Updated: July 2021
It’s pretty ironic that if you want to ride your bike lots, you need a car. And by ironic, I mean annoying. I’m jealous of people who can toss their bikes in the back of a car and head off to the country in search of cool trails and scenery The whole reason I started cycling in Toronto in the first place is because I don’t drive.
Which is why I’m thrilled that you can take your bike on Go Trains and Go Buses to get out the city the easy way. There’s even a special car just for bikes on some Go Trains to Niagara Falls.
The good news is you can take your bike on Go Transit.
Go Transit is a regional public transportation system that serves the Greater Toronto Area and much of the “Golden Horseshoe” around Lake Ontario. It’s also quite bike-friendly. I’ve taken my bike on Go Train and Go Bus for cycling day trips to some of the most beautiful natural attractions around. Here’s how to go and what to know.
Go Bus bike rack to the Hamilton waterfalls
Every Go Bus has a front rack that fits two bikes. They are simple to use, but you might want to watch a short tutorial if you’ve never used a bus bike rack before. And don’t worry, the rack design really does hold your bike in place safely, even on the highway. You just need to remove anything that’s not bolted down (bike lock, removable basket, lights, etc.) There’s no need to rush, they’ll wait for you.
My friend Carolyn and I used the Go Bus bike racks to visit the Hamilton Waterfalls. You know the waterfalls your friends who moved to Hamilton for affordable real estate keep telling you that make it worth the move out there? Those! We chose to ride to Albion Falls, because they are the prettiest and the bike route is via the forested Escarpment Rail Trail path. (I’m still a Goth Girl; shade is important.)
It’s only about 10km ride from the Go Station to Albion falls, but it’s a steady ascent. Which means impressive views from the top and an easy coast back down when you are done. Albion Falls themselves are very popular, so biking there is a perfect way to visit without the hassle of finding parking. There’s a hiking trail around if you want to stretch your legs.
On our trip we also visited Gage Park, which was hosting some kind of summer fair. I bought my now-favourite sunhat there, and we had slushies before heading back to the actual big city.
I’m a cycling enthusiast that cares more about using my bike to see new things than how far or how fast I can ride. So this was a perfect easy, affordable bike-bus day trip.
The Bike Car Go Train to Niagara Falls!
You can take your bike on Go Transit to Niagara Falls year round but it’s best on weekends in the summer when they dedicate entire cars on a special train for bikes. I do believe this is one of the best day trips you can do from Toronto.
Look for the much larger bike symbol stickers on the windows for the special bike cars, or just follow all the cyclists. You’ll secure your bike in a row of racks – it can get full, and require some jostling to fit into a slot. Be friendly.
If you’re nervous about keeping eyes on your bike, you can of course stand there beside it for the whole two hours, or check on it at stops along the way. I just trust the universe and go sit upstairs to relax for the ride.
Where to go when you get to Niagara Falls? I like to bike the Niagara River Recreational Trail north to Niagara-on-the-Lake. It’s about 20km to Niagara-on-the-Lake from the train station, mostly gently undulating with one steeper section of the Niagara Escarpment. (You can do it! Or just walk it up.)
You pass many good lookouts like the Niagara Whirlpool, Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, and Brock Monument in Queenston. So depending on how much you like to stop and look out, allow time for that. And my favourite attraction: Walker’s Country Market, the best place to stop for a snack!
The special Niagara Falls Go Train runs on Saturdays and Sundays year-round, and you can pre-purchase a return ticket through Niagara Parks that also includes 48 hours of the local transit system WeGo. (Which also has bike racks.) There are two return buses at night if you’re day tripping. If you take the last one home (11pm departure), you get to see the illuminated Niagara Falls at night.
I’ve done this train three times now and it’s become a treasured summer tradition. For more inspiration, read about my favourite free things to see biking from Niagara Falls to Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Go Train to bike Rouge Beach and beyond
You can also take your bike on any Go Train. Look for the bike symbol stickers on the outside of the cars, which indicate space for two bikes (and for you to sit down to keep watch/hang onto the bike; you don’t lock it up.) There are a few restrictions, like you can’t take bikes into Union Station during rush hours, but for weekend trips this is generally hassle-free.
I’ve used the Lakeshore West Go Train several times to head East and ride the Waterfront Trail. (I live in on the West side in Parkdale, so going to Pickering qualifies as getting out of town.) The best part is that the Rouge Hill station is right beside the trail, like, right beside it, and from there you can just ride as far as you feel like, then turn around and hop back on to go home.
This part of the Waterfront Trail is full of fine lake views as it twists alongside the shore. If you head east towards Ajax, you also get a closer look at the nuclear power plant, a detour around Frenchman’s Bay, and the feeling of jealousy at how upscale the Ajax Waterfront Park is. I like to go as far as Lakeside Park, about 20km each way.
Or you could just go to the beach. Rouge National Urban Park is a super quick 2km ride from the Rouge Go station, with one of Toronto’s best beaches. In the other direction, it’s just 4km to East Point Park, past my favourite lookout, at Port Union. This short ride is very relaxing – mostly flat and right by the water. If you are trying to convince a pal to ride more, take them here!
Tell me where to go next! If you take your bike on Go Transit or use any public transportation to go on bike trips I want to know where!