Ahhhh, summer in Toronto. Is there anything better? After battling lake-effect wind chills, poorly shovelled sidewalks, and slippery footing all winter long, there’s nothing quite like the return of summer for the Toronto running community. So now that you have more running-route options besides hitting the tried and true MGT every day, where should you go? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
In this article, we’ve put together five of our favourite Toronto summer running routes, all of them suitable for various athletic levels and abilities. We used a variety of criteria when deciding which routes to pick, including:
- Water fountain access (you can also grab a comprehensive map of Toronto’s water fountains as posted in a 2015 Reddit article here)
- Selfie opportunities
So pack up your run crew, put on a pair of sunnies, tighten those split shorts, and get ready to maximize Toronto’s summer running season!
Distance: 10 km
While a big chunk of the Humber River trail has been under construction for over a year now, you can still enjoy the lower Humber River Trail and loop back south through the Swansea area west of High Park. The neighbourhood’s gorgeous homes will distract you from the hilly terrain and the trees on the back half of this route offer some nice shade as you descend back towards the waterfront. Keep an eye out for Toronto Maple Leafs’ captain John Tavares who resides in this area. A family of deer is known to reside in the field on the left just before turning right onto Stephen Road. You may also see musicians practising just prior at the Oculus Pavilion.
Distance: 10 km
Starting at Casa Loma, this route takes you where no Toronto-dweller dares to roam… North of St. Clair! Joking aside, crossing St. Clair and running East/West on Heath and Lonsdale are some of the best roads to run with a group as they have very little car traffic and lots of shade. You can pop down to St. Clair at any time and grab refreshments at the many convenience stores as well as pop up to Upper Canada College to use the public access water fountain. As you return to the familiar gridlock of the city, grab a photo on the beautifully symmetrical and tree-lined Carstowe Rd. Brace yourself for a steep climb back up to Casa Loma to finish, or take on the Baldwin Steps for some extra burn!
Distance: 20 km
If it's a hot day, you best be bringing water with you (and/or fill up at the Park entrance bathrooms at Leslie/Unwin), but no summer is complete without a hot and sweaty session along Leslie Street Spit. Starting from Sugar Beach and following Cherry Street to the Cherry Beach trail (extended MGT), this is one of the best runs to take your out-of-town friend on. It has incredible views of the Toronto skyline as it extends nearly five kilometres into Lake Ontario. Considered an “accidental wilderness” habitat, Tommy Thompson Park is actually human-made and was intended as a shipping port when originally planned in the 1950s. It is a popular spot for nature enthusiasts and bird watchers during the summer months. Runners should note that public access is restricted to weekends, holidays, and weekdays from 4 pm to 9 pm.
Distance: 11.2 km
If it’s hills you’re craving, head east. The Beaches have some of the most quad-crushing roads in the GTA. Wear your most fashionable running attire and pretend you’re running along the California coast as you enter the Boardwalk where you’ll see surfers, volleyball, and lots of dogs. Continue to past the Balmy Beach Club and head north up any of the residential roads towards Queen Street before weaving back towards Leslieville for a well-earned pint at one of the many craft breweries. For an extra challenge, run all the way up to Kingston Road and back down different roads - just be sure to have a massage booked for recovery!
Distance: 12 km
Elevation: ModerateThough you may have missed the Cherry Blossoms, the views in High Park are superb year-round. Starting on the MGT at Colborne Lodge Drive, head east towards downtown before making your way up to Dundas to enter the rail path. Follow the rail path and exit onto Annette heading back west. This is where the fun begins. You’ll be ripping downhill on High Park Ave towards the Bloor Street entrance where you’ll see fitness classes, tennis matches, run clubs and drum circles gathered during the warmest months. Let yourself get lost in the trails (not actually) and run a few loops around the main roads before finishing back down Colborne Lodge and onto the MGT. There is also a handy onsite restaurant in the middle of the park where you can use the washroom or refill your water bottle.