Riverdale Park to Pottery Road Loop

Explore the Lower Don Trails under the Bloor Street Viaduct between Carlton Street and Pottery Road. 

In this 7.5 km hike, you'll pass through several iconic Toronto locations, including Cabbagetown favourites: Riverdale Park and Riverdale Farm, Wellesely Park and Necropolis Cemetery, a sculpture garden, the Don River, Pottery Road, Evergreen Brickworks and Rosedale Valley Road.

Map of hike from Riverdale Park to Pottery Road

I call this an epic hike because it takes you through several hiking hotspots in Toronto, but it's only a 7.5k loop in reality.


Because this hike takes you through several parks, there are many starting points. 

Parking next to Riverside Park West

We parked in a free spot at Riverdale Park West (387 Carlton Street), where you'll see the entrance to the Riverdale Farm, typical Cabbagetown homes, a tree sculpture and a map of the entire area. 

Parking in Cabbagetown next to the Riverdale West Park

Riverdale Park West

After parking, head down the hill to the field with the Sam Pollock ball diamond. This entire field is a permanent off-leash area for dogs. There are stairs on the left-hand side and a gently-sloped paved path on the right.

Off-Leash area in Riverdale East Park

The building at the bottom of the sloped path is where the washroom is located. The washrooms are open only in the summer months.

View of the park from the footbridge

The ball diamond has not been used since the Covid lockdown began, but if there is a game, you'll need to leash your dog, so they don't steal the ball.

Map of Off-Leash area in Riverdale Park West

On the north end of the park is a footbridge over the Don River and the Don Valley Parkway. 

Riverdale West Off-Leash Park

Use this footbridge to reach the Lower Don Trail or Riverdale Park East. 

Meeting other dogs on the footbridge over the Don River

If you continue to the end of the bridge,  you'll end up at Riverdale Park East. This park does not allow dogs off-leash, but it does lead to some shops on Broadview Ave if you need a coffee or snack. You'll also see the iconic Ukrainian Church from this park.

Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Church on Broadview

For our hike, take the staircase in the middle of the footbridge down to the Lower Don Trails.

Head north along the narrow trail with the river to your right. This trail is popular with cyclists, so keep your dog on a leash and close to you during this section. 

Follow the signs north to Pottery Road

Several times on this section of the hike, you'll go over or under bridges. The first bridge takes you over the Don River that, at this point, looks more like a canal with adjacent train tracks and the DVP.

Cross the Don River over the bridge

We saw ducks in the section of the Don River next to the train trestle. 

Pass the train bridge that is covered in graffiti

The "Belleville Underpass" was completed in 2017 and had historical paintings on the surfaces, but now the underpass is heavily covered with graffiti.

Pass through the Belleville Underpass

Riverside Trails

There are unpaved trails along the Don River worth taking if the paved trail is busy with cyclists or pedestrians. The trail is easy to find in the winter and may be your best bet for letting your dog off the leash.

Unpaved trail along the Don River bypasses the busy paved trail

I read the book "In the Skin of a Lion" by Michael Ondaatje many years ago, where the Bloor Street Viaduct's creation is described dramatically. It's impossible to see this bridge without thinking of that story and the larger-than-life characters. 

Monsters for Beauty

Just past the Bloor Street Viaduct, you'll come to an outdoor sculpture park known as Monsters for Beauty. We enjoy coming here to have Lucy and her friends pose for photos with the sculptures.

Monsters for Beauty Sculptures

The path follows the river, where it passes under yet another bridge. The path is a bit wider in the next section but you still need to be aware of cyclists. 

Not far from Pottery Road, you'll pass under a train trestle with interesting graffiti-art.

Graffiti on the trail

Pottery Road

When you get to Pottery Road, turn left and use the footpath along the fence just past the train tracks. 

Lower Don Trail crosses Pottery Road

You could also use the Bayview Extension Cycling Path immediately next to Bayview Ave, but it may be heavy with cyclists, and Bayview Ave can be a bustling road.

Unpaved trail beside the fence

The unpaved path is between a fence and thick bushes, so you may be able to let your dog off-leash.

Evergreen Brick Works

A highlight of this hike is the beautiful paintings on the concrete pillars of the train bridge next to Evergreen Brick Works. These were painted in 2017 for the 2018 PanAm Games. In my opinion, the city needs to do more of these public art displays.

Painted trestles

If you want to stop at the Evergreen Brick Works for a snack or visit the dog park, see our blog entry Evergreen Brickworks for details about this park.

Evergreen Brickworks

Continue to walk on the trails between train tracks and Bayview Ave south towards Rosedale Valley Road. The most interesting thing in this section of the hike is the underpass, which is also heavily painted with graffiti-art.


Cross Bayview Ave at the Rosedale Valley traffic lights. The cemetery on the left is part of the Necropolis Cemetery. Continue on the hike as described to access the cemetery.

Rosedale Valley Road from the Bayview Extension Cycling Path

Wellesley Park

Go up the 90 stairs to Wellesley Park. While walking up all the stairs, I imagined what it was like to climb this steep hill before the staircase was installed.

Stairs from Rosedale Valley Road to Wellesley Park

Walk through the park admiring the homes that share their front yards with the park. Exit the park and stay to the left.

Wellesley Park

Toronto Necropolis

Follow the trail along the fence of the cemetery called Toronto Necropolis.


This is a beautiful cemetery that dates back to 1850, making it one of Toronto's oldest and historic cemeteries. According to Mount Pleasant Cemetery website, "The Necropolis is the final resting place of Toronto’s first mayor, William Lyon Mackenzie; journalist George Brown; John Ross Robertson, founder of the Toronto Telegram; former NDP leader Jack Layton; Anderson Ruffin Abbot, the first Canadian-born black surgeon; and world-champion oarsman Ned Hanlan. The Necropolis also features a monument honouring Samuel Lount and Peter Matthews, hanged in 1838 for their roles in the Mackenzie Rebellion."

Turn left onto Winchester St. to reach the entrance to the cemetery, which is across the road from the Riverdale Farm. 

Riverdale Farm

Riverdale Farm in Cabbagetown, Toronto

Dogs are not allowed into the farm, but there is a fenced area on Winchester Street with pigs and sheep on the other side. I like to take Lucy there to see her reaction to the smell of farm animals. 

Smelling the pigs through the Riverdale Farm fence

After sniffing the animals that reside on the other side of the fence, the hike is finished. 

Sheep, goats, pigs, horses, and cows at the Riverdale Farm


If you pay attention, you should see Red Tail Hawks or Cooper's Hawks along the route, along with smaller birds that are common in Toronto.

Red Tail Hawk on the Lower Don Trails

On the river, you may see ducks, like Common Merganser or Mallards.

Ducks on the Don River, Common Merganser

Trail Extensions

Start your walk at Thomas Hauser Trailhead and walk through Crother's Woods to the Lower Don Trail. See our blog entry Crother's Forest Trail for details.

Start your walk at the Evergreen Brickworks or somewhere along the Moore Ravine. See our blog entry Moore Ravine - David Balfour Loop for suggestions.

Instead of turning left at Pottery Road, turn right to visit the Todmorden Mills and return to Riverdale Park via Broadview Ave.


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


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