Canada, as many of you know, experiences very cold winters when the temperatures range from -5°C to -30°C. Toronto, in comparison to the northern parts of Canada, is spared the extreme temperatures such as -30°C but it’s still pretty cold. For this reason and for the ease of commute, the City Of Toronto has constructed the PATH.
So… what is the PATH?
The PATH is an underground pathway system that connects many commercial buildings, the subway system, and some tourist attractions in downtown Toronto. The advantage of such a pathway is to help people easily move between buildings without the need to go outside, which proves to be a huge benefit, especially in winter.
The PATH network is massive and spans 130 km in length. New users are sometimes intimidated by its complexity and feel like they have entered a labyrinth. However, once you understand how to interpret the color code system, it’s easier to navigate. Check out my complete guide below which will help make things a lot easier.
To help people get a sense of where they are and which direction they should go, the PATH has maps all along the passageway. So, if you feel you are lost, look around and you’ll find one these maps that show you your location. Here’s a sample of the map that’s posted on the corridors. You can also download the PDF to your phone from the link. You can also find a newer more simplified map of the PATH here.
In addition to maps, there are signboards through out to help you. The signboards give you complete information on your location and the direction you should take.
As you see in the picture above, there are arrows of different colors on the board. These colors indicate the four cardinal directions of North, South, East and West. To understand the color-code used see the list below:
If you find that remembering the color code is a hassle, you’ll find the directional information in the signboard itself. For example, in the picture above, you’ll see that the signboard first tells you your current position, that is Scotia Plaza; then it says to the North, you’ll find Bay Adelaide Centre and to the South, you’ll find the Commerce Court.
As you see, with the help of such signboards, it’s very easy to navigate the path and it no longer feels like a maze.
The PATH is not just a series of boring passages that connect buildings, it’s filled with shops and restaurants and is a tourist attraction in its own right. It also has access to other famous attractions in downtown Toronto. The complete list of tourist attractions accessible by the PATH is :
In case of attractions like the Brookfield place, The Hockey Hall of Fame, Air Canada Centre and the Roy Thomson Hall the enclosed pathway takes you all the way into the building. However, in the case of CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium Of Canada, and the Rogers Centre the last part of the route is outdoors. It also includes an enclosed above-ground skywalk as shown in the picture.
To reach the skywalk, follow the underground route to the Union Station. From the Union Station, walk up a flight of stairs to reach the Great Hall. From the Great Hall, follow signboards leading you toward the skywalk which will lead you to the CN Tower.
As mentioned before, the PATH has many shops and restaurants. Infact, it has over 1200 shops and restaurants ranging from high-end brands to local businesses. It has direct access to popular shopping malls in Toronto such as The Eaton Centre, The Hudson’s Bay and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Some hotels in downtown have a direct connection to the PATH providing their customers the easy of connecting to the subway and other attractions. Here’s a list of hotels that are directly on the PATH
If you refer to the map shown here , the subway stations are clearly marked in yellow. Specifically, the subway stations – College, Dundas, Queen, King, Union, St.Andrew, Osgoode, St.Patrick and Queen’s Park stations are all on this walkway. It also has has access to GO Train station and GO Bus Terminal at Union Station and Toronto Coach Terminal.
During weekdays, the PATH is abuzz with people commuting to and fro from work and usually, there’s a mad rush to get to the subway stations in the evenings. However, on weekends some parts of the PATH almost look like a scene right out of an apocalyptic zombie flick. While the walkway itself is open, the restaurants and shops are closed giving it a deserted appearance as seen in the picture above.
If you are looking for a free tour of this walkway, check out the free walking tour run by The Tour Guys. The walking tour is a free 90 min tour of downtown Toronto where they also take you down to explore parts of the PATH. Especially, if the weather is bad the entire tour is done using the PATH. Check them out!
I hope you now have all the information you need to explore this underground walkway on your visit to Toronto. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments. Also, if you found this article useful, please don’t forget to share it on social media.
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