• Southern Ontario Hiking Resources


W08_8565_86Lookout over the Don Valley

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Hike Info

This is a nice easy walk along the Don River as the trail passes through Riverdale Park East. Continue on the trail (busy with cyclists) to Chester Springs Marsh. At Pottery Road the trail climbs back up the ravine to present a great view of the Don Valley below.

Lat/Long N43.67681 W79.35871


6.5 km


2 h


The Don River Valley hike is fairly flat  overall with a few staircases

Todmorden Mills grounds

Washrooms at Todmorden Mills



While this walk does not take you to the Riverdale Farm or the Necropolis Cemetery, they are nearby and worth a look if time permits.

The Don River is one of two rivers bounding the original settled area of Toronto along the shore of Lake Ontario, the other being the Humber River to the west. The Don is formed from two rivers, the East and West Branches, that meet about 7 km north of Lake Ontario while flowing southward into the lake. The area below the confluence is known as the lower Don, and the areas above as the upper Don.

Riverdale Park is a large park spanning the Lower Don River in Toronto, Ontario, Canada between Cabbagetown to the west and Broadview Avenue in Riverdale to the east. Recreational fields for soccer, baseball, and Ultimate are available on both sides of the river with a swimming pool, tennis courts and outdoor hockey rink to the northeast, as well as a running track in the centre.

Chester Springs Marsh is a restoration project that was established to demonstrate how a constructed wetland could play a part in returning the Don Valley to more natural condition. It was designed to provide habitat for many native wildlife species and covers 3 hectares. It is divided into two parts separated by the Don River: The eastern side borders the Lower Don Trail and is open to the public to visit while the part west of the river (largely inaccessible), provides a protected habitat for wetland wildlife. Chester Springs Marsh also acts as a natural flood control mechanism.

Todmorden Mills was a small settlement located in the Don River Valley in Toronto. It started out as a saw mill in the late 18th century and soon after was replaced by a grist mill. During the 1880's, this mill was converted to steam power, resulting in the tall chimney that continues to be a landmark for the site. It grew into a small industrial complex and village before becoming part of East York in the 20th century. Currently the valley site is occupied by the Todmorden Mills Heritage Museum and Arts Centre, which includes the museum, art gallery, a theatre and a forest preserve.

Riverdale Farm is a 3 hectares working farm located on the edge of the Don Valley Ravine.  Youngsters enjoy watching the cows, pigs, turkeys, and ducks -- and can get close enough to pet many animals, such as the rabbits. Because this really is a farm, you'll see all of the chores of daily life, such as horse grooming, cow and goat milking, egg collecting, and animal feeding. Adults should note that the farm shop has great produce and baked goods, and that there's a farmers' market on-site Tuesdays from May to October. Open daily, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, admission is free.

Necropolis Cemetery is a historic cemetery in Toronto. Opened in 1850 to replace Strangers' Burying Ground (or Potter's Field), the cemetery is the final resting place for many earlier Torontonians including: Joseph Bloor, William Lyon Mackenzie, George Brown, John Ross Robertson, and many others. The cemetery has over 50,000 bodies and a crematorium was built in 1933. It is used to bury bodies used for research at the University of Toronto and is now part of the Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries.


This is a loop hike that begins and ends at the BROADVIEW station on the BLOOR/DANFORTH subway line. The walk may be done in either direction.



001 - 002From the Broadview subway station proceed left to Danforth Avenue. From here you need to cross twice to get to the diagonally opposite corner where the entrance ramp to the Don Valley parkway is located. Carefully cross this ramp and then turn left and follow the fence line and path heading gradually downhill. The trail crosses an overpass bridge over the entrance ramp and then descends a set of sloped ramps to the bottom. Turn left and follow the trail through the bushes to the open fields of  Riverdale Park East. Keep to the right along the fence line. This part of the walk is very noisy due to the roar of nearby traffic. Keep right as the trail enters a bushy area and comes out to a pedestrian overpass over the Don Valley Parkway (002).

002 - 003The trail turns right on the overpass and a staircase on the left leads down to the trail. [If you go all the way over the overpass, you will come to Riverdale Farm and some interesting pathways along the Don. A bit further is the Necropolis Cemetery.] At the bottom of the metal staircase turn left and follow the paved path which soon crosses a rusty metal bridge over the Don River. Be careful to keep to the far left side of the paved trail as this trail is very popular with bicyclists. Continue north along this path to Chester Springs Marsh. There is a dirt path to the left that leads through the marsh and back to the trail. Unfortunately the display sign for the marsh has been completely defaced by vandals (as of 04 Apr 10). The trail continues under the Prince Edward Viaduct (Bloor-Danforth) where the roar of the subway trains can be heard above. The trail continues north until it arrives at Pottery Road (003).

003 - 004The trail does not cross Pottery Road but makes a V-turn and follows the road along the guardrail and under a parkway overpass. The trail soon arrives at Todmorden Mills where it turns right, passes through the grounds and climbs a long set of steps back up to Pottery Road. if you wish to avoid these steps you can walk up the more gradual slope on Potery Road itself. This is a long gradual climb that brings you to Broadview Avenue (004).

004 - 001Turn right on Broadview and follow to Chesterhill Road. Turn right -the Discovery sign for the turn seems to be missing here. Follow Chesterhill to the end for a great view of the entire Don Valley below and the path you followed. After viewing the surroundings, head back along Thorncliffe Avenue to Cambridge Ave. Turn right onto Cambridge and follow to Danforth Avenue. Turn left along the Danforth amd then left on Broadview to the Broadview subway station to complete the walk (001).

Enjoy the walk and the day!




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