I purchased my first bike last summer for the price of a monthly transit pass and literally peddled my way into a healthier more exciting life. Each morning I wiz through the rush hour traffic of downtown Toronto, getting high off the bustling energy of the city in full swing. My 45 minute work-bound commute takes a sweet turn when I hit the lake and sail along the Martin Goodman trail, which leads straight to my office on the rocky shores of Mimico.
Toronto’s waterfront has undergone a major facelift in recently years with improved cycling infrastructure and award winning public parks that dot our shores. As new improvements continue to pop up, Toronto is positioned as a city with a world class waterfront that offers something special for everyone to enjoy.
My partner Matt and I hopped on our bikes and travelled from Mimico out west to Toronto’s scenic Tommy Thompson Park in the east end on a 7 hour tour which featured our favourite spots along the lake. We spent the day peddling around the city in style while sporting fresh new lewks from Columbia Sportswear’s Spring collection. The brands Trail Flash series offers light, breathable shirts and shorts perfect for cycling around the city.
Toronto offers a cosmopolitan meets rugged rural nirvana for cyclists, from the natural environments of our waterfront parks to slick urban hangouts. If you’re looking for a carbon-neutral joyride powered by beautiful views and tasty treats hop on your two wheeler and enjoy a blissful cruise through The 6.
Top 10 Cycle Stops on Toronto’s Waterfront Trail
Fiat Mihi Bicycle Cafe and Art Studio in Mimico
Our day started in a sweet artist studio turned bicycle laboratory turned café where artist Dejan Radic carefully siphons coffee and serves a tasty cup of organic java to fuel our morning journey. Fiat Mihi Bicycle Cafe and Art Studio caters to cyclists along the trail and is full of his art and hand-made cycling accessories that are both functional and fantastical. Positioned at the beginning of the Martin Goodman trail, this is a true hidden gem of the lakeshore!
High Park Zoo
If you are looking to add some cuteness to your urban joyride head a few minutes north off the trail through a 10,000 year old black oak savannah and park your bike at the High Park Zoo. Whether you are a llama kinda gal or a yak kinda guy the zoo offers you a shady and scenic hang out spot with majestic creatures that will are sure to bring a smile to your face.
Woodlots and meadows of the west-end trail give way to public plazas, restaurants and shops that animate Toronto’s central waterfront. Matt and I dismounted at the Spadina wave decks at Harbourfront Centre to hydrate and play on the rolling wooden boardwalk that always inspires me to run up and down them despite the obvious threat to my wellbeing.
Sugar Beach offers a quiet place to recline into a comfy Muskoka chair with iconic pastel pink umbrellas under a clear blue sky. With our feet in the sand and minds clean and clear we stared into the lake and forgot we were a few blocks away from the busiest downtown cores in all of Canada. After a few relaxing moments we zipped out of the pop-inspired urban beach in search of the perfect snack to tame our growing appetite.
Voted as the best food market in the world by National Geographic, The St. Lawrence Market offers visitors everything they could ever hope to eat amidst beautiful, historic architecture. Matt and I whirled through the bustling crowds straight towards Carousel Bakery for their world-famous peameal bacon sandwiches. While chowing down in an adjacent park a group of French tourists politely demanded directions to the source of our delicious Hog Town treat.
Biking west through the historic St.Lawrence area quickly brought us to the West Donlands, one of Toronto’s newest residential neighbourhoods. At the northern edge of this master-planned community we are greeted with a unique urban playground under an elevated highway. The entire park seemingly appears out of nowhere. Structural columns that support the Gardiner Expressway become canvases for dazzling murals from top local artist. A skate park, tot lot and urban climbing stations for older “kids” are positioned among innovative art installations.
Corktown Commons Park
A short bike ride from underpass park and at the heart of an emerging new community is the innovative green space Corktown Commons Park. The park has turned former industrial lands into an amazing meeting place full of winding trails that swing between marshes, lush lawns, urban prairies, playgrounds and splash pads. This park sets the standard for sustainable design because of its predominately native planting pallet and community gathering spaces. It’s a great balance between ecological landscape and urban wonderland.
Martin Goodman Trail
Imagine zipping through 3m tall grasses, vibrantly coloured stem of native dogwoods and other wild vegetation blowing in the wind. This is my happy spot as a cyclist. The Martin Goodman Trail offers a unique refuge from the urban environment just west of Cherry Beach. You find yourself completely enveloped by lush vegetation in the warmer months on this stretch of the trail. There are great secluded spots right off the trail to catch your breath while harmonizing to tweets from the adjacent bird sanctuary.
Tommy Thompson Park
Few places in Toronto reveal the city’s history in the way that Tommy Thompson Park does. While you are overlooking the beautiful and ever changing skyline, at your feet you literary have the rubble and construction debris that went into making that metropolis. The entire park is a peninsula built on beautiful pieces of rounded brick, smooth geometric chunks of porcelain and glass that coalesce among discarded concrete hydro poles in a beautiful wild dynamic harmony. You are standing on a work of art that is made out of our city. The park also serves as habitat for migratory birds and of aquatic life. There are many cyclists that frequent this park because it affords a spectacular view of the city within a unique setting.
On our way back downtown and after 7 hours of cycling we were ready to devour a decadent braised beef bourguignon poutine while slurping an ice cold local brew at Cluny Bistro in Toronto’s historic Distillery District. While we may not have been dressed in our usual brunch attire, we had earned our throne at the chic locale and thoroughly enjoyed a delicious feast while sporting our new Columbia Sportswear ensembles. Before peddling back downtown we strolled through the gorgeously renovated Victorian era factory-loft conversions and stopped in a few boutique shops to admire the merch and have a coffee to end a perfect day.
Written by Joaquin Sevillano @quejoaquin