During a short two-week trip to Toronto I still managed to squeeze in a few hikes. Quite different from the typical trails and dramatic views of Hong Kong, these treks were enjoyable nonetheless. Last weekend it was an out-of-town trip to a conservation area; this week, an urban hike right in the city along the Taylor Creek and Don River waterways to the downtown core.
Toronto is a very green city, with many parks and bike-, jog-, and dog-friendly trails. However the networks of trails are not always easy to find, as they are not well documented or signposted; and besides, regular users of the trails are probably happy to keep these treasures hidden in plain view. A prime example is the Don Valley Recreational Trail, a bike and jogging path that runs along the Don River and the adjacent Don Valley Parkway, one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares. I’ve always known that the trail existed, and have often glimpsed parts of it from the highway. Now, after 20 years in Toronto, I’ve finally walked it!
Our hike starts in the east end of the city, at Victoria Park subway station in Scarborough. Here we follow the Taylor Creek trail westwards until it joins the Don River and the valley trail that heads south towards downtown. The weather was again perfect for hiking – blue skies and little windchill. The recent heavy rains had given way to another deep freeze, so the trails were a mix of snow, ice, and frozen slush. Some sections were very slippery whereas other parts were completely waterlogged, so waterproof footwear with good traction was definitely a bonus. Throughout the route, evidence abound of the big icestorm in December – city maintenance crews were still cleaning up the damage done to the trees.
At the bottom of the Don trail, we turn westwards following the bike trail under the Gardiner Expressway, finally ending at the Distillery Historic District. With a total distance of just under 15km, and only a gradual descent following the river downstream, this was a relatively easy hike. The only challenge was not slipping on the icy sections, and keeping our feet dry…
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