Toronto West - Martin Goodman/Waterfront Trail
|Trail:||Paved Bike Path and On road - some busy|
|Connections:||Toronto East, Toronto Islands, High Park, Humber River, Mississauga East|
This trail description will take you from the Toronto ferries west to Marie Curtis Park in Etobicoke. From Toronto to the Humber along the Martin Goodman trail and then to Mimico creek, the trail is paved cycle path. From there on, the path is mostly residential on road, but with a fair distance that runs on road along Lakeshore Blvd. It could have been this section of bike trail that inspired others. This section is heavily used by cyclists, in line skaters, joggers, and families out for a walk along the lake. Seeing the amount of people that use this section, must have been a surprise after it was built. It's been there for some time, and before the Waterfront trail was built, I used to head there from Mississauga along Queensway Blvd. In my mind, we owe the foresight of building the Martin Goodman trail for surprising the city planners of the day that cycling is still an active way used by many to enjoy the urban outdoors.
This section, then is the place to go. Although we'll start from from the ferries, many, especially the inline skaters, come by car and park along the west end parking lots along Sunnyside, or go to Humber Bay, or Marie Curtis Parks.
Harbourfront - Bay St.
At the foot of Bay St. on Queen's Quay (If this is french, pronounced 'K' as in OK, they why does everyone pronounce it as 'key' ?) it's best to keep to the north side and cycle on road. Trying to cycle on sidewalk is a complete waste of time as well as against the law. Even without a painted cycle lane, there is enough bike traffic along this road to make it a virtual one but beware! Taxies, tourists, turning cars, parking lots, pedestrians stepping out, streetcars and parked tourist bus coaches obstructing your view make this section a safety challenge. Head west along Queen's Quay across Spidina taking care of the Streetcar rails as well as the traffic and past the Toronto Music Gardens where a reserved cycle lane begins. If you're with children, or just feel unsafe on road, walking the bike on the south sidewalk is a good idea and there are many attractions along the way. Westbound, continue in lane, until Bathurst St.
Here, the reserved lane crosses from the inside (sidewalk) to the outside of the car lane, placing you to continue straight through Bathurst onto Tutu Blvd. This configuration has long been used as my personal 'safe position' to handle turning traffic lanes, I now see it being published on most cycle maps.
Continue on Tutu till the end, then, watching traffic, pick up the trail on the ahead on other side as it heads into a park and Yacht club. The trail curves away towards lakeshore but curves again westward and into Coronation park.
You can either follow the trail beside park road near the sport fields, or curve back towards the lake and ride along the lakefront. The first way takes you in front of Exhibition gates and access to Fort York and away from pedestrians, the other is a pleasant but slower view by the lake. Either way you come rejoin at the west end of the park and head along the reserved lane towards Ontario Place. Note that along this section Pedestrians have their own path but sometimes the bike path marking is prettier or pedestrians just otherwise walk along the bike path. It's along here I stopped once and politely warned a camera buff with tripod that taking a picture on a bike bath is unwise. He gave me the expected 'mind your own business' grump sound and I continued on my way and ,you guessed it, moments later heard that crash sound only a bike and tripod can make!
Once you've made your curve the bike trail and Pedestrian path join. Don't bother, there is so much pedestrian traffic that you can only safely walk your bike. Most either ride beside the pedestrian path or take normal riding position on road.
You can cross into Ontario Place and immediately head towards lakeshore along a small narrow path that encircles the entrance to the west other side or as many do, go on road along the parking service road and bypass Ontario Place altogether. If you took the narrow path, around the entrance way, you'll be heading along the lake, against the pedestrian traffic and beside parked cars. Crawl along at less than walking speed (excited children dart from between the parked cars onto the path!) or better yet, walk the bike (and still expect to stop suddenly) until you reach the West Entrance. Here the path ducks under the entrance crossway and curves sharply on the on the other side back up to lakeshore. You have a bell right? Good place to ring and telegraph your presence to eastbound bikes. If you bypassed Ontario place, the service road will bring you to the Exhibition stands, just pick your time to cross back to the south (lake) side of the road and avoid crossing cars entering at speed off of Lakeshore Blvd.
Exhibition West - Marilyn Bell Park
Head west through the stands along the waterfront, past the pedestrian bridge to Exhibition and enter the bike lanes at the west end that run along the service road lakeside. Watch for pedestrians and ride along the bike lane until it enters back into the park and curves around the Jameson St. pedestrian bridge back up towards lakeshore.
Argonaut Rowing Club - Boulevard Club
Cycle along the bike path past the park and tennis courts and head down hill past the Boulevard Club. Nota Benne at the bottom of that hill you will cross the Boulevard Club's busy entrance. Best to heed and make a full stop. Brakes in good working order? There are more park entrances along this path, as always, be on the lookout for cars and yield.
Continue along past Palais Royal and the Roncesvalles pedestrian bridge then further along, past the swimming pool and the Sunnyside Pavilion. Past the pavilion, and past the Ice cream stop! That path runs between Sunnyside Park and the parking entrances, and lots. Also, at some pedestrian crosses the path is bricked although most inline skaters don't seem to have a problem. This section can get quite busy with inline skaters, pedestrians, children and cyclists. Where you see a children's outdoor pool and concession stand, there is also a public washroom. At the west end of the parking lots and before you curve towards the Humber bridge, you'll cross what seems like the last parking entrance to the path, but if you look, it's also raised like a wide speed bump across the parking lot and to Windermere Ave. This is the old Eastern Access to the Humber trail and now the Sunnyside community. The better way to the Humber trail is across the bridge on it's western side.
