The Don Valley Trail system is one of the very few that has thrived within city limits. The 100+ kilometres of singletrack begins at the south end of the Crothers Woods Trail and branches off into three separate sections to the north. The steep climbs and never ending trails will challenge your fitness. There are technical bits, but nothing much worse than single black. Best part is riding all the random urban features that somehow ended up in the valley. The trail builders have done an amazing job incorporating local materials into the mix. The Don has a little bit of everything, with the option to ride all day and never see the same trail twice.
One of the more common places to park is at the Redway Loblaws Parking Lot Trailhead. From Pottery, multiple routes run north on both sides of the railway, with The Ridge being the most popular. Keep in mind, the ridge does see a fair number of hikers and dogs. However, there is very little foot traffic once you get past Redway. After roughly four kilometres the ridge trail ends, and this is where the trail branches off into three different directions. The options are to head towards Catalyst, Motown or Boomarang. Some trails are marked, but very few, so best to have a route uploaded to your Garmin, find a local to follow, or try your best to navigate via Trailforks. Here is a decent TrailForks Route you can upload and navigate via a Garmin. Following someone is your best option.
XC Max Fun
If you like short punchy climbs, then this is the place for you. Part of the fun is trying to stay on your bike for an entire ride. All the best stuff runs up and down the 10-20 meters of elevation the valley has to offer, and it can get fairly sketchy. Surprisingly, it is easy to tally 500 meters of climbing in a few hours. Majority of the trails are few kilometers in length, which makes ride time fly by. If you need a break, there is some easier stuff at the bottom of the valley, but the Don is mostly comprised of blue and black trails. One of the best features is that its super easy to bail out and take the paved trail back to where you need to be.
Snow, Wildlife and Trains
When its cold enough, the trails are friendly to plus and studded tires. There is enough traffic and trail maintenance to expect the popular trails to be groomed and cleared of debris. Best time to ride the valley is in the spring, fall and when the snow conditions are just right. There is a fair amount of wildlife tucked into this sliver of city wilderness. Deer, hawks, coyotes and beavers all reside nearby, so have a look around on your ride. Another thing to watch for is the Go Train. Be mindful, there might be a speeding locomotive when crossing the tracks.
If you are looking for another ride. Durham Forest is massive trail system one hour northeast of Toronto. Most of Durham's Trails are green and blue which can provide the framework for a chilled out endurance ride. One other option can be found at Bronte Creek Provincial Park in Oakville. This Bronte Trails are a little bit closer than Durham and has 15 kilometres of singletrack. However, the trail is an out and back route, so its possible to do 30 km of fast trails overlooking Bronte Creek. What it lacks in distance, it makes up for with a great view.
2 Hour Ride
So Many Trails
Deer, Hawks and Coyotes