One of Toronto's largest, oldest and arguably most famous parks, High Park has a long history and a web of well-maintained trails and paths that run through it for cyclists and pedestrians alike.
For the final article in my Solo Biking Routes of Toronto series, I’ve chosen High Park. Located in the west end between the lakeshore and up to Bloor Street, it is the largest park within the old city’s limits. It contains a myriad of hiking/cycling trails, a zoo, many children’s playgrounds, a restaurant, a long history and some of the last tracts of intact woodland that used to cover the area before Toronto because a city.
For a cyclist, High Park has it all: long, flat stretches; winding, undulating hills and steep slopes. It you want an easy route, start from the main entrance on Bloor Street and head south.
The terrain is pretty flat at first, and you’ll ride through the main recreation area with its tennis courts and picnic tables. If you veer westwards, you’ll quickly come to the slopes of the ravine around Grenadier Pond. If you’ve veered east, the trails are a bit wider, but they will also cross over a couple of the roads that pass through the park.
Once you reach the south end of the park, you can either turn around and head back via a different route, or cross Queensway then under a bridge to get to the Martin Goodman Trail and the lakeshore park system.
The Hillside Gardens area in the southwest side of High Park contains some of it’s most beautiful scenery. It is here that you will find the cherry blossoms (sakura) in the spring. There are also ornamental gardens and a very picturesque little waterfall that is popular as a backdrop for wedding photos. Just beyond the gardens is Grenadier Pond where you can fish, bird watch or just sit and relax on a park bench and take in the scenery.
One of my favorite parts of the park is the small zoo. It can be found on Deer Pen Road. The small zoo has some bison, mountain goats, wallabies and even an emu or two among others, but one of the animals I like the most are the highland cattle with their long horns and shaggy ginger hair.
High Park can be a very busy park. Some of the paths do not have good sightlines due to the bends, crests and dips that the trails take. You need to always look out for other cyclists, pedestrians, dogs and children. I do not recommend leaving the trails and venturing into the undergrowth due to many pockets of poison ivy — you’ll find signs alerting you to this very annoying plant throughout the park. If you are riding in the evening you’ll also need to be a bit more aware of the park’s wildlife such as raccoons, skunks and coyotes.
I hope you enjoyed this series. If you live in Toronto, you’ve most likely enjoyed at least one of the Solo Bike Routes I’ve written about here. If you are a visitor to Toronto, I recommend you check out one or two while you’re here. They are all excellent places to relax and easy to get to on foot or by bicycle. Happy, safe riding and Lomo On!
You might also like:
- Solo Biking Routes: The Leslie Spit - Toronto’s Little Known Wilderness
- Solo Biking Routes: Trinity Bellwoods Park - Queen West’s Urban Oasis
- Solo Biking Routes: The Toronto Islands