Earl Bales Dog Park and a River Walk

A visit to the dog park followed by a walk along the Don River

Sign for Earl Bales Park

Recommended route

The route I recommend is a 5 km hike. Use the parking lot for the Earl Bales Dog Park that is located on Don River Blvd.

Map to the Don River Blvd parking lot for the Earl Bales off-leash dog park.

Map for a hike along the Don River starting in Earl Bales Park

Dog Park

Start your visit at the off-leash dog park. This is one of the better dog parks I've seen as it is large and has a run in the forest for dogs to chase each other. 

Dogs playing in the off-leash dog park in Earl Bales Park

After visiting the dog park, walk down Don River Blvd, cross the bridge and turn right onto the trail immediately before the first house.

Street and bridge on Don River Blvd, Toronto.

Unpaved trail that takes you along the Don River

Keep your dog on leash when the trails are narrow.

Bike Park

On the left-hand-side of the trail, you'll see that work has been done to make this area into an off-road bike obstacle course. I saw mostly young kids but many adults like this activity as well.

Off-road biking obstacle course

Addington Greenbelt

Before you get to the Sheppard Overpass, you'll see a fork in the trail. For this walk, take the left trail which is through the Addington Greenbelt. It takes you to the intersection of Elmhurst and Senlac. 

Earl Bales Hiking Trail

Fork in the trail gives two options for hiking

This trail is about half a km each way and gets muddy during and after a rain. Attempts have been made to improve the trail with wood decking, pallets, and branches.

Wood on the trails cuts down on the mud

Off-Leash Opportunities

Throughout this part of the hike, Lucy was able to play off-leash. There were no other people and there were no dangerous spots. She was taunted by several squirrels so she had a great run in the hilly forest.

Off-leash opportunities in the Addington Ravine

We passed under the Addington Street overpass, decorated with music-inspired graffiti.

Addington Street Overpass in ravine near Earl Bales park

At the end of the trail, turn back and return to the spot where this trail started.

End of trail in Addington ravine

River Walk

When you get to the start of this trail, turn left and follow the trail immediately next to the Don River. Pass under the Sheppard Overpass and stay on the unpaved trail.

Sheppard Street West Overpass in Earl Bales Park

There are many side trails that I haven't explored yet. I suspect they go to neighbouring streets or backyards.

River trail in Earl Bales Park

The trail is narrow and flat, so there if there are other people on the trail, it will be difficult to let your dog off-leash along this section.

Don River is shallow in places

The water is shallow in several areas, but where it's not, the current can be strong, so be careful about letting your dog in the river.

Don River has strong currents and is unsafe in areas

You're at the end of this trail once you reach the golf course. It is possible to continue along paths in the forest that go to Gwendolen Park, but if you parked at the Earl Bales Dog Park, this trail will take you too far.

Fallen tree trunk painted in Earl Bales Park

Don Valley Golf Course

During the summer, you cannot walk on the golf course. In the winter, you can bring your dogs onto this and many other courses in Toronto. See a blog entry I wrote in February, Earl Bales Park for hikes through the Don Valley Golf course in winter. In the summer, you can only admire the beautiful course through an opening in the forest and then turn back to where you parked your car.

Views of the Don Valley Golf Course from River trail in Earl Bales Park

View of Don Valley Golf Course from the River Trail in Earl Bales Park

COVID Treasure

The creative people of Toronto have been leaving painted rocks and birdhouses in city forests to bring a bit of joy during these challenging times. I very much appreciated every single item I spotted and have a page dedicated to showcases these treasures. See Things You See When Hiking.

Painted rocks in Earl Bales Park

Painted rocks in Earl Bales Park

Birdhouse in Earl Bales Park

Bird house in Earl Bales Park

Alternate routes

Earl Bales Dog Park is a great starting point for several hikes. See my blog post, Earl Bales Dog Park and York Cemetery, for details on a 3 km hike the forest next to the cemetery.

Watch for further posts on different options.


Enjoy your walk! When you post photos to Instagram, tag us at @hikingtoronto or #hikingtorontowithlucy


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