Trails Near Toronto For Families With Young Kids
Canada is full of beautiful green spaces and luckily many are located within easy reach of our urban areas. If you live in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and have young kids, you’ll be happy to note that there are tons of amazing day hiking options near you.
As a mom of three kids, I know how important it is to find safe and interesting outdoor spaces to keep our family active. We are always searching for great spots to explore that will be fun for the older kids while still being manageable for our youngest, who will be five this summer. As he gets older and becomes even more confident on trails, we will continue to push our boundaries and explore more challenging trails.
If you are a family with young kids looking to explore new trails this summer, read on for our list of family-friendly options close to Toronto. Happy hiking!
Family-friendly Hiking Trails Near Toronto
With nearly 6 million residents, the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is Canada’s largest urban centre. But that doesn’t mean that its hard to find green spaces nearby. In fact, southern Ontario has a ton of great family-friendly hiking options within an hour or two of the GTA. Here are a few of our favourites:
Island Lake Conservation Area
Located at the headwaters of the Credit River in Orangeville (about an hour from Toronto), the Island Lake Conservation Area offers great, stroller-friendly trails that can be enjoyed by the whole family. The Vicki Barron Lakeside Trail circles Island Lake and has lots of fun bridges and scenic lookouts but at 8 km, may be too long for some families (although it is stroller-friendly). There are four other shorter trails available at the park, including two that can accommodate strollers: the 1-km Island Lake Family Trail and the 1.2-km Hockley Trail.
Rouge National Urban Park
If you’ve never visited Toronto’s Rouge National Urban Park, make 2022 the year you explore it! This pretty nature park in the city’s east end has tons of hiking opportunities and is a great place to experience nature right in Toronto. There are plenty of easy trails, such as the Rouge Marsh Trail that takes you to the largest remaining wetland in the city, or the Glen Eagles Vista Trail that offers views of the Rouge River and the Little Rouge Creek.
Mono Cliffs Provincial Park
Mono Cliffs Provincial Park is a popular day use park located just north of Caledon (approximately 1-1.5 hours from Toronto). And while it can get quite busy on weekends, it is a beautiful location on the Bruce Trail with numerous hiking options so it is worth considering especially if you are heading out on a weekday. Be sure to prebook a day use pass (Daily Vehicle Permit) with Ontario Parks to ensure entrance. It is easy to do — just visit the Ontario Parks reservation page and click on the Day Use section. Choose “Daily Vehicle Permit” and pick your park. Permits can be purchased up to 5 days in advance. They sell out fast on summer weekends, so be prepared.
Keep in mind that to access any of the trails at the park, you’ll first need to walk the 1.3 km Carriage Trail. If you have very young children, plan on a snack break at the end of this walk before heading towards one of the other trails in the park.
As a side note: this park allows horseback riding so if your kids love horses as much as my daughter does, they might just get to see them here!
Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area
Just west of Toronto in Milton is the Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area, which has nice hiking options along the Niagara Escarpment. In order to visit, you must book a reservation through Conservation Halton. This is an easy process as you just need to visit the booking site, choose your date and location and pay the park fee.
Rattlesnake Point has 10 km of trails, with some stellar lookouts over the escarpment. The shortest is the easy 1.3-km Vista Adventure Trail loop, which offers a pleasant walk on a shady trail and has some beautiful views over the limestone cliffs. For a slightly longer walk, try the 3.2-km Buffalo Crag Lookout loop trail. You might even get a chance to see rock climbers scaling the escarpment.
Awenda Provincial Park
A little further from Toronto (approximately 2-2.5 hours) is the pretty and popular Awenda Provincial Park. A great spot to camp with kids, Awenda also makes for a good day trip. Located on the shores of Georgian Bay, the park has 31 km of forested trails. The Beach Trail is a 4-km hike along the Georgian Bay shoreline and families might enjoy stopping for some beach time along the way. Or try the easy 1-km Beaver Pond Trail, which is barrier-free along a boardwalk. The park has several other wonderful trails for easy- and moderate-level hikers.
Hiking in Uxbridge
Located northeast of Toronto, Uxbridge has some incredible trail options for hikers of all ages — in fact, the town is known as the “Trail Capital of Canada”. Many trails were affected by a severe storm in 2022 but are back in use. Visit Uxbridge Trails for detailed information of what’s available, such as the scenic Countryside Preserve and Durham Forest.
For more hiking ideas in Ontario, read our 5 Winter Hikes To Try This Weekend In Southern Ontario — they are amazing in the summer too! — as well as our article on Family-friendly Trails Near London.