Snowshoeing in Toronto: The Best Winter Hiking Near Toronto

Snowshoeing in Toronto

There are lots of places to go snowshoeing in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area that will keep you active and outdoors all winter long. Toronto winter hiking opportunities are plentiful, whether you wear sturdy hiking boots or a pair of snowshoes. You’ll find that snowshoes will help you trek through deep snow and even navigate some icy conditions. Most modern snowshoes will have metal crampons on the bottom that will help you stay upright on slippery and snowy trails.

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According to Ontario Heritage Trust, snowshoes have been used for at least 10,000 to 16,000 years. It is believed that snowshoes were used during the ancient migrations across the Bering Strait from eastern Siberia to Canada. Samuel de Champlain provided the first written record of snowshoes, noting that the First Nations used them to traverse across deep snow. Nowadays, people use snowshoes for practical reasons and outdoor recreation to go hiking in the winter.

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Snowshoeing in Toronto: The Top Spots

There are so many great places to go snowshoeing in Toronto. Many hiking trails and paths are relatively flat, they’re frequented often, and they might even be properly groomed. While I’m sure you’ll encounter more snowshoe trails beyond these ones, this is a great place to start if you’re looking to go snowshoeing in Toronto. Most of these trails are great for beginners, too!

Rouge Urban National Park

Rouge National Urban Park is Canada’s first national urban park, and it’s a unique wilderness setting in the capital city of the province. It combines amazing biodiversity and natural landscapes with history and culture of the area. You’ll find Toronto’s only campground, vast marshes, a sandy beach, Carolinian forest, and some of Canada’s oldest Indigenous sites.

There are numerous hiking trails at Rouge Park, and you can easily go snowshoeing on any of them. You’ll need to return to Rouge Park multiple times to trek all of its trails. This park is perfect all year long for memorable moments in nature. It’s one of the top places to go snowshoeing in Toronto.

Cedarvale Ravine and the Beltline

Cedarvale Ravine and the Beltline Trail are fabulous spots to go snowshoeing in Toronto. The Beltline Trail is 9km long, and it’s an old rail bed across midtown Toronto repurposed as a hiking trail. As it’s a pretty flat path the whole way, it is a great winter hiking and snowshoeing spot.

On one end of the trail, you can hike or snowshoe into Cedarvale Ravine Park where you’ll also find an outdoor skating rink. On the opposite end of the trail, you can go snowshoeing at Moore Park Ravine and Evergreen Brickworks.

High Park

High Park is one of the prettiest places in Toronto, and there are lots of trails to explore, too. You might think of High Park as the place to see the cherry blossoms come into bloom in the spring. Well, High Park is a great destination all year long, including the winter. The park covers several city blocks, and it’s Toronto’s mini version of Central Park.

You can go snowshoeing at High Park in the winter. There are lots of forests and wooded areas where you’ll feel far removed from city living. Bring your snowshoes and hit the trails, whether you’re walking the High Park Area Trail (a 5km loop trail around the edge of the park) or discovering the interconnected pathways throughout this green space.

Tommy Thompson Park

The Leslie Street Spit Trail at Tommy Thompson Park is one of the top Toronto hiking trails. The entire loop trail is about 11km in length, and you can witness spectacular city skyline views from the tip of Leslie Spit. It’s one of the best spots to go snowshoeing in Toronto. You’ll have to own your own snowshoes as there aren’t any rentals available here.

Toronto Island Park

Snowshoeing in Toronto and the GTA

Making the trip from the mainland to the Toronto Islands is such a treat in the winter. It’s so quiet and peaceful, though you will have to bundle up because it will feel chillier than in the city. Take the ferry from Toronto to Ward’s Island. From there, you can snowshoe all the way to Centre Island and back.

In the winter, there are limited food options, as well as only a few public restrooms. Also, pay attention to the ferry schedule as you don’t want to be left stranded. Otherwise, bring your snowshoes and have a blast!

Snowshoeing at City Owned Golf Courses

There are five golf courses that are owned by the City of Toronto: Dentonia, Don Valley, Humber Valley, Scarlett Woods, and Tam O’Shanter. In the winter, the city transforms these unused golf courses into places with snow loops. Venture out on these snowshoe loop trails for a bit of winter fun.

Don Valley Ravine Trails

The Don Valley has so many excellent hiking trails with beautiful scenery all around. This area looks equally as stunning in the winter months, too. There are several Don Valley trails to explore, including Crothers Woods, Cottonwood Flats, Sun Valley, and many more. It’s no surprise that these trails offer fantastic opportunities to go snowshoeing in Toronto, too.

Snowshoeing in Peel Region (Mississauga, Brampton)

Winter hiking

There are no shortage of fantastic winter hiking and snowshoeing trails in Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, and beyond. These are the best snowshoeing paths in Peel Region to venture out for a snowy adventure.

Lakeview Golf Course

As of 2021, this is a brand new place to go snowshoeing in Toronto and the GTA. The City of Mississauga is creating walking and snowshoeing trails at the Lakeview Golf Course on Dixie Road. We don’t have all of the details just yet, but you can expect to be able to go snowshoeing there this winter.

