Best Cycling and Hiking Routes in the Greenbelt to Help You Take Care of Your Mental Health

As Toronto enters the summer, prioritizing mental and physical well-being is crucial. A recent survey by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and the University of British Columbia (UBC) revealed that 40 percent of Canadians reported a decline in their mental health since the onset of the pandemic.

Engaging in outdoor activities such as hiking, jogging, cycling, or gentle stretching can contribute to an enhanced immune system, increased Vitamin D intake, reduced anxiety, improved sleep, and heightened self-esteem.

Fortunately, Toronto has the Greenbelt which was established in 2005 to safeguard vital farmland and delicate natural ecosystems surrounding the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

If you’re interested in cycling and hiking, then these 4 spots in the Greenbelt are worth exploring:

Don River Brick Works Park

Evergreen Brick Works which is located in a former quarry within the Don Valley is part of a rejuvenated park that has become one of Toronto’s top tourist destinations. This revitalized park boasts a diverse array of birds and wildlife, thriving within the restored ecosystem.

Here, you can explore picturesque natural sites, hike along trails, and traverse boardwalks overlooking beautifully restored wetlands.

Moreover, the park is easily accessible by foot, bicycle, car, or public transit (TTC), making it a convenient starting point for exploring trails both north and south along the Don River.

Greenbelt Route

The Greenbelt Route spans 475 kilometers of scenic and protected countryside, stretching from Northumberland to Niagara.

This cycling route winds through iconic landscapes, including the picturesque Oak Ridges Moraine. Along the way, cyclists will encounter lush, forested areas, rolling multicolored agricultural land, and vibrant rural communities.

The route accommodates cyclists of all skill levels and offers family-friendly options like the Caledon Trailway, as well as more challenging climbs such as those on the Niagara Escarpment.

That said, completing the entire route typically takes six or more days. So if you’re up for it, doing so will provide you with memorable experiences, especially if you’re a cycling enthusiast.

Rouge National Urban Park

As the largest park in North America, Rouge National Urban Park encompasses nearly 80 square kilometers between Lake Ontario and the Oak Ridges Moraine.

This notable national park within a city boasts a diverse ecosystem with over 1,700 species of lush plants and animals, including 27 species at risk. Currently, the Waterfront Generation Trust is collaborating with Parks Canada on initiatives such as a new visitor and education center, as well as trail and beach improvements within the park.

Accessible year-round, the park has multiple entry points reachable by car, train, bus, subway, bike, and even canoe.

West Humber River Recreational Trail

The last one we have is the West Humber Trail which spans 19 kilometers from Brampton’s Claireville Conservation Area into Rexdale.

The trail offers a paved route that follows the heritage West Humber River. It’s also open year-round to both pedestrians and cyclists, and since it’s within the Urban River Valleys, it can provide a protected urban habitat for various native plants and wildlife.

Whether you seek a scenic route for your daily exercise or a tranquil space for mindfulness, the West Humber Trail is an accessible option.

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