When completed, Sunnyside Bike Park promises to be the crown jewel of the growing number of proposed bike parks within Toronto. The Park is a huge step forward by the City in providing a facility that encourages not only self-directed outdoor recreation, but also the development of off road riding skills. In an age when we are seeking options to engage all ages of people in active outdoor activities Sunnyside stands out as a perfect example of what can be done.
After a series of discussions with various stakeholder groups world renown Bike Park designer and builder, Jay Hoots, was commissioned in 2012 to draw up plans for a vacant piece of land at the corner Ellis Ave. and Lakeshore Blvd. which was slated to become the site of Toronto’s first Bike Skills Park. Fast forward to late Spring of 2014 and we have Phase 1 of the Skills Park complete and open for riding.
The genius of Sunnyside is how it was designed to cater to a wide variety of riders as well as their potential spectators. Using handpicked logs reclaimed after the Ice Storm in 2013 as well as soil from a local condominium excavation Hoots crafted a Skills Park that welcomes beginners while also providing features that challenge veteran riders. In addition to riding features, when completed, the Park will be home to a family meeting and picnic area, drop off zone, washrooms/ change facilities and the potential of a retail space. Surrounding the Park a functional yet unobtrusive cedar fence that keeps even the youngest Little Rippers contained and safe from the bustling Lakeshore traffic. The combination of both riding and chilling options provides a space that can be enjoyed by the entire community.
Phase 1 of Sunnyside boasts an impressive list of features for a variety of riders. The mantra ‘run what ya’ brung’ certainly applies at the Park and it is not uncommon to see everything from run bikes to BMXs to full on DH rigs enjoying what the park has to offer. Should you be arriving by car, parking can be found on the South of Lakeshore in one of two lots, one East and one West of Ellis Avenue. The lots are both pay parking, but check the meter, as depending on the time and day it can be free. From either lot you should easily be able to find the Martin Goodman Trail (a great option if riding to the Park) where you can make your way to the crosswalk at the end of Ellis Ave. Exercise caution while crossing to the North side of Lakeshore as it is an extremely busy road where vehicles tend to travel at a high rate of speed. Phase 2 of the construction promises a drop off area right at the Park but will still require parking on the South side of Lakeshore. An added bonus is that there are no user fees associated with the Park.
Jay Hoots’ wealth of Bike Park experience shines through in the thoughtful layout which creates a Park that offers something for every level of rider. All features are well marked with rating symbols, similar to skiing, which delineate the level of difficulty and skill required. Perhaps the two features that show this commitment to skills development best are the pump tracks and ‘skinnies’. The Park plays host to three separate pump tracks ranging from a beginner level track, with miniature berms and rollers, to a challenging full sized track that requires a certain level of skill to successfully navigate without pedalling. The third track, and perhaps most interesting, is an all weather, modular track that provides an engaging challenge for beginners right up to seasoned riders.
Under the shade of several existing trees, which were incorporated in to the Park, is a maze of skinnies that range from wider beginner tracks to thin, or elevated lines, that provide a challenge for more experience riders. The beauty of these features is that they are all intertwined allowing riders of all skill levels to ride in the same area, again enhancing the community feel of the park. The wooden features are accentuated with several well placed rocks that provide an added challenge and a bit of height to the intermediate lines. Between the pump tracks and the skinnies are two smaller log over features useful for practicing these skills for use on trails.
Perhaps the most distinguishing aspect, and certainly the most eye-catching, is the large start hill found at the centre of the park. Visible from both the Gardiner Expressway and Lakeshore Blvd. the impressive start hill services two sets of jumps and a series of drops. Off the West side of the start hill are a set of drops that progress from a modest Green to challenging Double Black. Once again, these drops have been well thought out increasing in difficulty as you move up the hill. Incorporated into the more advanced drops (black and double black) are a series of gapped jumps with the option of a wall ride to round out the run if desired. These are no doubt the most challenging lines in the park and as such should be ridden which the appropriate amount of skill.
On the East side of the start hill are a set of progressively larger table jumps. Each jump line is formed by a set of three consecutive hits which finish with a return berm sending you back up to the start hill where you can do it all again. Continuing with the theme of being though out the jump lines are laid out in a logical fashion progressing in difficulty as you move North.
Currently there is no drinking water available at the site, so you will need to bring your own. Should you get a little peckish while you are at the Park there are a few concession stands on the South side that serve up various fare – however, at off times (midweek) and off season they have spotty hours a best so don’t bank on them. During the summer months you can usually bet on at least an ice cream truck in the parking lot. As for washroom facilities, a Portable toilet currently graces the site and can be found near the entrance. Also of note, should you have members of your party who are not as entertained by riding endeavours there is a play structure and wading pool (summer only) on the South side of Lakeshore. Just North of Sunnyside is High Park which is another option non-riding clientele or a quick visit after Sunnyside – here you can enjoy a slew of activities including walking trails, gardens, historic building and even a small zoo. Within a ten minute walk of the Bike Park there is something for everyone.
Sunnyside Bike Park is a much needed, and proving to be well used, recreational facility by a wide range of community members. Both dedicated cycling enthusiast and the general public will find Sunnyside Bike Park a worthwhile destination. It fills the void of unstructured recreational spaces where we can all just play, plain and simple, play. As the Park continues to grow as a facility it will no doubt become one of the more important recreational hubs in the city.
Guidelines and rules for the park are posted at the entrance but a few notables are:
- Helmets are MANDATORY
- Protective gear is recommended
- DO NOT ride when it is wet or shortly after a rainfall
- Ride within your limits
- Park is open from dawn to dusk
- Be mindful of where you stop – do not obstruct features
- DO NOT alter features and report damaged or unsafe conditions
- RESPECT THE PARK AND OTHER USERS
For up-to-date information or to ask questions about the park, please visit the Sunnyside Bike Park forum: https://www.ridingfeelsgood.com/forum/riding/greater-toronto-area/sunnyside-bike-park/
|Trail Level||Beginner to Expert|
|Trail Type||Dirt / modular pump track, dirt jump (gap), wall ride, drops, table tops and log overs|
|Trail Map||Sunnyside Bike Park Map|
|GPS||Latitude : 43.636743|
|Name||City of Toronto|
|HOURS / SEASONS|
|Hours of Operation||7 days a week|
|Season||Dawn until dusk|
Spring to late fall
Riding Feels Good has compiled this information and ensured its accuracy to the best our ability at the time of posting (see date at top). We recommend contacting the facilities directly prior to a ride to ensure it is up to date. We will do our best to update it as regularly as possible but rely on users like you to monitor it and provide corrections and any additional information.
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