Top 5 Rides Near Toronto
Collingwood and Thornbury are destination towns for anybody seeking outdoor adventure in Southern Ontario. A two-hour drive north of Toronto, both towns serve as ideal starting points for a day of riding up and down the Niagara Escarpment. The proximity to Georgian Bay allows for incredible views, but also big winds – come prepared for all weather when you ride in Grey and Simcoe County!
RIDE 1: Thornbury - The Town
This ride is recommended by our ambassador Tierney Courage.
Thornbury is a small town located on the shores of Georgian Bay. With thriving shops and an impressive restaurant scene, it’s a popular destination for weekenders and is beloved by locals.
✻ Intermediate ride: Approximately 2 hours
✻ Distance: 51 km
✻ Elevation: 482 m
✻ Start & End: Downtown Thornbury; Public Parking Lot (Hester Street & Highway 26)
Start from the parking lot off Bruce Street and follow a ride that climbs gently through the Beaver Valley. This ride heads north again from Kimberley, another well-loved village. Stop at the Kimberley General Store for snacks mid-ride if required. A long and gradual step climb out of the escarpment brings you to the top of the Epping Hill; catch your breath and roll into the John Muir lookout for a panorama of the region. Head back towards Thornbury while taking in more impressive views from the top of the 4th Line; the combination of water and elevation is hard to find in central Canada.
Post ride, check out Good Grief for top-quality coffee, the Bodega at Bruce Wine Bar for lunch takeaway, or Pom-Pom Treat Hut for delicious and inspired ice cream. Thornbury Village Cidery is also an excellent option for a pint.
RIDE 2: Collingwood - The Town
Credits: Jody Wilson
Also recommended by Tierney Courage, Collingwood provides a slightly larger and more bustling alternative to Thornbury. A long main street of shops and attractions offer an excellent addition to the trip. It also offers gorgeous riding, this time more south-east.
✻ Intermediate long Ride: 2.5-3.5 hours
✻ Distance: 77.5 km
✻ Elevation: 782 m
✻ Start & End: Fischer Fields (3057 Concession 10 N Nottawasaga Rd, Collingwood, ON)
Ride south out of Collingwood starts flat and rolls into hills as you climb up Fairgrounds Road and towards the town of Creemore. A large sweeping downhill brings you into town, where I’d suggest stopping at Creemore Bakery & Café for a coffee and a donut mid-ride, before following the river and climbing back up the escarpment into Badjeros. From here you’ll take quiet country roads into the Pretty River Valley which wind back down towards Collingwood. For a more gradual ride you could reverse the route and start climbing out of Pretty River.
When you’re finished, Collingwood offers many options for post-ride refreshment. Summit Social House and Gibson & Co. have excellent coffee and pastries. Collingwood is also home to a number of microbreweries if a post-ride beer is more your thing. Sidelaunch and Northwinds are local favourites, and both have bottle shops open during Covid. High Wheel Cyclery also offers best in the business tune-ups (by appointment) if you’re in the area for a longer stay.
RIDE 3: The Martin Goodman Trail
Probably the most iconic ride in Toronto, the Martin Goodman Trail, also known as the Waterfront Trail, is a beautiful paved trail between the lake and downtown Toronto. Also a fun one to do with kids!
✻ Easy ride
✻ Distance: 30.6 km
✻ Elevation: 119 m
✻ Start & End: There are a few parking lots along the trail so park wherever there is space and ride back and forth.
The fun part of this trail is that it is right next to downtown Toronto, so no matter where you park, you can easily find an ice-cream parlour or a bar for a well deserved after-ride treat.
RIDE 4: The Zoo Loop
This accessible loop in the eastern part of Toronto passes through the scenic Rouge Park and by some of the last remaining farmland in the city. The Toronto Outdoor Club also describes it as some of the most spectacular cycling in the city. Try it and let us know what you think!
✻ Easy, intermediate ride
✻ Distance: 40 km
✻ Elevation: 191 m
Since this ride is a loop, your after-ride treat depends on where you start!
RIDE 5: The Greater Niagara Circle Route
Decided to spend some time at Niagara Falls? Don’t forget your bike! Many trails, differing in difficulty and length, are nice and paved in the region. The Greater Niagara Circle Loop is a long ride crossing many cities and picturesque villages. Take the time to pause for a nice fresh market lunch and a beer, or a refreshing swim somewhere along the trail. This idyllic loop will leave you satisfied and hungry for more.
✻ Intermediate long ride
✻ Distance: 140 km
✻ Elevation: 168 m
Plan to stop in one of the region’s vineyards for an Italian-style after-ride.