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.
Because this hike takes you through several parks, there are many starting points.
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.
On the north end of the park is a footbridge over the Don River and the Don Valley Parkway.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When you get to Pottery Road, turn left and use the footpath along the fence just past the train tracks.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Toronto NecropolisFollow 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.
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.
On the river, you may see ducks, like Common Merganser or Mallards.
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.