One of the nagging, unresolved questions in fusion theory is concerned with the extent of the edge. Gyrokinetic particle simulations of toroidal ion temperature gradient turbulence spreading using the gyrokinetic toroidal code [Z. Lin, T. S. Hahm, W. W. Lee, W. M. Tang, and R. B. White, Science 281, 1835 (1998)] and its related dynamical model have been extended to a system with radially varying ion temperature gradient, in order to study the inward spreading of edge turbulence toward the core plasma. Due to such spreading, the turbulence intensity in the core region is significantly enhanced over the value obtained from the simulations of the core region only, and the precise boundary of the edge region is blurred. Even when the core gradient is within the Dimits shift regime (i.e., dominated by self-generated zonal flows which reduce the transport to a negligible value), a significant level of turbulence can penetrate to the core due to spreading from the edge. The scaling of the turbulent front propagation speed is closer to the prediction from a nonlinear diffusion model than from the one based on linear toroidal coupling. © 2005 American Institute of Physics.