Running in Toronto: Kay Gardner Beltline Trail



Bandit explores the Kay Gardner Beltline

Hey there! I’m in Toronto for a week for work (and fun as I get to see my friends as well). I lived in Toronto for three years before I moved to New York City in 2008. Many of my friends still live here, so I like coming up once a year or so to see everyone. I have a fixed percept of Toronto, so I’m always startled to see all the changes.


One of the things I also like doing when I’m up here is running on the wonderful trails meandering through Toronto and visiting my old haunts. Despite the fact that Toronto is the largest city in Canada with 2.7 million people (4th most populous city in North America), it has miles and miles (or should I say kilometers and kilometers) of blissful quiet trails within the city limits. When I lived here, I greatly appreciated being able to pop into a ravine trail and enjoy some solitude and nature while never leaving the city. These trails are amazing and honestly one of the best aspects of Toronto living.

Back when I lived in Toronto (2005-2008), it seemed as if these trails were my own little secret. I rarely encountered anyone on the trails. Cyclists used them. Occasional walking/hiking groups would make a rare excursion. For the most part, when I was on the trails, I was alone.

Many of the trails were rather badly neglected and not too well taken care of, which probably explained why there weren’t too many people using them. The City of Toronto started to invest in trail maintenance while I was living there and I slowly saw some improvement.

In the years since I’ve left, these trails are now very popular as evidenced by my own eyes. Walkers, runners, people everywhere! I’m happy that these trails are being used and loved, but I miss the solitary wanderings that I used to enjoy.

I chose the AirBnB apartment that I did because of its proximity to the Kay Gardner Beltline Trail, a 9-km rail trail (technically the Beltline Trail is the entire trail and the Kay Gardner refers only to the middle section). I think this is one of the youngest trails in Toronto, if not the youngest because it’s only 17 years old. When I first moved to Toronto, many people didn’t know about it at all.

Yesterday and today, Bandit and I enjoyed some morning miles on the Kay Gardner Beltline. It’s a lovely little trail for running. The path is packed dirt, so while it’s technically a trail, it’s completely non-technical and not all that different from road running. Trees line both sides for most of the trail, so no matter what time of day you run, there’s always shade. One negative about this trail is that there are a few major road crossings, where you need to stop and wait for traffic. I was doing slow easy runs, so stopping didn’t matter so much, but if I were doing fast workouts, stopping bugs me. Another drawback is that the trail is not continuous, so there are sections that you piece together by running on the road or through a cemetery. (Mount Pleasant Cemetery is quite beautiful. They encourage you to run through the cemetery and even created running routes for you.) Despite the drawbacks, I say that Kay Gardner Beltline is very much worth visiting and running through if you’re in the area.



Adorable latte art at Himalayan Coffee House

If you have time and don’t mind a bit of a detour after your run, go get yourself a latte at Himalayan Coffee House (2552 Yonge St) (and a slice of carrot cake too). They make the CUTEST latte art, hands down. The drink portions are quite generous, such that even a small was something I would have categorized as a medium drink.


That latte stole my heart.

5 thoughts on “Running in Toronto: Kay Gardner Beltline Trail

  1. That latte bear really is adorable. And the trail looks good! I can understand that while it’s nice more and more people use the trails, you miss the solitary time it used to afford.

    • Toronto has really grown since I left. I walked through my old neighborhood where I lived. I was flabbergasted with all the changes. Many of the little stores and restos are gone now. It’s more polished.

      The good thing about the trails being used is that the city is spending money on their upkeep. There were certain sections that were badly neglected and I’m glad that people are recognizing its value.

  2. That latte is awesome! I love Toronto. I haven’t been in years, but I keep telling Rock that we need to go. When I was in college, I would drive to Detroit and take the train there. Such a great city. I hope your trip was fabulous.

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