By Bryen Dunn
There’s no better way to explore the great outdoors and catch the last of the changing colours of the fall season than on two feet or two wheels.
Born of ancient routes used by Indigenous Peoples, the hiking and biking trail network in York Region now extends throughout each of the nine municipalities. With a variety of paved urban trails and rugged forest paths of varying lengths, it’s a wonderful day outing for everyone from novice to experienced.
Hikers will be amazed at the diverse landscape, wildlife and vegetation waiting to be appreciated. Explore the Oak Ridges Moraine trail, kettle lakes, wetlands, forests, and a variety of other points of interest.
For cyclists, there are more than 1,000 kilometres of bike routes in York Region, including paths, trails, and bike lane.
We’ve put together a list of trails and tracts most popular with residents and visitors alike.
Brown Hill Tract in the Town of East Gwillimbury offers more than 15 kilometres of trails and provides some of the best mountain biking terrain.
Nokiidaa Trail is a pedestrian and cycling trail connecting Aurora, Newmarket, and East Gwillimbury. Key stops along the trail include Rogers Reservoir Conservation Area, Fairy Lake, and Sheppard’s Bush.
German Mills Park Loop is an easy and accessible trail loop right in the heart of Markham, with great river views and wooded areas to explore.
Milne Dam Conservation Area / Rouge River Trail is located on the Milne Reservoir, which is part of Rouge Park. This trail features significant wetlands, forests and lookout points.
Eldred Tract Trail is a heavily wooded trail that runs alongside a stream in the Whitchurch-Stouffville section. It also connects to multiple tracts of the York Regional Forest, comprised of 2,400 hectares of protected land with more than 150 kilometres of trails.
The Aurora segment of the Lake-to-Lake Cycling and Walking Trail was completed in 2020, and features a Multi-use Pathway that provides a new active transportation link for local communities between Bloomington Road and Vandorf Sideroad. This 121-kilometre recreational and commuter trail runs between Lake Simcoe and Lake Ontario, with connections to the Greenbelt Route, PanAm Path, and Waterfront Trail.
Family-friendly trails include Nokiidaa, Milne Dam Conservation Area, Sibbald Point Provincial Park, Centennial Park Mountain Bike Trail, and Oak Ridges Corridor Park. For trails that are cleared and graded for easy access for all head over to Hall, Hollidge, or North.
Looking for a longer hike? Bendor and Graves, Happy Valley, North, and Pefferlaw are your best bets.
We hope that we’ve given you some inspiration to get out and enjoy the wonderful landscape within York Region. Whether heading out solo, with friends, or as a family outing, there’s plenty to discover and experience in our own backyard.
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on adventure, ecotourism, lifestyle, entertainment, and hospitality. He contributes to several industry and consumer publications, and also has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews.
Trail Activities Images supplied by The Regional Municipality of York