General Trail Information
Great Lakes Waterfront Trail
Protect, Connect and Celebrate the world's largest group of freshwater lakes.
Stretching over 1600 km along the Canadian shores of Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair, Lake Huron and the St Clair, Detroit, Niagara and St. Lawrence Rivers, the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail connects:
86 communities and First Nations
3 Great Lakes
4 Bi-national Rivers
3 UNESCO Biospheres
20 Provincial Parks
3 National Parks including Canada's First National Urban Park
21 National Historical Sites
394 municipal parks
64 conservation areas
121 beaches, including 13 Blue Flag awarded beaches
3 major wine regions
28 historical main streets
12 Bicycle Friendly Communities
16 Ontario By Bike Regions; 427 businesses designated as bike-friendly
12 international border crossings
Over 40 major connecting trails including the Greenbelt Route, Bruce Trail, Niagara River Recreation Trail.
Over the years, the Trail has served as a catalyst for the regeneration of Lake Ontario and has become a much-loved and well-used fitness, recreation and tourism attraction.
The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail consists of both on-road and off-road facilities. The trail is about 30% off-road along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, and about 10% off-road on the Lake Erie, Detroit River and Lake St Clair section. It is virtually all paved, with short sections of unpaved path and gravel roads.
Many downtown urban centers have fully off-road facilities that are open to pedestrians, cyclists, rollerbladers and others. The on-road sections consist of quiet residential streets, local roads, rural highways and connections.
Both interactive maps and free downloadable PDF maps are available to help you enjoy the Trail. Tourism information for each community can be found on our website with links to relevant tourism organizations.
The Trail can be enjoyed for a quick stroll or as part of a multi-day long distance adventure. Be sure to check out the following resources for more ideas on how to enjoy the trail:
- Interactive Map – Our mobile friendly interactive map can help you navigate the trail
- Download PDF Maps – Download and print free high quality PDF maps that you can bring with on the trail
- Family Friendly Ideas – Check out these family friendly sections of the trail, complete with attractions and activities for people of all ages to enjoy
- Suggested itineraries – Check out this section to find multi-day end-to-end trail itineraries complete with activities, mile markers, and maps
- Great Waterfront Trail Adventure- Register for an unforgettable cycling holiday. This multiday tour is fully supported and welcomes new cyclists, hardened veterans, and everybody in between
Canada's Great Lakes--Some Helpful Links
The Great Lakes Watefront Trail is both an enduring symbol for and an expression of a new commitment to our Great Lakes. Watch David Crombie, our founder, on the philosophical basis behind the Waterfront Trail.
Ontario Conservation Authorities--Ontario has 36 conservation authorities who are mandated to ensure the conservation, restoration of and responsible management of Ontario's water, land and natural habitats. They build and manage many of the beautiful waterfront parks and facilities along the Great Lakes.
Great Lakes Cities Initiative--Canadian and US Mayors collaborate to identify priorities and respond to issues facing the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Basin.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper--Canadian charity advocating for swimmable, drinkable, fishable watershed. They have developed an excellent app to advise people of the Lakes water quality near beaches. Check it out here.
Steve Paikin of the Agenda ran an excellent series of episodes examining the challenges facing the Great Lakes in October 2016 as part of Great Lakes Week. Watch the episodes.