Hiking Trail Review: Scarborough Bluffs Trail, Toronto, ON

Location: Bluffers Park
Park here: 1 Brimley Road S
Public Transport: TTC

Hike Distance: 5 km roundtrip
Elevation Gain/Loss: 20 m
Hike Duration: 1- 2 hours
Difficulty: Easy
What makes it easy? A flat trail with many opportunities to stop and rest along the way.
Trail website: Click here

Bluffs Ontario Toronto travel hike exploreShayna Stevenson

Located at the base of the Scarborough Bluffs, this trail is part of Bluffers Park, a popular multi-use area containing a marina, a beach and an abundance of picnic and barbecue spots along Lake Ontario. Whether you are looking for an idyllic walk or a spot to spend the day, the Scarborough Bluffs trail is a hidden gem just outside downtown Toronto.

bluffs pretty pictureShayna Stevenson

Finding the Trailhead

Driving: There are three large pay-enforced parking lots within Bluffers Park that provide access to the trail. The very beginning of the trail is paved and begins at the northeast edge of the middle parking lot. The more nature-immersive portion of the trail begins at the east end of the westernmost parking lot, closest to the Bluffers Beach.

Public Transportation: From Victoria Park subway station, take the 12B bus to the Brimley Road stop.

trail views grassShayna Stevenson

The Hike Itself

Scarborough Bluffs Trail can be broken down into three distinct sections: the marina, the beach and a picnic area. The first part of the trail is a paved path that runs alongside the road leading to the beach and past the marina. After walking it once I would opt to skip this section in the future and park at the lot closest to the beach; this is where the cement and noise of the city falls away and the real trail begins.

The entrance to the beach and the prettiest (and longest) section of the trail are very close to one another, but despite the crowds heading to the beach, the trail was quiet. A trailhead sign warns of coyotes in the area and reminds me to keep my dog on a leash. The dirt path ahead is lined with native plants, like goldenrod, and wide enough to share with anyone who passes by.

goldenrodShayna Stevenson

This stretch of the trail runs parallel to the beach, and as we walk, we can see the sand and water between the tall grasses and trees. Despite being a lakefront city, beach access is hard to come by in Toronto and I am pleasantly surprised to discover this is a beautiful and relatively quiet spot. Every few minutes, we pass paths branching off the trail, providing opportunities to walk out to the beach. To the left, the iconic cliffs of Scarborough Bluffs come into view.

About halfway through this section of the trail, the path becomes much narrower and more overgrown. There are red markings on trees to help guide the way from this point.

marked treesShayna Stevenson

As we approach the last third of the trail, it gets a little muddy and sandy. The trail leads us onto the beach.

path to the beachShayna Stevenson

It is a weekday, and this end of the beach is scarcely populated—it would be an ideal place to stop and go for a dip. The views here are both striking and serene in either direction, and the sound of the waves lapping on the shore is meditative. It’s the perfect spot to take a break before heading back.

beach spotShayna Stevenson

Once we arrive back at the beach trailhead, I walk the third section of the trail, which is a paved path south of the marina. This area feels more like a park with a lot of benches and picnic tables on either side of the path and it’s nice to see how many people gather here to make use of them. In contrast to the size of the crowd near the main beach’s entrance, there is a more secluded stretch of beach nestled between two rock formations here and I make a mental note to come back another day. It is quiet and relatively private compared to the popular end of Bluffers Beach.

bbqShayna Stevenson

The most attractive aspect of this trail is its variety. If you wanted to, you could visit the area just for the hike, or you could easily spend the day here. As I leave the park, I spot a Double-crested Cormorant and a Red-winged Blackbird, both native species to the area—a nice send-off as I head back into the city.

send off trailShayna Stevenson

Before You Go:

  • There isn’t a lot of shade on the trail—bring water, sunscreen and a hat
  • Keep your dog on leash—this is the rule, but also helps to keep your dog safe in an area known to have coyotes
  • If you’d like to visit the top of the bluffs, don’t climb; you can visit the top of them by car, transit or by taking a walk up Brimley Road
  • The gates to the park and trail close at 11pm

beach nice walk ontarioShayna Stevenson