Skating by John Vetterli
If you want to get in shape during the summer time, there’s nothing better than hitting the streets on your inline skates! Theory has it that every single minute spent on inline skates helps to condition and tone your butt, calves, quads, hamstrings, and even abdomen (think about the swimsuits you can’t avoid soon!) Good news for all the inline skating fans in Toronto is that our city is a great place for our kind and provides awesome terrain and conditions for the sport, so that even those like me who never learned how to brake on the skates can enjoy this sport without worrying about getting hit by a car. Check out our tips for the best trails, clubs, shops, and skating facilities in the Toronto area.
On the Martin Goodman Trail
by Wanda Gould
Martin Goodman Trail binds Stadium Road (near Bathurst and Lakeshore) and Humber River. By many, it’s considered to be the best place to skate in the city, since the trail more or less continuously runs along the waterfront in a series of parks. Even though you have to endure a couple of driveways crossings here, traffic is not a problem. The quality of the path varies of course, but generally the trail is wide and flat with nice asphalt used. The longest high-quality stretch of pathway starts after leaving Coronation Park and extends all the way to Park Lawn Road. On the other hand, the pathway is so popular that it often becomes overcrowded with pedestrians, especially during warm summer evenings. Additionally, geese can be a problem during the spring and fall season.
The eastern part of Martin Goodman Trail is located between Jarvis Street and Eastern along the Beaches. This nice trail is a good place to skate except for the fact that in order to get through the section between Jarvis Street and Bathurst Street, it’s necessary to skate on the sidewalk and on the road. On the other hand, there’s a long newly constructed section running from Leslie Street, past Coxwell all the way to the Beaches. The great thing about the trail is the amazing variety of different surroundings that skaters pass on the way. When skaters pass the abandoned brown fields full of interesting industrial sites, the natural beauty of Cherry Beach steps in, just to be replaced by the well kept parkland at the Beaches. The possible inconvenience of the trails at the Lake Shore Boulevard section shows up whenever south wind starts blowing and carries along an unpleasant smell of the sewage treatment plant located nearby.
The Leslie Street Spit is a result of a huge project that was initiated in the 1950s to shelter the harbour area as well as the Toronto Islands from possible storm damage by constructing an enormous projection out into Lake Ontario. Its name is taken from Leslie Street, since it stretches south and west from the its bottom. For quite a long time, the spit served as a cheap dump for any construction material, and even these days, broken concrete is dumped here — that’s why the area is only open to the public during weekends. Overall, the skating route you can take here is about a 10-kilometre long round trip. The best and most enjoyable part of the trail is the newly upgraded asphalt section between the floating bridge and the lighthouse. The skating experience there is absolutely amazing. Windy weather is a usual complaint of skaters and the Leslie Street Spit is exception. Trees are spare and cannot really provide an effective protective shield, so the skaters have to fight their way against the wind on the way out, while the way back in is much easier with the wind blowing from their back.
Toronto Waterfront Trail by Rob
The Waterfront Trail starts at First Street in Toronto and runs through Long Branch all the way to Port Credit. It’s part of the whole system called the Waterfront Trail System (just like the trails introduced earlier.) However, there’s one huge negative connected to Waterfront Trail: it mostly requires skaters to use the sidewalk or the street. On the other hand, the whole trail is located in a laid-back and quiet residential area and parkland, so cars cause no problems. Asphalt and quality of the trail is great for most of the time. When skating on the Waterfront Trail for the first time, get ready to get lost, since sometimes the route can get a bit confusing. To avoid too many unnecessary detours, just follow a simple general rule and stick as closely to the lake as possible. One last tip: the Port Credit harbour area is a neat place for skaters; try to explore the area west of the harbour near Saddington Park.
Toronto Islands by Daniela
The Toronto Islands are one of the most enjoyable places to skate in Toronto. Going there is always a nice trip that starts by taking a ferry from Bay Street (about $6 for each ride). Go to the islands as early in the morning as you can to avoid long queues. Describing the route would make no sense, since there’s an unlimited number of possibilities you’re free to combine while exploring the islands (for example, skating around the unique communities that still remain on Algonquin Island is quite an experience.) Most pathways are in decent shape and lead to basically all the major attractions of the area. Thanks to the new asphalt, the road near the Ward’s Island Ferry Dock as well as the pathway between the Tram Departure Station and the school, all located on Centre Island, are probably the most skating-friendly spots on the islands. The Toronto Islands are designed as a place for leisure, so if you get tired, just stop by one of the numerous stalls or little restaurants to get some refreshments.
The east branch of the Humber River, located north of the 401, is probably the best route for ravine skating in Toronto. For almost 10 kilometres, skaters can enjoy a pretty wide, high-quality asphalt pathway with few hills. Furthermore, the numerous pedestrian bridges crossing the river are probably some the nicest bridge constructions in the city. Generally, there aren’t too many people here, which makes the skating even more fun. When choosing this path, it’s best to start from the tennis courts on the Albion Road and move to the north. The most pleasurable section on a new and very well made asphalt leads from a huge pedestrian bridge to the east side of the river, right under the 401. From all the routes introduced in this post, skating along the Humber River trail brings the most intense feeling of being actually out of the city for a while. There are plenty of trees and lush green lining the picturesque bank of the river.
