Cycling the 9 km Lake Shore section of the Martin Goodman Trail may seem short, but veering off on side trails to scenic and historic points can double that distance. This enjoyable and very popular route around Humber Bay, on the Toronto waterfront, draws riders for many reasons.
As some of you may know, it is a major cycling connector for the city. But are you aware that this route has lots of historic stops and trip diversions?
What brings riders down to the lake is not only the cool breeze and beach sand but a sense of getting away from the urban chaos. Well, not completely, mind you: a glance to the north can reveal lanes of backed-up traffic. (You will be glad you are on a bike when you see it.) Still, half of the time there is enough parkland to separate cyclists from the sight of cars.
I start this ride on the west side, at Mimico Waterfront Park. Sadly, going further west from here is a patchwork of detours and on-road bike lanes, not the focus of this site. I stick to off-road, car-free cycling, where as much as possible riders cannot see or hear cars, much less encounter them.
Heading east, the first side trails (at about 4 km) will loop you around both the east and west peninsulas at Humber Bay Park: perfect for cityscape photos across the bay.
Then continue over the iconic white Humber Bay Arch Bridge. Here you can ride up the Humber River Trail & Upper Humber right to the top ~24 km, one of the most popular routes on this site.
Once across the bridge, you’ve reached the Sunnyside Beach area, which has a long history of attracting Torontonians. The old Bathing Pavilion is a favourite for photo shoots, and the nearby outdoor pool—built in 1925—was once one of the largest in the world.
A century ago, big bands played at dance halls, the Palais Royale, is now the last concert hall still standing. Kids could ride the streetcars for free to get here, and they even set ablaze old ships with fireworks to get people to come!
The wooden boardwalk (which you are not to ride) once had couples walking it on Sundays in their finest. Parkettes along the way have placards posted informing you about everything from battles in 1812 to the first swimmer who crossed the lake. Yours to discover.
On the north side of Lake Shore Blvd., you’ll find the Sunnyside BMX park, further up High Park one of the largest city parks, where you can ride about 5 km of loops.
(Recently there has been an uproar concerning speeding tickets given to cyclists going over 20 kph. Does this seem low? What I hope is that in the future there will be less car access.) Read more…
My section of the Lake Shore Trail ends at the other side of Ontario Place. On a spring spin earlier this year, I was surprised to discover that Ontario Place is open to bike riders. So you can wander in there, or around the CNE grounds, for more mechanized merriment.
Beyond this point, you are now joining up with the 9 km Harbourfront segment and then another 9 km along the Beaches Boardwalk section of the Goodman Trail. This very lively urban city bike tour of Toronto is a must for tourists.
The trail is well maintained and signed. It’s also a virtual bike highway at times, which means riders need to pay attention to other bikes, rollerbladers, joggers and those absent-minded, phone-staring walkers. Personally, I wish the city would define two paths, one for pedestrians and joggers and the other for bikes and bladers only.
Since the Lake Shore trail is so well known, I chose to focus on other lesser-known paths for many years. However, it now deserves a posting on this site as one of the best rides in TO.
Pack a picnic or find a patio; this is the heart of the city relaxation zone. Slow down, chill, and stay a while. There is lots to see and do.
This new ride review is not yet published in my book. But 65 other great destinations are with better maps, elevation graphs and more parking locations. Available as an eBook or paperback.