Wedged in between Toronto and Mississauga the Etobicoke Creek is a hidden gem in the middle of a vast urban environment. According to local lore these trails were originally carved out by motocross riders and 4×4’s in the 1970’s and likely got their start as game trails long before that. Today, the Etobicoke Creek trails are classic technical single track that wind their way along a ribbon of dirt that essentially runs from the lake to the 401.
The trail is easily accessible from Marie Curtis Park at its Southern terminus. There is ample parking along with connections from GO, TTC and Mississauga Transit at the Long Branch station. A quick warm up along the paved multi-use path heading North prepares you for the dirt single track that awaits. There are several minor dirt side trails that cut off and rejoin the paved path as you head North, watch out for them on either side. Linking them together is rather simple and after a few rides on the trail you can likely cut out almost all of the paved trail in this section. However, the real fun begins after passing under the bridge that spans the Creek at the QEW.
Following the Creek on East side the trail crosses under the QEW and up behind the Trillium Hospital before dropping back down under Queensway. Of historic note, the small bridge that crosses the Creek here is the 2nd oldest of its kind in North America – worth a slight detour to check it out. From here the trail is well worn single track that continues until arriving at Dundas. Through this section of trail riders will be able to see firsthand the devastation caused by the flooding that occurred on July 8th,2013. Several sections of trail where washed away and many trees were brought down. Through the hard work of several local trail users the trail has been cleared and for the most part returned to the state it was in prior to the flooding. However, the garbage and debris left by the flood is still evident in many areas.
Once at Dundas there is a short section of road that needs to be navigated due to golf course that is built along the Creek. Crossing over Dundas St. W at the light continue North on Nielson Dr. until you arrive at Nielson Park where you can hook up with a paved path that will bring you up to Bloor St. W. Here you have an option of heading West on Dundas to Mill Rd. or crossing over Dundas and following the paved path up through Bloordale Park. Either way, once you arrive at Burnamthorpe head West and you can once again drop into the trail on the East side of the creek. The trail follows along the edge of the creek until it come to an abrupt stop at a set of metal stairs – climb up the stairs and you will find the trail again continues North. At this point you will be riding on top of a ridge where you will be able to look down into the valley below. This section of the trail is a little more heavily traveled by other trail users so keep your head up and eyes down the trail.
To your right you will be passing by Centennial Park which is another good option as a trail head if you wanted to explore the North section of trail. There’s lots of parking at Centennial Park, and you can always try bombing the ski hill to add to your day’s excitement. Note that Centennial Park is also the location for the new BMX track for the upcoming 2015 Pan Am Games. The trail from Burnamthorpe will continue along the top of the ridge and eventually come out behind a City maintenance yard (for organic waste). The City maintenance yard is located on Centennial park drive just north of Rathburn, on the west side. Follow down the steep paved path – easy on the speed because at the bottom there is a hard right turn to get back on the dirt trail. You will now climb the elevation you just lost to get back up on the ridge. Continue along the trail until you arrive at Eglinton Ave.
Passing under Eglinton Ave you will find a crushed gravel path running along the Creek. Here there are a number of trails on either side of the Creek that make for several great loops, note that on each side of the creek there are several great sections which follow the ridge of the creek, be sure to follow the flow of the creek and you will not get lost , the trail also passes under Matheson Blvd – take some time to explore by yourself and look carefully for the trail entrances, which are located near the major roads (Burnamthorpe, Rathburn, Eglinton and Matheson) or even better hook up with a local rider to show you around, you will not be disappointed. At the Northern end of the dirt trail you will be right beside the 401 and depending on the way the wind is blowing it feels like you can reach up and touch the planes taking off or landing at Pearson International Airport. Note that there are several sections in the trail that ended up right at the top of the shear bluffs cut into the strata by the creek. There are sections where you are looking over a 50 ft drop. The most precarious section is on the Mississauga side, North of Burnamthorpe. Be aware of the danger and plan your ride accordingly.
When it is time to head home you can simply do the entire route in reverse. It actually rides quite different since it is mainly downhill on the way home. Not that is a huge amount of climbing but the general trend is down, which is nice if you have ridden this far. By the time you have returned to Marie Curtis Park (depending on how many loops you do in the Northern section) you will likely be pushing North of 30km – not bad for a trail in the middle of city.
Daily Trail conditions in Etobicoke Creek: https://www.ridingfeelsgood.com/topic/daily-trail-conditions-in-etobicoke-creek
Weekly West Side Rides: https://www.ridingfeelsgood.com/topic/weekly-west-side-rides-2
|Trail Length||30 KM (big ol’ loop) but about 16 km one way|
|Trail Level||For intermediate and advanced riders|
|Trail Type||Singletrack, some double track, small sections of paved trail and road|
|Trail Map||Etobicoke Creek Trail Map|
|Access fee||No Cost|
|GPS||Latitude : 43.58450
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|HOURS / SEASONS|
|Hours of Operation||24-7|
|Season||Open year round|
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