Etobicoke Creek Trail

The Etobicoke Creek Trail in Mississauga and Brampton is one of the best places to go hiking in Mississauga. It should come as no surprise that it offers some of the best snowshoeing in Toronto and the GTA. It is a relatively flat path that’s 36km in length.

There are two sections of the Etobicoke Creek Trail: one starts at Marie Curtis Park on Lake Ontario and extends to the QEW. The other section starts north of Dundas Street (east of Dixie Rd) and continues north beyond the airport and far into Brampton. Strap on your snowshoes and see how much of this trail you can tackle.

Chinguacousy Park

Chinguacousy Park in Brampton has a snowshoeing trail and a cross-country skiing trail every winter. You can access these trails from the Sandra Hames Centre Parking Lot (Bramalea and Goodwood entrance). There’s also an ice skating trail at Chinguacousy Park, too. You will need to bring your own snowshoes or skis as there aren’t any rentals available.

Albion Hills Conservation Park

Albion Hills Conservation Park is managed by the TRCA and has outdoor activities to keep you entertained all year long. In the winter, there is a separate winter trail map with a variety of outdoor adventures: cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, skate skiing, tobogganing, and fat biking. It is one of the best places to go snowshoeing in Toronto / the GTA.

While there are numerous multi-purpose trails, there is the “Black Trail System” in the wintertime for snowshoeing, fat biking, and skate skiing. Three loop trails are available: the short loop (1.3km), the medium loop (2.7km), and the long loop (4.2km). Those hiking or wearing snowshoes must follow the trail markers as to not venture off the path.

Palgrave Forest and Wildlife Area

The Palgrave Forest and Wildlife Area is a 306 hectare property in the town of Caledon, managed by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). It is a passive use property that the public can use all year long. Palgrave Forest and Wildlife Area is a stunning area on the Oak Ridges Moraine that supports a high diversity of flora and fauna in its forests and wetlands.

There are three hiking trails on the property: the Oak Ridges Trail (5.5km), a small section of the Bruce Trail (2.9km) and the Palgrave Trail (13.4km). Essentially, any trails that aren’t the Oak Ridges Trail or the Bruce Trail are parts of the Palgrave Trail, which has many interconnecting paths. It’s a great place to go snowshoeing in the winter. There aren’t any snowshoe rentals at Palgrave Forest, but the conditions are wonderful for snowshoeing once there’s enough snow.

Snowshoeing in Halton Region

Snowshoeing in Halton Region

There are lots of great places to go snowshoeing in Toronto and Halton region. Here are a few suggestions that have flat and easy paths for winter outdoor fun. Some of these spots will have snowshoe rentals. I do recommend that you pick up your own pair if you plan to hit the trails even just a couple of times this winter.

Bronte Creek Provincial Park

Bronte Creek Provincial Park is the closest provincial park to Toronto, and you can explore all of its hiking trails via snowshoe. There’s also a thrilling toboggan hill and about 10km of cross-country skiing trails. You’ll need to bring your own snowshoes as there aren’t any rentals at the park.

There are five winter hiking trails in total: Maiden’s Blush Trail (1km), Trillium Trail (1km), Ravine Trail (2.7km), Gateway Trail (1.5km), and the Halfmoon Valley Trail (2km). There are also a couple of leash free hiking trails for your dog at Bronte Creek Provincial Park, too. You will need to keep your dog on a leash on all of the regular trails, however.

Crawford Lake Conservation Area

Crawford Lake Conservation Area boasts 19km of hiking trails on five separate paths, including an elevated boardwalk that extends around the perimetre of a meromictic lake. Four Crawford Lake trails stay within the boundaries of the park, and one meanders outside of the park for a lengthier journey. In addition to the five Crawford Lake hiking paths, the Bruce Trail winds through the property, joining with the Nassagaweya Trail on the outskirts of the conservation area. 

In the wintertime, there are 8.5km of snowshoe trails rated as either easy or moderate. The Snowshoe Trail is 3.4km and the trail has a snowshoe marker. The Pine Ridge Trail is 3.6km and has green trail blazes. And the Woodland Trail is 1.5km and has red trail blazes. You can rent snowshoes at Crawford Lake Conservation Area, too.

Mountsberg Conservation Area

There are two snowshoe trails across 7.2km at Mountsberg Conservation Area. The Wildlife Walkway trail is 1.6km and rated as easy, while the Lakeshore Lookout Trail is 5.6km and rated as moderate. There aren’t any snowshoe rentals at Mountsberg, so you’ll need to bring your own pair. After you finish snowshoeing, stop by the Raptor Centre to catch glimpses of local birds of prey that are rescued and rehabilitated by the centre.

Hilton Falls Conservation Area

Hilton Falls Conservation Area is a fantastic place to go snowshoeing with the whole family as it’s suitable for beginners to the sport. There are three main hiking trails: the Hilton Falls Trail (3km), the Red Oak Trail (4km), and the Beaver Dam Trail (8km). These all happen to be fantastic snowshoe trails, too!

