Cycling Secrets of the Don Valley
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Cycling Secrets of the Don Valley

Many of Toronto’s avid cyclists are aware of our network of bike trails, but for the most part, the slice of pseudo-wilderness cutting a swath through the Don Valley and along Taylor Creek is one of the city’s most woefully neglected attractions. Those who use it may like it that way (its obscurity keeps bike and foot traffic relatively sparse), but we think it’s a treasure that should be celebrated.

Though the route also splits off near Don Mills Road, passing behind the Ontario Science Centre and up to Edwards Gardens, we chose to highlight the easterly jaunt, with its terminus at Dawes Road (near Victoria Park Avenue). Lakeshore Boulevard at the Don Roadway provides the other access point.
What makes this particular course appealing is how it begins with dense foliage and the meandering, rocky river, eventually becoming more urbanized as you head south, kissing the edge of the Don Valley Parkway and passing under rusting expressway ramps near the portlands. The charm lies in quirks like the odd water crossings in Taylor Creek Park, the mammoth foundations of the Prince Edward Viaduct, and experiencing some wetland efforts meant to undo the environmental damage done by the industrialization of the Don River.

Image: Google Maps/Abvio Cyclemeter

Most of all, it’s a magnificent and surprisingly tranquil chunk of nature running clandestinely through the heart of downtown Toronto. You’d hardly know it, because access to the trail is virtually invisible from street level, and existing wayfinding signage is minimal and decrepit (there is an official map, but it’s confusing and overcomplicated, natch). Because the stretch running alongside the DVP is sunken into the valley and the traffic passes up high, the presence of such a major highway is often barely noticeable and a lot quieter than you’d expect.
Toronto’s tourism campaigns don’t include scenes of river rapids and and dense valley flora, but perhaps they should—we’re positive that many visitors would much rather spend their summer afternoon on a bike than wait in line at the CN Tower. As for Torontonians, it’s a big ol’ backyard many of us didn’t even know we had.
Photos by Marc Lostracco/Torontoist.
Main access points to this route near vehicle parking are from Taylor Creek Park, Stan Wadlow Park, E. T. Seton Park, Coxwell Ravine Park, Riverdale Park, and the Queen Street Bridge at Bayview. The southern terminus can be accessed by bike from the Lakeshore East bike pathway, which runs from Beaches Park to Lower Sherbourne.