MEC trail race at Heart Lake

Heart Lake Conservation Area, Brampton

Run shady trails with a zipline finish

Trail / Hike

Beginner-friendly

Full day

Heart Lake Conservation Area is located in Brampton, but you’d never know it. A trail run here takes you through large forested areas, meadows, picnic zones and even around a natural kettle lake (yes, it’s kind of shaped like a heart). After your run, there’s enough here to keep you busy for a full day under – and above – the trees.

Heart Lake Conservation Area, Brampton

Heart Lake Conservation Area, Brampton, ON, Canada

Get Directions

Driving time from North York

35 minutes

Trails to explore

11km

How to cool off after your run

1000ft zipline across the lake

Planning your run

Make the most out of your day on the trails

What to expect

Located in the north end of Brampton on Heart Lake Road, this conservation area is a popular place to visit during the summer months. There’s a huge swimming pool, splash pad, treetop trekking and ziplines, boat rentals and picnic sites. But back to why we’re here: the park’s trail system have a sweet variety of terrain and elevation, which makes it a great place to lace up for an interesting and challenging trail run.

Note: This is a TCRA conservation park, so there’s a small admission to enter, which goes to supporting recreation in the Toronto area.

 

The lay of the land

The trails at Heart Lake explore and criss-cross a number of different glacial features connected by a few staircases and platforms. This varied landscape ensures your run won’t be boring, and the park offers lots of scenic areas and shady trees to weave around.

Try the trail that runs right alongside the lake, which are perfect for an action shot or to give you something an extra boost through the last stretch of your run. The Terry Fox trail is a popular 3km loop with lots of terrain variation, corners and the steepest typical slope of 6.3% (and tops out at a maximum slope of 38%). It’s a great training loop that passes by the parking lot each time, which makes it a convenient spot to rest and stash water or energy gels if you’re combining trails together to make a longer route.

Events and races

Each year, Heart Lake hosts different events and races, from traditional running meets to more unique events such as a Dragon Boat festival. The park normally hosts the Peel high school regionals for cross-country and occasionally the provincials, which attracts some of Ontario’s best runners to these trails.

It’s also been home to local running series like MEC trail races – these races are an excellent way to explore some of the trails and parks in your region (they’re also a good deal). Keep an eye on where the Ontario race series is heading next.

Beyond the trails

One thing that makes Heart Lake an awesome running destination is the potential for post-run things to do. Some ideas to make a day of it? Pack up some snacks and a blanket, and have a cooldown picnic with your run buddy under a shady tree. Bring your bathing suit and hit the pool (fantastic after a sweaty run). Or if you’re up for something a little different, you can zipline across the lake and work through obstacles in the trees with Treetop Trekking.

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