Black Creek Valley has a paved pathway that is easy-going for snowshoers, or you can head off into the forest for a more challenging trek. Since this is a mix of groomed and wild parkland, you will see orderly structures, recently planted saplings and more mature plant life. The trail is five kilometres long, but you can easily travel much farther while wandering through the trees.
The Cedarvale Ravine and Beltline Trail are located in the heart of Toronto. Once the Beltline Railway Route, the trail now passes through Forest Hill, mixing nature with history along the way. From Rosedale Station to Davisville Station trail is seven kilometres long and will leave you tired, but quite satisfied, at the end.
The Brampton Etobicoke Creek Trail is 14.5 km of creekside trekking through a lightly forested area. The trail is maintained and relatively flat, but the distance is challenging for most snowshoe adventurers. To add even more distance, Conservation Drive Park surrounds the creek at one point and has its own trail through dense forest.
Dedicated Trekkers’ Trails
Centennial Park has a system of mountain bike trails that crisscross the area. Snowshoers can spend hours hiking multiple loops of varying degrees of difficulty. All the trails are marked and colour-coded to keep you from getting lost. The park is also popular with cross-country skiers who also enjoy the diverse challenges.
The Unionville Valleylands has an extensive network of trails that pass the pond and head into the woods. Snowshoe along simple paths or plan difficult loops over hills and through trees. Some loops are as long as 10 km and should only be tackled by the experienced trekker. Keep an eye out for cross-country skiers enjoying the same paths.
The Vaughn Trail is wild and tricky. The terrain varies and the trail connects to the Terra Cotta Lane and McGregor Spring Pond trails that give you the opportunity to keep going, if you want. Actually, the entire region is networked with trails and old roadways that let you explore multiple regions of the conservation area. If you plan to try several paths, pick up a map before you head out. This area does charge a fee, but you can spend hours out in the woods, or plan to camp and make a weekend of it.