In Markam, a suburb on the north side of Toronto, we found a surprisingly pleasant 12 km bike cruise called the Rouge Valley trail. Following the Bruce Creek into the upper Rouge River tributaries, we encountered a patchwork of trails that lead us to ponds, a lake, bridges and dams that we loved.
We set out on a chilly spring day and found the trek full of winding ever-changing landscape that kept us interested in going further. Much of it was still natural and not overly cultivated open parkland.
Starting from the top at 16th Ave. we headed southeast following the creek on a twisty and easily navigable narrow path. Onward through ravines, over many boardwalks and bridges we went. The surface was old cracked asphalt with sections of gravel or a wood chip base.
Nothing was unmanageable on a good city bike with medium-sized tires. This was indicative of the rest of the ride. Some parts newly paved, others not at all. A few road crossings are required but none seemed hazardous as larger crossings had lights.
I was going to call this route the Villages and Valley trail as posted on signs in the middle section of this ride. Yet upon more research online, I believe it will be called the Rouge Valley trail, but I saw no signage saying so. This one in Markam is not to be confused with the larger, more well know Rouge Valley trails east of here in a much more significant valley. (I think this is a poor choice in names.)
We should expect someday soon directional signs are coming. Currently, it’s a little disjointed, regardless you can figure it out in short order. We didn’t get lost but adding a painted line down the middle works for me.
As now the longest bike trail in Markam, it is taking shape as two massive (impressive $$!) pedestrian metal bridges have just been built to join the route at the Milne Dam Conservation Park to more riding to the south. This path ends after you go under Hwy 407 and you cycle around the edge of a golf course.
On your return, there are options to take other paths closer to the water at Milne Dam or ride the other side of Waldon and Toogood Ponds, all worth seeking out.
Here is the best part, take your time, there are so many reasons to stop and relax, forget about your worries. At Toogood Pond find a bench and watch the many geese swim about. Or visit the Varley Art Gallery or meander by the old storefronts in historic Unionville further south.
Plan a lunch there or at the Milne reservoir which has picnic tables for your group. Or cycle just beyond this park to the old village of Markham. Just head north for five minutes when you get to Markam Road.
A quick drive up the DVP highway will take you to the north end on 16th Ave. in no time. A great find within the GTA and another recommended jaunt for local Torontonians.