7. Hamilton Beach Trail
Undoubtedly one of the best places to skate in the whole GTA, you will probably meet many pro skaters from Toronto training along the Hamilton Beach Trail on Saturdays and Sunday mornings. The main advantage of this trail is its width and the fact that there is no traffic or intersections along the way. Approximately 8 km long, you can keep track of the distance you left behind as there are meter markings along the way. The trail itself is quite flat (with a minor hill near the 7000 m Mark) and extremely smooth. It is easily reached by simply taking the QEW and exiting at Eastport/North Shore. Just stay on Eastport, which is the exit road, for another mile and a half, cross the lift bridge and the parking lot is about 400 m further on your left.
Best Inline Skating Facilities
Inline Skating by Hobvias
1. The Rinx
The Rinx have three ice rinks as well as Toronto’s largest in-line skating rink. That sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Skate rentals are available onsite together with the possibility of making a private event booking with a great theme.
Address: 65 Orfus Road
Cummer Skateboard Park is Toronto’s very first concrete skateboard park for all the freestyle lovers, including boarders, bladers, and BMXers. There’s no admission fee and no supervision, so enter the site at your own risk.
Address: 6000 Leslie Street
3. City of Toronto Arenas/Rinks
No address here, just note that many of the ice rinks around the city are used for public inline skating during the summer season, so check out the one closest to your apartment.
Inline Skating Clubs
Skater by Very Quiet
Toronto inline Skating Club was founded in 1991 and became one of the first clubs that aimed at bringing outdoor roller and inline speed skating closer to Canadians. Even today, it’s one of the most prominent and largest clubs in the field, while it remains a volunteer organization. To join the club, you don’t have to worry about the quality of your equipment or the level of your skill; everyone is welcome and as long as the skates roll, they are just fine. The program of the club focuses on developing proper skating technique and agility while showing members how to best appreciate the fun and freedom that skating provides without risking their own safety. Personal development is ensured by placing new members in different ability groups that focus on the needs of the individuals. If you’re interested in becoming a professional or a semi-professional skater, this club can help you to reach your goal. Contact the club by writing to email@example.com to get more information.
Toronto Trailbladers is a non-formal organization of roller blading fans who decided to create a club where they could meet, enjoy the outdoors, and have fun together with other skaters. Unlike Toronto Inline Skating Club, Toronto Trailbladers don’t have any ambition to professionalize their hobby. Members of the club simply meet throughout the Toronto area during afternoons or weekends and hit the routes in a cheerful atmosphere. Rolls are organized three times a week and every weekend from June to September. Toronto Trailbladers put emphasis on building leg and core strength, but don’t over-exercise — socializing afterwards is just as important as the rollerblading itself. You can join the 2012 season by simply downloading and filling out a short application form and paying a symbolic fee of $40 (official Toronto Trailbladers athletic shirt included!)
If you’d like to use the help of a certified in-line skating instructor to teach you all the tricks of Rollerblading or in-line speedskating, there are many opportunities to learn from the best! With a Level II Certificate by the International Skating Association, the USSG and by SkateIA and armed with experiences to give both individual and group lessons, Stephen Fisher is your guy. Check out the website to find the most suitable lessons for you.
Toronto Friday Night Skate
The City’s best skate – every Friday night!
If you want to have some fun while seeing the sights, lights, and excitement of Toronto on a Friday night, come on out for one of the most enjoyable skates in the city, with some of the nicest, friendliest skaters you’ll ever meet. This skating group meets every Friday (weather permitting, because it’s off when the pavements are too wet) on the north-east corner of Yonge & Bloor (between 9:45 and 10:00 pm) and departs at 10:00 pm. These skate rides are a regular Friday night event from the beginning of June until the end of September. The routes vary depending upon what is happening in the city that night so you will never get bored.
Please note that this is a street skate and not meant for beginners or those uncomfortable with skating on the street, and also not a speed skate or competition. The best part is that as the routes are in the downtown, you can leave the group anytime and hop on TTC if your legs are burning. If you can’t make it to the start, but want to join the group enroute, call Gordon Simbrow at (647) 987-5523 and find out where the group is at the moment and where can you meet.
Toronto Inline Skate Retailers
1. Shop Task
Canada’s largest inline skate shop, truly specialized in skating. Turn to the skilled shop assistants for advice to get the best skates for your needs.
Address: 1624 Queen Street East
Located at the Waterfront Area, Wheel Excitement offers city’s largest selection of bicycles and rollerblades for rent and sale and provide first-class service for any problems you may encounter with the equipment, seven days a week.
Adress: 249 Queen’s Quay West
Sporting Life doesn’t specialize in skates, but due to the considerable size of their selection and skilled staff, keen skaters are likely to find what they’re looking for here.
Address: 2655 Yonge Street / 2454 Yonge Street
This new fresh shop established by two passionate enterpreneurs in 2011 offers top quality inline rollerblades, frames, wheels and other accessories – anything that a keen inline skater will ever need. Working together with the best brands such as SEBA (designed by the freestyle skating legend and world champion Sébastien Laffargue),GYRO, TruRev, FILA and Mogema, they are bringing you high end gear for reasonable prices!
Address: online shop, Local Pick-up and service locations in Thornhill and Oakville