The Bartley Smith Greenway (BSG) is a 15 km park path in Vaughan, a suburb northwest of Toronto. This trail heads north following the source of the West Don River.
I recently revisited the route and found little changed except for new signage. It offers an enjoyable ride with a variety of open parkland and natural wooded scenery, and a few more hills than one would expect.
We started our day by parking in G. Ross Lord Park above the reservoir. I included this 2 km paved Hidden Trail to get you to Steeles Ave.; a busy road with few opportunities to park or breaks in traffic to cross. For safety, I recommend using the lights at the corner. The official start of the Bartley Greenway is on the other side of these six lanes.
Your other major crossing will be Dufferin St., where you can go under the train tracks and across another wide road at the lights. If you can spot it, there is a tunnel under Glen Shields Ave. which continues north on a concrete trailway to the pond, a lovely, tranquil setting to stop at (one of five along the way).
Once you are crossing under Hwy 407, the path turns to crushed limestone. Some call it stone dust, or is it limestone screening? Never a problem for most riders, just watch your turns, as there are pockets of loose grit.
The city has paved most of the sloping portions of the pathway with asphalt, a thoughtful addition, and added new signs which answer a lot of directional questions for cyclists.
Note as of June 2021: When you cross over Rivermede Rd., you will see that the city has a road detour notice posted, yet we saw a stream of local riders carry on. So we followed the natives to where the trail ends…sort of. There must have been a route through at one point, but now Metrolinx is making changes to the tracks, so the path has gotten cut off temporarily. Well, it’s unofficially still sort of open… as the fence has an opening and many before us have gone through.
So now you are at Langstaff Rd., an industrial area which is quiet on weekends. Head west, then north on Planchet Rd. to the end and look west for the ravine valley entrance. This path seems less used heading north and perhaps not as safe on your own, in the dark, on a full moon, when the wolves are howling.
For whatever reason, the path goes up a wooden ramp to Basaltic Ave. ever so briefly, then takes you down into the ravine again.
At Rutherford Rd., cross to connect with the last 1 km through residential parkland to see your fifth pond. Or head west to discover assorted fast-food options at a mall.
I should mention that the Bartley trail has a small separate 2.5 km northern section, with 7 more small ponds! But there is a long 3 km detour on side streets to get there. If you choose to do it, it is well marked with the familiar BSG green and brown signage, all the way to Teston Rd.
The Bartley Smith Greenway will eventually connect to the proposed Vaughan Super Trail, which will offer more than 100 km of riding. But for now, Vaughan’s longest park path is a worthy jaunt on a summer’s day, all on its own merit, for those living north of Toronto.