With spring finally here (was it ever really winter, though?), it’s time to jump off the treadmill and take our cardio out-of-doors. There are so many great spots to run – or walk, if that’s your thing – in Toronto, but we’ve highlighted our favourite five 5k routes in the city:
Lakeshore: Summertime Run
Toronto has a beautiful lakeshore to run along (and let’s hope that’s never marred by a casino, Mayor Ford). Start at the base of Lower Spadina and run past the marina, lusting over the beautiful boats docked there. Continue west through Coronation Park until you join up with Lake Shore Blvd. W. Cross the foot bridge (bonus points if you sprint up the steps) and Exhibition Place. Loop east to Strachan, cross at the lights and follow your route back to the marina. Enjoy the sound of seagulls and refreshing lake breeze.
High Park: City Escape Trail
High Park is ideal for running – not just because it brings us closer to nature, but because the hilly routes are challenging, so you can really gain endurance by sticking with this route for a few weeks or so. Starting at Bloor and Clendenan Ave. run east and enter the park at High Park Ave. Stick right along W. Rd. until it meets up with Colbourne Lodge Dr. Head north for a hot minute until you turn onto Centre Rd. Hang a Louie onto Spring Rd. and high-tail it back to your starting point. Or collapse on an inviting patch of grass for some sun salutations or a quick cat nap before heading back.
Cabbagetown: Wishful Thinking Route
Ah, Cabbagetown. What was once a low-income neighbourhood back in the day is now full of beautiful, fully-restored heritage homes (read: out of your budget). See how the 1% live by following this lovely route. Beginning just north of College on Bleeker, run straight until you reach Howard St. Then turn right and head towards Parliament, where you’ll change direction southward. Once you reach the cemetery entrance, head inside and do a loop of the perimeter. Exit the same way you went in and continue down Parliament, hanging a left onto Wellesley St. E. Run until you hit Sumach St. Wonder how little Cabbagetown homes cost 25 years ago. Curse your bank account and lack of foresight. Head west along Winchester St. until you return to your starting point. Shuffle dejectedly back to your rented apartment. Thank the higher powers for that natural runner’s high that will eventually boost your spirits.
Toronto Island: Adventure Run
Use the Centre Island ferry ride over to warm up and stretch so you’re ready to run as soon as the platform lowers. Take off down the Avenue of the Island (romantic) all the way until you hit Lakeshore and then head left towards Ward’s Island. Careful on the boardwalk (it can be a little uneven). This side of the island is usually not that busy, so feel free to sing along with your iPod. Keep wrapping around the point and cut back through the residential area of the island. Wish that you, too, lived on the island upon seeing the idyllic little homes. Connect back to Cibola Ave. and finish in front of the Rectory. Grab an iced tea and wait for the Ward Island Ferry to take you back to the Big Smoke.
Financial District: Ghost-town Sprint
Save this run for a morning on Saturday or Sunday for full effect. Start off at Victoria Memorial Park and run east on Wellington, straight past all the empty office towers. Keep going until you hit Church then loop up and back via King St. Imagine you’re in The Walking Dead and there are zombies hiding in the eerily quiet buildings. Run faster. Keep sprinting until you start to see city life again. Whip down Portland, back to the park. You survived!