Biking the Toronto Islands

If you’re looking for a nice relaxing bike ride in Toronto, head over to the Toronto Islands (yes, it’s a combination of many islands, but most are easily accessible by bike once you get there by ferry) – or sometimes referred to as Toronto Island Park. You’ll basically forget you were just in the hustle and bustle of downtown Toronto and will escape to something completely different, especially when on the south side of the Islands.

The Terrain

You can get around the Islands mostly on paved paths and roads. Along the south side, there’s a boardwalk. Now I’m making it sounds like a concrete (paved?) jungle over there — I assure you it is not!

Pointers

Centre Island is the most ‘commercialized’. There’s a kids amusement park, food stands, wide paved paths, etc. Ward’s Island is where you’ll find the houses (yes, people live on the Island), but you can bike through the ‘neighbourhood’ no problem. Hanlan’s Point, known for the clothing-optional beach, also has the airport (Porter Airlines, etc). On the south side of the Islands you’ll find a boardwalk that’s right up against the water, and a pier lookout. You’ll find some beaches along there, as well. Biking from there towards Hanlon’s Point, you’ll pass a light house.

I didn’t even see close to all the nooks and crannies, so there’s more than I’m writing about here. In fact, there’s a PDF map you can check out before you head out!

How to Get There

You can take your bike on the ferry, no problem. The ferries go to three places: Centre Island, Hanlan’s Point and Ward’s Island, with Centre Island being the most popular and hence has a much larger ferry with lots of seating (The Ward’s Island ferry not so much — You’re basically standing). Since each are easily accessibly by bike from the others, any choice will do. As mentioned, the Centre Island ferry is the largest ferry, and has seating on two levels.

Catch the ferry at the foot of Bay Street (Bay & Queen’s Quay West – by the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel). The fare, at the time of this post, is $6.50 — which gets you back to the ‘mainland’ as well. They’ll take your ticket when going to the Islands, and thus not on the way back.


View Larger Map

You can buy your ticket from one of two automated machines (that take coins and credit cards — I only saw two: there could be more) or from a booth manned by staff. A word of caution on that point: On busy days the line ups for the booths can be horrendous (especially just before the summer season if the weather is nice). As for the machines, I couldn’t seem to get them to work (I wasn’t the only one), and there didn’t seem to be any instructions on how to use them properly. Thus, going at a somewhat off peak time may be your best bet.

Get a Partner or Group to Join You!

Need someone (or a group) to bike with? Ask other Toronto cyclists and mountain bikers to join you! Or post your upcoming bike ride details and have others respond to join!

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