Whether you’re wanting a full body workout or just to clear your mind, hiking outdoors has tons of benefits for everyone to enjoy. From taking in the beautiful views to breathing the fresh air and listening to the tranquil sounds of nature, hiking is one of the most enjoyable forms of exercise for physical health and well-being. Hiking can be a very powerful cardio workout as well, which helps with a number of health risk factors, including lowering your risk of heart disease, improving your blood pressure and glucose levels, and increasing bone density. One of the biggest benefits of hiking are building balance and strength in multiple core areas, like your hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, and lower legs.
In addition to all of the physical benefits of hiking, there are plenty of mental benefits like boosting your mood, reducing stress, and calming anxiety just from being outdoors. Research shows that hiking can have an overall positive impact on your mental health. This is mostly caused by opening up your senses and taking in the sights, smells, and the peaceful vibes of nature. Being outdoors is almost ingrained into our very existence, and it’s very easy to forget that with all the hustle and bustle of everyday life. If you’re thinking of taking that next hiking trip near Toronto, check out these 10 hiking trails below and get onto the path of a better you!
1. Mount Nemo – 5 km
The hiking trails of Mount Nemo are a less-popular option compared to something like Rattlesnake Point, but don’t let that deter you from a great hike! Mount Nemo actually offers a ton of trail options, overlapping with the Bruce Trail and leading to a breathtaking lookout that offers great views of the Toronto skyline. Reservations are now required before visiting Mount Nemo Conservation Area, but it’s totally worth the time.
2. 99-Step Trail – 1 to 2 km
This is one of the more famous trails in the area, and it’s located in the Thornton Bales Conservation Area. Special features include rugged hiking trails and even a steep natural staircase for a good full-body workout. Considering all the steps, this one should be considered a more challenging hike than the others, but it’s good to point out there are multiple trail loops with different hiking distances to choose from here.
3. Bruce Trail – 880 km (total)
The Bruce Trail is Canada’s oldest and longest footpath, making it the most famous of our top 10 hiking trails. This trail system goes all the way from Niagara Escarpment to Tobermory with an access point to the trail to Toronto located near Milton, totalling close to 1,000 km. This hiking trail is great for mental health with tons of beautiful views and scenery ranges, with everything from thick forest landscapes to massive rocky gorges.
4. Cliff-Top Side Trail – 8 km
This trail takes you through the Mono Cliffs, known as one of Ontario’s most amazing parks with views. The Cliff-Top Side Trail is known to be a great mental health enhancer, while also receiving a thorough body workout. With winding pathways of forests, to unique rock formations, tranquil lakes and along the vast cliffside for amazing views, you can’t go wrong with this trail, as it has the distance as well as the unique atmosphere to make it one of the best on the list.
5. Elora Gorge – 10 km
The Elora Gorge Conservation Area is a vast network of trails totalling over 10 km of scenic wonders. Hikers will have the opportunity to explore beautiful overlooks that offer vast views of the gorge. Through the Cedar trees you will make your way to a stunning 20m waterfall. This trail will be a wonderful exploration coupled with a decent workout should you want to push yourself and travel far.
6. Lynde Shores – 1 to 5 km
Lynde Shores is another hike that provides some great views, but also a lot of wildlife in the mix. There are multiple looping trails with varying distances of 1 to 5km, with views of marshland and the potential to really see some wildlife in action. If you’re an animal lover, Lynde Shores are the trails for you!
7. Mono Cliffs Provincial Park – 6 to 12 km
If you’re looking for a full-day hike, the Mono Cliffs Provincial Park has a vast network of trails along with many features including caves, cliffs, lookout points, and even horseback riding trails. This would be a great hiking spot for the whole family, with plenty of areas for clearing your mind as well as providing great exercise to boot.
8. Scarborough Bluffs Park – 5 to 6 km
The Scarborough Bluffs are super popular with tourists and considered one the best trails near Toronto. You’ll find some of the greatest views of Lake Ontario along the peaks in this trail. From sandy beaches to rugged cliffs, and even calm waters, you’ll be able to see lots of great spots along this trail. The main path is around 5 – 6km, so be sure to wear some good shoes if you’re planning on hiking this one!
9. High Park – 5 km
High Park is considered to be Toronto’s largest and most popular public park with hiking trails. If you’re looking for everything from exercise, to tranquility, to fun and excitement, this area has it all. From amazing waterfronts and gardens, to dog parks, playgrounds, cafes, and even a zoo! High Park has a large selection of hiking trails to choose from, and while many might have visited this park for other activities in the past, there’s so much more to do here if you’re a hiker and nature lover.
10. Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area – 3 to 10 km
Rattlesnake Point is another great spot of hiking along the cliff line, as well as countless caves for some adventure. This trail should be considered somewhat difficult, so be prepared if you’re going here. This trail can also be considered some of the best hiking near Toronto for that matter. There is even rock climbing available at Rattlesnake Point, with three designated sites for some climbing fun! Overall, if you’re in the mood for some adventure in your hike, look no further than Rattlesnake Point.