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Where to start
To get onto the trails and the elevated boardwalk of Hendrie Valley (pdf), there a few major access points to choose from. The most popular entryway is through the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) Centre, but for this 7km run route you’ll start out west of the RBG, down the road and across from the Laking Garden. This entry point takes you straight on to the Grindstone Marsh Trail.
Running made easy
With smooth trails and a boardwalk that covers the wetlands around Grindstone Creek, this is the perfect playground for any runner looking to enjoy nature without suffering through steep trails. The relatively flat profile of the valley is nice for beginner runners, but is still conducive to great speed workouts or even short tempo runs.
This specific route goes all the way through Hendrie Valley to Hidden Valley Park, following Grindstone Creek the whole way. You’ll loop back to the same place you started from, but you can also split off at the end towards the RBG centre to see the gardens before you head home.
Fresh air potential
While running through the actual Royal Botanical Gardens isn’t allowed, you can still enjoy your surroundings. Hendrie is home to a variety of migratory birds, including a protected area for bald eagles, and it’s been under the protection of the gardens since 1941. Known for floodplain wetlands, carved footpaths and natural scenery, it’s easy to see why Hendrie Valley is dubbed a sanctuary.
Extend your route
While this particular run is only 7km, there are many more trails to explore. Some trails are crushed gravel or paved, and others are elevated boardwalks or packed dirt (or sometimes mud if it’s been raining). Along the way, look for birds, raccoons, muskrats and lots of chipmunks hanging around.