These secret trails through Toronto’s woods and valleys are mountain biking’s paradise

“Isn’t that kind of dangerous?” Sam asked. “Flying up a hill on a bike, going down lanes with tight turns, and jumping doesn’t sound like a really safe idea to me…”

“If you think about it,” replied Sam, “everything we’re doing involves some kind of risk. We could have gotten into a truck while we were driving here.” “You don’t get it. It’s all part of the fun. The hill rides and jumps, it makes you feel alive. It’s the best treatment out there.”

Hiding behind the Loblaws on the Redway (small road off the Laird, in Leaside) we found trails we were very keen to visit.

We parked our car on the other side of the parking lot, away from the store, but a few meters from the driveways. I would drive through the same parking lot every day on my way to work, however, I would have never guessed that this was also home to the best mountain biking trails in Toronto.

Quick entrance to a series of mountain biking trails. Image via Tanya Mok.

I helped Sam get ready, and as he walked through the woods, I began my journey down the trail.

The sun was shining and the trees were swaying in the cool April breeze. Sometimes the sound of birds breaking with the hum of a bicycle.

As I walked down the trail, I thought to myself that it was strange to see such a beautiful, very quiet trail.

How do they know where they are going? How do they not get lost in the trails? I said to myself. I reached the bottom and found Sam leaning on his bike, smiling. Smiling, he said, “What a man riding! I have to do it again. I wish I had the energy though…”.

As we walked up the trail, I began to realize that my adventure into the world of urban mountain biking was only beginning.

On the way home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the trails, bikes and the idea of ​​spinning around the trails that somehow found their place in the heart of the city.

toronto mountain biking

Trail with a goal. Photo by Jonathan Kravchenko.

“What made you play sports?” asked Quincy Orta, an avid mountain biker who works at The Cyclepath. “It’s hard to put your finger on that,” Quincy said.

“I always cycled growing up. I just found mountain biking to be so relaxing. You are in nature, there are no cars around, and you get into this state where you feel like in a movie. I think it’s that ‘flow’…”

“Let’s say I want to try it. Where can I start?” asked Quincy, teasing the idea of ​​maybe, just maybe, giving it a try.

“Well, you want a bike that can handle these trails. Ideally, you want some sort of suspension as well. Make sure you have a helmet on and go! It’s simple.” Quincy said with a smile.

“How about, in terms of location, where are the trails in Toronto? I’ve been near Crothers Woods recently, but that’s it.” I asked.

toronto mountain biking

Talking shop at Cyclepath in Toronto in Danforth. Photo by Jonathan Kravchenko.

They all go up and down with DVP, and they run along the entire valley. I’m sure there are some trails in the western end as well.”

As we spoke, it became clear that although the sport looks like it does to me from the outside, there are many safety precautions that riders take. Wearing a helmet is of course number one.

Some helmets have advanced systems such as ANGI. ANGI is a sensor that detects malfunctions or falls. If it detects you’ve had an accident, it sends you a text, and if you don’t answer to say you’re fine, a 911 call will be made including your exact location.

toronto mountain biking

Proper safety equipment is essential when riding potentially dangerous trails. Photo by Jonathan Kravchenko.

Many riders also wear a motorcycle-style jacket with special inlays that protect the spine and ribs in the event of a fall. However, there is always danger and the element of risk is always there.

Tragically, a few years ago, a young man died while riding the trails of Toronto. The cyclists I spoke to said he probably wasn’t wearing a helmet and was riding recklessly.

“This incident has brought the mountain biking community together.” Christian Biagini says: “Before we were this unknown group that few people know about. After the accident, the big questions started to arise. Who is wrong? What paths are part of the park? There are a lot of questions and not a lot of answers…”

The city’s involvement in mountain biking trails remains a hot topic among riders.

“Personally, I don’t think the city should not interfere.” Christian says. “I think it should stay the way it is. They let us do our thing, we let them do their work. What if they decide to invest everything? Then what? The tracks we ride freely, that are self-maintained, become someone’s money machine.”

toronto mountain biking

Mountain biking in Crothers Woods. Image via Tanya Mok.

Other riders, like Quincy Orta, differ in opinion. “I think we can use the city’s help. I think if the city does things the right way, we can make things safer for everyone.”

Right now, the community is thriving with an app called TrailForks for road and trail mapping. “It’s a bit like Strava, but it caters to mountain bikers,” Quincy said.

“It gives you the maps of the track and people can post their own photos and update the status. So if I go out and see it’s muddy, I can update the track status to say it’s not in good shape. Anyone can post the status or their photos. [of the trail]. ”

“Who keeps all the tracks?” I asked.

“I wish I knew,” Quincy said with a laugh. “Some of the trails are maintained by the city, but most are supposed to be walking trails, not cycling trails. As for who maintains the other ‘rogue’ trails, we like to call them ‘fairy trails.’ I have no idea who they are.” .”

toronto mountain biking

The mountain biking community says the “trail fairies” often keep trails and fix jumps at random. Image via Tanya Mok.

“Some days, you just show up and see the jump fixed. I think it says a lot about the mountain biking community as a whole. Like, it’s not that they’re doing it for influence or money. They’re just people wanting to help others. Great on the weather. The tracks are compact dirt, and they can be washed off easily if there’s enough rain.”

“I think we have [mountain biking] Perhaps the community, especially in Toronto, is the friendliest.” Quincy says.

If you have an apartment [tire] There, you can be sure that someone will stop by and help you. A new tube costs like ten bucks, but you know that with someone’s help, you’re creating a better community, and if you end up in their position, you know someone will help you too. What happened around us is coming.”

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