A go-to favourite for runners of Toronto, the Martin Goodman Trail (often lovingly referred to as “the MGT”) stretches nearly 20 km along the Toronto waterfront, from Mimico in the west to the Beaches in the east.
If you were to start in the west and run east, you would first encounter the beautiful Humber Bay Bridge, a landmark of the waterfront with spectacular views of the Toronto skyline. From there the MGT parallels Sunnyside Boardwalk, so you have the choice of running on the boardwalk or pavement. As you run closer to the city, you will pass a number of historic Toronto structures, including the century-old Palais Royale dance hall and event space, the Boulevard Club, established in 1905, and Branch 344 of the Royal Canadian Legion.
At the top of a hill beside the Legion and the Argonaut Rowing Club (a hill infamous for its inclusion in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and Half-Marathon), you enter Marilyn Bell Park, named for the first person to swim across Lake Ontario. To the north you will see the extensive grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition, an annual summer fair established in 1879. Within the Exhibition grounds, the big red BMO Field, home of the Toronto FC, looms large. A little further on, to the south, the former amusement park and entertainment area known as Ontario Place can be seen. A variety of special events, festivals, and concerts continue to take place here throughout the year, and IMAX movies are shown in the enormous Cinesphere, the world’s first permanent IMAX theatre constructed in 1971.
As the CN Tower looms closer, the trail cuts through Coronation Park opposite the regal Princes’ Gate, the monumental entrance to Exhibition Place constructed in 1927 for the 60th anniversary of Canadian confederation. Beyond Coronation Park sits Billy Bishop Airport, a city airport accessible by ferry or underground tunnel.
Running south of the downtown core, look to your left and then way, way up for a view of the 553.3 m-high CN Tower and the huge white dome of the Rogers Centre, proud home of the Toronto Blue Jays. Running further east, past the Harbourfront Centre and Queens Quay where you can catch ferries to visit the Toronto islands, you will cross some major Torontonian streets: Bay Street, home of Toronto’s financial district and stock market, then Yonge Street, often recognized as the longest street in the world, though its 1,896 km are now contested due to name changes.
Heading into the east end of the city, you will pass the Redpath Sugar Refinery, the Redpath Sugar Museum, and the sweetly named Sugar Beach. As you turn right off Lakeshore onto Cherry Street, you will cross over the Keating Channel and run into the Lower Don Lands. The street ends at the picturesque Cherry Beach, with its lake-side windsurfing and boating clubs, but the MGT continues to the east with a forested trail leading to Tommy Thomson Park and the Leslie Street Spit. The spit is a 5km extension of environmentally sensitive recreational land which juts out into the lakefront. Protected by the Toronto Region Conservation Authority, you can explore the trails while taking in the diverse bird species, lush plant life, and breathtaking views of the skyline.
Back on the lakeshore, the MGT continues east, past Ashbridge’s Bay and into the eastern waterfront known as The Beaches where you can stay on the paved trail, run parts on the boardwalk, or take to the sandy beach for an added challenge. At its most eastern extent, the MGT officially ends at Balmy Beach, though few runners can make it out there without pushing themselves another half-mile east to the R. C. Harris Water Treatment Plant for a drink from some of the coolest water around! There’s a reason that it has been nicknamed “the fountain of youth.” Once you feel refreshed and rejuvenated, turn around and do it all again from a new west-bound perspective! But don’t worry, you don’t need to run another 20 km to get back – you can also just jump on the Queen Street streetcar, part of the Toronto Transit Authority (TTC) network, take a well-deserved seat, and ride back into the downtown core.