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11 of the best dog-friendly hikes and trails in and around Toronto

From the city beaches to the peaceful forests and rivers further North, we've selected the best hikes to explore with your pup in Toronto.

Photo | @goose.explores

Although Toronto is better known for its glistening skyscrapers and buzzing nightlife than it's natural surroundings, there's plenty of luscious spaces to explore with your dog in your downtime.

And unlike it's mountainous West Coast counterpart Vancouver, Toronto is pretty much uniformly flat. However that doesn't mean you and your pup won't be able to go on some challenging adventures. In fact, there's several canyons, cliffs and rivers to trek along that offer awesome views as well as a leg burn to help you and your pooch work up a sweat.

We've pulled together some of our favourites that are within 2 hours of Toronto - check off how many you and your pup have done!

1. Sherwood Park and Sunnybrook Park

A mere 15 minutes from the city, Sherwood Park is settled just north of Midtown and Davisville Village and is filled with several trails, picnic benches and it's own off-leash area. Although it's mostly flat, there are some hilly areas to stretch your legs. There's even free parking if travelling by car!

Time from Toronto: 15 minute drive

Just over to the East of Sherwood Park is Sunnybrook Park, a large flat recreational area where dogs can enjoy the off-leash park and dog fountain. You can even connect your walk between the two by following the trail path east along the creek. Snapping turtles live here, so make sure pups are kept on leash and away from environmentally sensitive areas.

Time from Toronto: 15 minute drive

2. Eldred King Woodlands

If you're after a relaxing and peaceful weekend walk, Eldred King Woodlands near Ballantrae is the place to go. With 18km of trails and perfect for a fall stroll when leaves change from luscious greens to burning oranges, you and your pooch will be dog-earing this one in your favourites lists for many hikes to come. Most of the trails are low hills, interspersed with hollows and kettles so shouldn't be too challenging.

Time from Toronto: 45 minutes to 1 hour drive

3. Milne Dam Conservation Park

Complete with it's very own suspension bridge, dogs and humans alike who want to stroll above the Rouge River in Markham will love this destination. Height-fearing dog owners shouldn't worry though - this stable bridge at the Milne Dam Conservation Park isn't of the narrow-one-person-at-a-time kind. On weekdays, admission to the park is free but on weekends and stat days, adults will need to pay $4.50.

Time from Toronto: 30 mins to 1 hour drive

4. Don Valley trails

The Don River is one of Toronto's not-so-hidden gems, spanning almost 38km in length from the Oake Ridges Moraine to Lake Ontario. On the way, there are countless parks, trails and mountain biking areas to explore. Crothers Woods is one of them, and is perfect for running through with your dog or trudging through on a cooler, muddier day. Either way, there's plenty to see here - and you'll likely have a wet dog at the end of your trip!

Time from Toronto: 30 minute drive

5. Toronto Islands

A perfect day-trip from the city, a visit to Toronto Islands offers more than just a ferry ride away from the hustle and bustle of Downtown. A 14km out and back trail welcomes those who want to explore this almost holiday-like destination on the shores of Lake Ontario, with bridges and pathways connecting a group of 15 islands. Dogs are welcome (on leash) to explore the beaches, 200-year-old lighthouse, grassy fields and ponds with their owners.

Time from Toronto: 13 minute ferry ride

6. Crawford Lake Conservation Area

Whatever the season, there's plenty to explore at Crawford Lake Conservation Area. Dogs are welcome on-leash at this destination, and can enjoy spotting turtles in the lake from the boardwalk in summer or following their owners' tracks as they snowshoe along the trails. Reservations are required for visits.

Time from Toronto: 55 minutes to 1 hour 30 mins drive

7. Kelso Conservation Area

Just beyond Milton, Kelso Conservation Area has tonnes of hikes and mountain biking trails to explore in summer once the winter snow and ice has melted away. Plus, there's great views from the top, and the reservoir is open for swimming and boating in the warmer months. There's even a campsite to stay at if you want to extend your stay. An entrance fee of $9.50 per adult applies and reservations are required before you visit. Dogs must also stay on-leash.

Time from Toronto: 1 hour to 1 hour 40 mins drive.

8. Mono Cliffs Provincial Park

Up north and not too far from the tourist stop-in, Schitt's Creek Motel, is Mono Cliffs Provincial Park, where you and your pup can explore the rocky terrain through canyons and clifftops. Open year-round, trails include the 4.8km Walter Tovell trail or shorter strolls like the 600m Lookout and Link Trails. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a leash.

Time from Toronto: 1 hour 15 mins to 2 hours

9. Scarborough Bluffs

With 11 parks along cliff tops overlooking Lake Ontario, Scarborough Bluffs is a hiker's dream for a good leg burn and a viewpoint. Make sure to always keep pups on a leash here, as there are some very steep drops. Dogs and owners alike can look forward to a stroll on the beach to relax after a long day's hike.

Time from Toronto: 30 mins to 1 hour drive

10. Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area

Narrow crevices and caves are ready to explore at Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area along the Nottawasaga Bluffs Trail. If small spaces aren't for you or your pup, head up to Rattlesnake Point where you can take in the views of the sprawling countryside around you. If you're really up for a challenge, you can even hike from here to Crawford Lake (on this list!) with a round trip taking between 4 and 5 hours, so come prepared with plenty of snacks and water. Reservations are required for this all-year-round destination with adult tickets costing $9.50.

Time from Toronto: 50 minutes to 1 hour 35 mins drive

11. Bronte Creek Provincial Park

A fantastic family-friendly destination, Bronte Creek Provincial Park has a wealth of hiking trails, including the Trillium Trail - the best place in the park to see spring wildflowers and look over the valley floor. If you and your pooch are after a leg burn, the Halfmoon Valley Trail might be the one for you with some steep climbs. For the family, there's a nature centre - with turtles! - and an historic farmhouse, and for dogs, there's not one but two off-leash dog areas to zoom around in.

Time from Toronto: 45 minutes to 1 hour 25 mins drive


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