Great Lakes Waterfront Trail
Protect, Connect and Celebrate the world’s largest group of freshwater lakes.
What is the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail?
Breathtaking scenery stretching over 3600km, the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail is a signed route connecting 155 communities and First Nations along the Canadian shores of the Great Lakes region. It is a signature project of the Waterfront Regeneration Trust, a charity committed to protecting, connecting and celebrating the world’s largest body of freshwater. Regarded as the first step towards a regenerated waterfront, the Trail re-connects people to the water and is a catalyst for improvements in many of the communities it joins.
The Trail consists of both on-road and off-road facilities. About 30% of the Trail is off-road along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, about 14% is off-road on the Lake Erie, Detroit River and Lake St Clair section, and roughly 4% is off-road along the North Channel between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury. The route is primarily paved, with sections of unpaved path and gravel roads.
The Trail can be enjoyed for a quick stroll or as part of a multi-day long distance adventure. Many downtown urban centres 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 in a few places Provincial Highways.
The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail connects:
- 155Communities, villages and First Nations
- 3Great Lakes, touching a fourth, Lake Superior in Prince Township
- 5Bi-national Rivers
- 4UNESCO Biospheres
- 42Provincial Parks
- 6National Parks including Canada’s First National Urban Park
- 23National Historical Sites
- 520Waterfront parks
- 83Conservation areas (protected wetlands, forests, meadows)
- 239Beaches, including 21 Blue Flag awarded beaches
- 3Major wine regions
- 25Bicycle Friendly Communities
- 16Ontario By Bike Regions; and hundreds of businesses designated as bike-friendly
- 12International border crossings
- 50+Major connecting trails including the Greenbelt Route, Bruce Trail, Ganaraska Hiking Trail, Niagara River Recreation Trail, Saugeen and Bruce County Rail Trails and the Voyageur Trail. Many sections of the GLWT are designated as part of the cross-Canada Great Trail
“The essence of greenways is connections—not simply connecting recreational areas through trails, but connecting wildlife habitats to each other, human communities to other human communities, city to country, people to nature….Existing parks and natural areas in the bioregion are the basic building blocks of a greenway system.” –– Regeneration: Toronto’s Waterfront and the Sustainable City. The Final Report of the Crombie Commission