These trails are groomed and you will be sharing them with hikers and cross-country skiers. Be sure not to walk on the ski tracks. It’s best to keep off to the side of the path if you’re wearing snowshoes. The Beaver Dam Trail is a little more difficult than the other paths. I suggest starting on the Hilton Falls Trail if you’ve got young kids or you’re new to snowshoeing.

Terra Cotta Conservation Area

Terra Cotta Conservation Area has numerous hiking trails that offer some of the best snowshoeing near Toronto. There are groomed trails and ungroomed trails at the park in the winter. Both the groomed trails and the ungroomed trails are suitable for snowshoeing and winter hiking. You’ll want to stick to the groomed trails if you’re cross-country skiing.

Terra Cotta Conservation Area has both snowshoe rentals and cross-country skis for rent. You are welcome to go snowshoeing on the groomed hiking trails, but please keep in mind that these are used by skiers. Please stay off to the side while snowshoeing or stick to the ungroomed trails for your winter adventures.

It’s also possible to go snowshoeing at other Credit Valley Conservation properties, like Silver Creek Conservation Area, Upper Credit Conservation Area, and the Elora Cataract Trailway. However, they do not offer snowshoe rentals at these parks, so you’ll need to bring your own.

Snowshoeing in York, Durham and Headwaters

Winter hikes in the forest

Here are the best places to go snowshoeing in the York, Durham, and Headwaters Region. Of course, there are lots of other places you can go snowshoeing in Toronto and this section of the GTA. These are my top recommendations based on a few factors: snowshoe rentals may be offered, the trails might be groomed for snowshoeing, or they’re relatively flat without too big of an elevation change.

Cold Creek Conservation Area

Cold Creek Conservation Area protects an ecologically diverse region within the Humber River watershed. The park opened in 1962, and it’s managed by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). It’s 190 hectares in total, and contains a wide variety of flora and fauna that are unique and rare to the region. There’s a mixed conifer forest that includes black spruce, seldom found in southern Ontario.

There are over 7km of trails, including the main outer loop trail (6.6km). Follow the yellow trail markers for the main loop and the red markers for several interconnecting paths in case you’d like a shorter hike.

Cold Creek Conservation Area offers snowshoe equipment rentals if you don’t have your own pair. They will only be available if there is over 15cm of snow on the ground along with proper trail conditions. You must pre-register your snowshoe rentals (no drop-ins allowed). They also rent out cross-country skis, too.

Kortright Centre for Conservation

The Kortright Centre is a fabulous place to go winter hiking and snowshoeing in Toronto. There are more than 16km of amazing trails that you can explore all year round. Forests, meadows, wetlands – Kortright has got it all. To go snowshoeing at Kortright, you’ll need to book a timed ticket on their website to access the park. You’ll also need to bring your own snowshoes.

Greenwood Conservation Area

Greenwood Conservation Area is situated on the banks of Duffins Creek, and it’s part of both Pickering and Ajax. The Great Trail (Trans Canada Trail) is one path that meanders through the park. There’s also a bunch of interconnecting paths called the Greenwood Trails. You can go hiking and snowshoeing throughout the conservation area. Bring your own snowshoes to Greenwood Conservation Area.

Ganaraska Forest

The Ganaraska Forest spans 11,000 acres and it is one of the largest forested areas in southern Ontario. There are numerous trails for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. In the winter, there are two specific snowshoe trails: a short snowshoe trail (2.5km) and a long snowshoe trail (8km). There are also 35km of groomed cross-country skiing trails.

Typically, there are snowshoe and cross-country ski rentals at the Ganaraska Forest Centre. Please note that these will not be offered for the 2020/2021 winter season, but will hopefully resume in the years to come.

Island Lake Conservation Area

Island Lake Conservation Area offers beautiful trails surrounding a reservoir in Orangeville, Ontario. The main hiking trail is the Vicki Barron Lakeside Trail, and the full loop is around 8km. There are also several shorter trails that extend off the Vicki Barron Lakeside Trail. All of these trails are suitable for winter hikes and snowshoeing.

There are snowshoe rentals at Island Lake Conservation Area that you can rent in advance by the day. Depending on how much snow is on the ground, you may not need to rent snowshoes. Winter boots could be just fine as most of the trail travels across boardwalks and relatively flat forest paths. If there is deep snow, consider bringing snowshoes or renting a pair.

What to Bring on a Winter Hiking Trip

What to bring on a winter hike

Your packing list for a winter hiking trip will look much different than one in the summer! Here are some important things to consider bringing with you on a winter day hike.

If you’re hiking in the winter season, feel free to take a look at more winter hiking blog posts. I’ve also prepared a list of the best places to go hiking in the winter in Ontario.

Where to Stay in Toronto

Are you looking for where to stay in Toronto? There are so many amazing Toronto hotels and Airbnb accommodations so you can be close to the city or close to the trails.

Here’s a handy booking tool where you can see all of the accommodations and Airbnbs in one place. It’s easy to compare prices and find the best rate for your trip to Toronto.

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