Humber River Bridge
Cycle past the QEW monument, up hill and go over the Humber pedestrian bridge. On the west side, just after Sheldon lookout is the path leading to the Humber river trail. It curves behind the monument and runs under the bridge to join the Humber trail. The main path continues straight along past the Palace Pier monument and then winds north a bit before heading west again beside the relatively new Humber Bay parks. Stand on the dashed line of bricks at Sheldon lookout facing the lake and you're lined up to the morning sunrise!
Mimico Creek - Humber Bay Parks
The path continues west past the butterfly park and then goes uphill to cross the Humber Bay Park East entrance. Many head north here either to continue on road along Lakeshore Blvd or to Head further north. It's a pleasant side trip though to enter the park and follow the foot paths and to enjoy the views of Sunnyside Beaches.
On the other side of the park entrance the main path continues over the Mimico Creek bridge (Those with skinny tires may not like the bridge slats that run parallel to the path) and then either take a side trip to the West side of the park or head north back to Lakeshore Rd using the Park's West entrance.
From here to Marie Curtis the Waterfront trail is mostly on road along busy streets, crossing busy major streets with heavy traffic. IE the next section is for adults used to riding on major roads with busy traffic and often parked cars (careful not to catch the door prize). An alternate route is to head north of Lakeshore and west along residential streets but you still will have to cross busy Royal York Rd. Exit the West Humber Bay park entrance and cross Lakeshore (if you're comfortable with by crossing at the exit or going further west until a light). There are bike lanes on some stretches of Lakeshore West but eventually you'll ride on road until you reach First street. For adults then, continue along Lakeshore Blvd Past Royal York Rd then Dwight keeping your eyes peeled for First street to the south. Either cross here or continue until lights then head south towards the lake. If you're determined to cross this section of the trail but are not comfortable with major busy roads, then just simply walk the bike along the sidewalk. It's about the same distance as the start of Sunnyside to Mimico. Did I mention this section is dangerous for children?
Lakeshore Drive to Marie Curtis Park
From here to Marie Curtis it's mostly residential on road. Once you make your way near First St., head south towards the lake along Lakeshore Dr. Cross Second and continue along Morrison 'till 3rd. Head back south on 3rd to Lakeshore Dr. and continue along past some small parkettes as Lakeshore Dr. curves up and around the swimming pool at Rotary Park. Go south again on 11th after the pool and pick up Lakeshore Dr again to 13 th St. where you enter Colonel Samuel Smith Park. Here you can take a side trip into the small park that juts out on the lake around the yacht club or continue along the main path to the west end of the park and across the club entrance way and curve along the lake around the 'water' treatment plant where it exits onto Lake Promenade. On road again along...past 25th, and so on as Lake Prom. curves back down to Long Branch Park and Len Ford Park as Lake Prom. curves back up on 36th St. Take the first street, still Lake Promenade, westward past 37th, 38th... 'till you enter Marie Curtis Park at the end of Lake Prom. on 42nd Street.
Here you enter the park, pause and enjoy the people playing on the beach, stop to use the facilities or continue over the Etobicoke creek pedestrian bridge to Mississauga, or as a side trip, head up the creek along the path on it's east bank just before crossing the bridge. Enjoy the Mississauga section of the Waterfront trail, the city has put a lot of thought (and money) into improving the trail as you'll soon see.
I must have passed Ft York dozens of times before I stopped for a look. Located just north of the Exhibition Princess Gates, up Strachan Ave. east on Fleet, then up Garrison Rd. In 1793 Simcoe thought that here would be a good location for a Garrison, near the waterfront (now landfilled) to protect the West Toronto Harbour from the Americans. In 1813 during the war of 1812, the Americans burnt the parliament buildings and destroyed the fort but did not 'free' Canadians from their British background. Muskets used in 1812 were not very accurate, and often misfired. The expression flash in the pan and lock, stock, and barrel both refer to muskets.
As you cycle past Exhibition, on the other side of the pedestrian bridge, is the monument and outline of Fort Rouille also known as 'Toronto'. Built by the French in 1651 to replace the fort at the foot of the Humber and to compete for trade with the British south of the lake. The name Toronto persisted from the Humber as the place-name to trade with the French. The trading fort depended on the resources of Fort Niagara, the French fort across the Niagara river from where Fort George now stands. The french burned and abandoned Ft Rouille when the British attacked Ft Frontenac (Kingston) and Ft Niagara in 1759.
Sunnyside for many years was the amusement and entertainment park of Toronto. The main event was often watching an old ship burn and sink!
The Lions monument commemorates the opening of the QEW and the first time a reigning monarch visits Canada. Opened in 1939 by King George VI and his consort Queen Elizabeth (The Queens mom). Did you know the QEW's number designation is Highway 451?
Lakeshore Rd was one of the earliest roads in Ontario. First as an indian trail, then as the first paved highway in Ontario.
Col. Samuel Smith retired as a Queen Ranger in the area today known as Long Branch. The sizable farm ran from the east end of the park to Etobicoke Creek. It was eventually sold to developers to build the Long Branch Hotel, capitalizing on Long Branch NJ famous then for gambling. It was then known as the playground for the rich and summer retreat for several U.S. Presidents, The long branch of the New Jersey Shrewsbury River runs nearby.
Information in this document is subject to change without notice. Trail descriptions are provided as public information only. The author assumes no responsibility for damages or injuries that may occur to person or property as a result of biking or otherwise using the trails described herein. The author also assumes no responsibility for any damages or injuries to person or property caused by any person biking or otherwise using the trails described herein. Ride at your own risk. Pictures and web site is copyright 2004,2005