As the days get shorter and a chill enters the air, it gets harder to find opportunities to explore outdoor spaces. But fall is such a lovely time of year to be outside. The air feels crisp and clean, and who can deny the beauty of the fall colours? In Toronto, you’d be surprised how easy it is to get off the main roads and experience some urban wilderness. The Kay Gardner Belt Line Trail is just such an outdoor space you can walk, run, or bike on your own or with the kids.
The Kay Gardner Belt Line is part of the City of Toronto’s Discovery Walks program linking city ravines, parks, and outdoor spaces. The Belt Line portion starts just east of Eglinton West subway station, on the east side of the Allen Expressway, and runs east toward Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Keep an eye out for the Discovery Trail signs to find your way.
The Belt Line is a great place to cycle with kids, as it offers them long stretches of wide spaces to wobble along and a soft surface to land on. Keep in mind, if you plan to cycle the trail, that it crosses some major streets — Bathurst Street, Avenue Road and Oriole Parkway — but those are easily crossed at traffic lights. And the dirt trail offers a soft surface for runners and walkers, too.
Just east of Oriole Parkway, the trail takes you to the Davisville TTC Yard. If you’re out with the little ones, take some time to check out the new playground at Oriole Park, which is nestled just north of the yard. The playground was specially designed to accommodate children of all ages and abilities and eliminate barriers to accessibility. It’s beautiful and well designed. If you pack a picnic, this is a great place to stop, as there is ample seating on benches as well as few tables and some grassy spaces under great big trees. You’ll find two wheelchair accessible washrooms there, too.
If you can tear yourselves away from the playground, get back on the trail and continue South-East past the TTC yard to a bridge that overlooks the Davisville TTC Station. Here’s a good place to stop and admire the view of the city to the south or watch the trains going by. If you wait long enough, you may even catch a glimpse of one of the new TTC Rocket Trains!
And just over the bridge, the trail goes into Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Now, you might think a cemetery is an odd place to take your kids on an outing, but Mount Pleasant is a beautiful site to walk, run, or cycle (no rollerblading or dogs allowed, though). With one of the greatest collections of trees in the country, it’s a perfect spot to admire the changing leaves.
Follow the Discovery Walk signs to the centre of the cemetery and check out the gardens and reflecting pool. By this point, you will have travelled quite a distance and you may want to end your expedition here. But take a moment to admire the fall foliage, not to mention the beautiful pool and waterfall, before heading back at your own pace. Enjoy that last glorious days of fall in the outdoors!