There’s nothing that really stops dog lovers from getting outdoors all year round. We took a look at exploring more green spaces in and around the city that are not only fun and safe for our dogs, but scenic for us as well.
We asked some of our furry friends and their families to give us their favourite go-to spots to take the dogs for a little hike or extended walk. If you have any other favourites, let us know!
Evergreen Brick Works and Don River Trail: (550 Bayview Avenue) . It’s hard to believe this open space is right in the heart of the city. Trails take you through the former quarry and industrial space across bridges and under roadways that’s breathtaking. There always seems to be something happening in the main areas including weekend farmer’s markets, public art installations and a children’s garden. Across the street you can take the trail along the Don River (Entrance just off of Pottery Road).
Sherwood Park: (190 Sherwood Park near Mount Pleasant) This midtown park is very dog-friendly with tree-lined trails along a river stream that runs through it. Dogs can roam in the fenced area off-leash once inside designated areas in the picturesque park.
Trillium Park and the William G. Davis trails at Ontario Place: (955 Lakeshore Blvd West) This 7.5 acre public green space meanders along the waterfront lined with thousands of native trees, beautiful boulders and designed in consultation with the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation. Plaques along the trail offer insightful information on the landscape. Look for Marker Trees – Indigenous People historically used these for navigation. It’s a beautiful space that offers a breathtaking view of the city’s skyline too.
Humber Bay Park: (2225 Lakeshore Blvd. West) Actually splits into two East and West. The West park is narrow and juts out into the water and has an off-leash area for dogs to play. Epic view of the city’s skyline too. Loop around to the East park area for a great day of hiking and exploring.
Toronto Islands: Centre Island is located right between Hanlan’s Point and Ward’s Island. Just a short ferry ride is home to a few lucky Torontonians but it’s also a major tourist destination. But if bypass the amusement park and you’ll find a day’s worth of scenic walks in quieter areas. In the late 1800s the Islands is where the wealthy families in the city retreated to their “summer homes” here. Best to take the Ferry to the islands points on either end and walk your way towards Centre Island. Note Ferry schedule.
Sunnybrook Park: (1132 Leslie Street) This former 154 hectare country estate once owned by the Kilgour family still has a farm and stable on site. Walking along the pathways is lovely early morning and this park also includes a designated off-leash dog park area. The fenced in area also has a section created for smaller dogs and another for average to larger dogs.
Downsview Park: (70 Canuck Avenue) Still a developing area for recreational and educational uses this vast park offers hundreds of years of heritage. Nature Paths lead you through peaceful wooded areas and vast open spaces. Boake’s Grove is where you’ll find plenty of silver maple and walnut trees.
The Beaches: (Woodbine/Queen Street East) several beaches to enjoy including Cherry Beach, Woodbine Beach, Ashbridges Bay, Lewty Beach and Kew- Balmy Beach, Nothing like a day at the beach and dogs are welcome! Yes, take in the sunny lake views along the boardwalk and let doggo enjoy running and splashing around designated dog areas as well.
Scarborough Bluffs: Overall the area boasts 11 parks along 15 km. Bluffer’s Park (1 Brimley Road South) was designed to for public use and the most popular. It’s a manageable size park along the lake with a beach offers dog lovers an open space to keep an eye on furry friends. Cudia Park is pretty with hiking trails but no access to the water.
High Park: (1873 Bloor Street West) More than just cherry blossoms, this large park area is great for picnics and local dog-friendly meetups throughout the year. Considered a jewel in the city, the park there are designated off-leash areas. Spring Cree and West Ravine nature trails take you through clearly marked paths through the natural forest.
Tips on getting ready for walks in the parks:
Heading outdoors means it’s time to understand what’s at risk, even in the city. Check with your vet about flea and tick season (generally May to November) and what are the most effective ways of preventing the little buggers from pestering your furry friend. Check for the tiny hitch-hikers after every walk even through tall grass and wooded areas in the city. Also check for park and city websites for any warnings including water safety levels at city beaches, coyote sightings, and pest control spraying.
Ensure you have proper gear especially shoes – spring season leads to different terrains like mossy hills and wet rocks that you may encounter. Proper fitting shoes are important. Technica launched an in-store customized hiking shoe just in time for the summer season – in less than 20 minutes you have proper form fitted shoes complete with Vibram grip. Make sure you’re covered as well with legs and arms properly covered.
Off-leash parks – make sure your dog registered with the city and respect the areas where you can go off-leash. Fines are upwards of $250 if you let Rover run off-leash before the designated area, even mere steps away.
Don’t forget water and snacks for you and for your dog! We recently tried the new CLIF Fruit Smoothie bars. This energy bar is made with organic ingredients with cashew, sunflower seed butters and organic dried fruit and fruit juices. They score high on the taste scale too.
Pack your gear and keeps hands free – backpacks, fanny packs are choice to keep everything handy. Fjällräven Canada line of backpacks aims to make the outdoors more accessible to everyone and respecting animals and nature is ingrained in the company’s mission statement. And have your phone charged up and have an extra battery back up not just for photo opps but just in case of emergencies.
If you’re taking a road trip it’s also a good idea to have a “Pet First Aid Kit” handy just in case. Kurgo is one we found at PetSmart Canada that has all the essentials for fast emergency needs.