Don River

Covering an area of approximately 36,000 hectares, the Don River stretches almost 38 km in length, flowing south from its headwaters on the Oak Ridges Moraine to the Keating Channel, where it empties into Lake Ontario.

Don River Watershed Features

With 1.4 million residents, the Don River watershed is one of the most urbanized in Canada.



The Don River valley and its network of trails provide a unique connection to nature in the heart of the city.

Walk the Don is a series of self-guided trail walks. Each includes a detailed trail map, level of difficulty, parking information, duration, and detailed points of interest along the way.

All routes use established trails and are suitable for family outings.

Burke Brook trail guide Burke Brook Guide
Follow a section of Burke Brook, a tributary of the West Don River, as it winds its way through a varied urban area. The walk begins where the stream is buried beneath a formal garden and ends as it flows naturally through a forested ravine.
East Don Parkland trail guide East Don Parkland Guide
Follow German Mills Creek and the East Don River as they meander through a lush forested ravine, wildflower meadows, and wetlands. The abundance of native species make this section of the East Don River well worth the exploration.
Forks of the Don trail guide Forks of the Don Guide
Begin along the West Don River, cross to the East Don, and then pass the Forks of the Don where the two tributaries unite to form the Lower Don. This section of the Don Valley, once heavily industrialized, now struggles to regain a natural state.
Lower Bartley Smith Greenway trail guide Lower Bartley Smith Greenway Guide
This walk follows the Upper West Don River in the City of Vaughan southwards from Langstaff Park on Langstaff Road to Steeles Avenue West.
Lower Don trail guide Lower Don Guide
Explore the Lower Don River, the site of one of the largest urban environmental restoration projects in the world.
Milne Hollow trail guide Milne Hollow Guide
Once an active industrial site in the 19th century, Milne Hollow demonstrates how a natural green space, two railways, and an expressway can co-exist in an urban environment, yet give the feeling of being in the wilderness.
Mud Creek trail guide Mud Creek – Lost Rivers Loop Guide
Experience a walk along routes of three buried waterways, all hidden from public view decades ago in the interest of progress. Enjoy the natural serenity of living ponds on the former site of Toronto’s largest brick works, right in the heart of the city.
Taylor Massey Creek trail guide Taylor Massey Creek Guide
The Taylor family of paper mill fame owned the land west of Dawes Road to the Forks of the Don and the Massey Family’s Dentonia Farm occupied the land east of Dawes Road to Pharmacy Avenue.
Wilket Creek trail guide Wilket Creek Guide
This loop offers a series of contrasts. The walk begins in manicured gardens, meanders through an ever-changing and challenged valley, climbs the shore of an ancient lake and descends into the wider valley of the West Don River.

Issues & Challenges

Intense urbanization and the preponderance of paved surfaces throughout the Don River watershed means fewer opportunities for stormwater to seep into the soil or be taken up by vegetation.

As a result, much of the stormwater runs off the surface into the Don River, resulting in streambank erosion and increased flooding during storm events.

Combined sewers (carrying both stormwater and sanitary sewage) still exist in Toronto. Excessive runoff from large storm events can cause these sewers to overflow into the river, affecting water quality.

Nevertheless, despite the challenges of urbanization, the landscape of the Don River is slowly being regenerated and revitalized.

Today, the Don Valley and its network of trails provide people with a unique connection to nature in the heart of the city.

cyclist on Don River trail

Current Projects & Initiatives


Don River Watershed Plan: Beyond Forty Steps (2009)


Current Conditions Reports provide technical background information to support the watershed planning process. The reports below have been prepared in support of the 2009 Don River Watershed Plan.

Watershed Report Cards

Watershed report cards provide an evaluation of watershed health and an ongoing call to action.