In 2015, Toronto hosted the Pan Am Games and unveiled the Pan Am Path! This multi-use trail runs from the most north-easterly point of the city (Claireville Dam where Toronto borders the city of Brampton), south to the lakeshore, and all the way east to Rouge Park where Toronto borders the city of Pickering. That’s 85 kilometres! Sections of this route already existed, but the city connected the separate trails to create one big mega-trail across our huge megacity.
As you can see on the map, the trail still has some blank spots, labelled “on-road connections”, but it’s a big improvement from what it was before.
So in the Fall of 2015, we tackled half of the route, the Pan Am Path West – Humber River Trail. It was an amazing ride and we took a ton of pictures, and three years later I’m finally getting around to sorting through the best of the best and sharing it all here…
TTC to Humber College North Campus
First things first, we decided this was not going to be a round trip, so we needed to get to the Pan Am Path’s starting point all the way up at the north-west border of Toronto. Neither of us take transit very much (why would we when we have bikes?), but Google maps came through for us. The recommended transit route: take the Line 2 subway all the way west to Kipling station, then catch the 927B Highway 27 Express bus to Humber College’s north campus.
Once at Humber, we backtracked through the Humber Arboretum…
… to the beginning of the Pan Am Path at the Claireville Dam.
Pan Am Path: Claireville Dam to the 401 Expressway
There are plenty of signs marking the trail.
And also workout apparatuses spaced along the trail.
This section also crosses the hydro corridor. Look closely in the bottom left corner and you can see Pier waving before he crosses the bridge.
And then we arrive at the 401 underpass!
This is probably the most necessary infrastructure when cycling in the north end of Toronto. Up here the streets driving over this behemoth of a highway are also big and fast, so cyclists need their own separated path to safely cross the 401 divide. And to make the under-the-highway area a little more inviting, graffiti art was commissioned here too.
Pan Am Path: St. Phillips Stairs to Scarlett Mills Park (at Eglinton Ave)
Shortly after cycling under the 401, the trail dumps you onto a residential side street (Cardell Ave), which leads to Weston Rd. You need to cycle on Weston Rd for a couple blocks (follow the sharrow bike markings in the right hand lane), and just after you pass under the rail bridge, the road forks—Weston Rd goes left and St Phillips Rd goes right. Go right and you’ll see the trail right there.
We took the left trail to the stairs (the right trail probably avoids the stairs).
A couple minutes later we were biking under St Phillips Rd with this amazing graffiti art! This was part of the Pan Am Path Art Relay, a games-inspired art project. This particular piece is a collaboration between UrbanArts and artist Dan Bergeron. It explores the legacy of Hurricane Hazel which hit Toronto in 1954.
Shortly after, we rolled into Cruickshank Park.
After Cruickshank Park, the path continues under Lawrence Ave and through Weston Lions Park to an old rail bridge crossing over the Humber River. Here we found a memorial to Hurricane Hazel that flooded the Humber River right over this bank and bridge in 1954.
Then the trail continues to Eglinton Ave.
At Eglinton, you can take the Pan Am Path right (west) to Centennial Park, or keep going straight (south) into Scarlett Mills Park. We went straight…
Pan Am Path: Scarlett Mills Park to Lakeshore
There’s a slight uphill into James Gardens, but that’s no problem, especially since it’s been downhill this whole time. And of course, what goes up must come down.
Then the trail crosses the Humber River again alongside a train bridge…
And we arrive at the Dundas Street West bridge where we find more Pan Am Path Art.
And pretty shots of dams on the Humber River.
When we started our ride, we saw hardly anyone on the trail. Once we crossed Eglinton Ave we saw more people, but still not crowds. However, the farther south we got, the more crowded the Pan Am Path become, and by the time we got to the Old Mill area, the trail was quite busy.
Finally, we arrive at the iconic Humber Bay Arch Bridge!
By this time we are super hungry, so we book it back along the Martin Goodman Trail section of the Pan Am Path and stop at our favourite Polish restaurant, Cafe Polonez, for some yummy eats.
In conclusion, we highly recommend this ride! It’s full of beautiful scenery, fun art, great places to picnic, and best of all, it’s neat to cycle through the different areas of Toronto because the city changes so much from north to south.
Next year, we’ll have to do the east side of the Pan Am Path!