Crothers' Woods (The Bike Trail)

Back at Crothers' Woods.  This time to check out more of the bike trails, and not just the natural, untouched settings surrounding the forests.  Some of the trails are really challenging and not for beginners.  When I am not feeling sure of some the hills, I remain on the foot trails at times when I'm a little less than confident.  I'll just use my bike as an excuse.  

The forest is a cool place to be in an otherwise hot day though.  I am not looking forward to when I can't go riding anymore, since I find myself always anxious to get back out and ride again.  

Click here to see parts of the trail: Crothers Woods Trail 
Note: dear Reader don't think it's me, or ever will be me in the video :)

Overall, the trails are safe and are usually fenced off after if the conditions are too muddy).  Generally just respect the conditions, as well as your own limitations and other riders who are less agile (like me)...  

Heading out, while crossing the train tracks, I noticed a truck up ahead riding the 'rails' to do some weekend maintenance.  He thought it was pretty "hilarious" laughing his head off while I squealed as he let out a loud honk <wiseguy :P>

Tommy Thompson Park (additional photographs)

unfilled landfill :)
  I went back to the Tommy Thompson Park for a ride..mostly because I just can't get enough of this place.  I rode for about an hour from home and instead of following the path to the Vicky Keith Lighthouse (see Tommy Thompson Park on this blog) I explored a little and tried to find paths closer to the shoreline.  It was a windy night, but a warm wind and just hours after the 5.8 earthquake that Toronto and surrounding areas including Quebec experienced.  I must have been in a 'safe zone' because desks didn't shake, or rattle, or roll 
and I was pretty much oblivious to what had happened until I heard the buzz from people talking about it.  

Confused Geese...

Nothing spells the end of summer like the shorter days

 and the early confusion of geese swarming around dusk.  I remembered my grandfather used to tell me when I was a child that we could learn a lot from the animals, especially the birds (yes he was Native ;).  They were altruistic and would be able to give me all the warnings signs I would ever need for the weather ahead.  Judging by the way the they swarmed, almost manically back and forth and hovering at times, I figured there was going to be a bad wind shift happening in the near future. Canadian weather is always so unpredictable anyways. I rode to the end of a gravelly road and looked around for miles without seeing a soul in sight. I was a little concerned with my bike tires because of the rubble, so kept the weight off them.  The shoreline was littered with building remnants and construction waste.  It is a landfill site after all, and in time this too will be covered with grassland and wildflowers.  The ducks didn't seem to mind...    

trails of geese 

High Park and High Park Zoo (Summer)

Enter park - Modern art
It was a great day to go for a walk and leave my bike at home and decided to check out High Park out in the west end.  High Park is stunning in the summer.  Entering the park, it won't take long before you'll meet up with some friendly squirrels.  They're so cute and are especially friendly and trusting in these more public park settings..friendly High Park squirrels
Like any other public park, you are bound to run into some modern art, there was a very strange piece of metal artwork bolted in the ground ... 
Dog-walk path / free path
Capybaras/cattle/emu :)
High Park Gardens
Entering the northwestern part of the park you will get into a structured path outlined with steel/wooden fences for dog walkers basically designed so the dogs can run free.  This opens up into an older, yet boundless path that leaves you to explore in wooded areas if you want. Once you cross the park where you'll probably see people having lunch at picnic tables, you'll find the zoo. 
Out and about (not around in the spring) I saw a couple of capybaras.  Not sure what they are? I wasn't either. They originate from South America and are the largest rodents on earth!  To me they have the face of a beaver and a body of a small hippo but they're cute nonetheless.  The Highland cattle were out again like in the spring along with the Emu which kept following me everywhere I went along the fence.  Everyone thought it was funny but I think we bonded :)
Huge rhubarb in 1st pic!
Finally the famed High Park gardens that I'd never been to and lived here my whole life.  The pictures pretty much speak for themselves.  A couple of things not in my favour, a camera that is of low quality and an overcast sky, but you can get the idea of how beautiful the grounds are.  I can't believe how large rhubarb can grow..!
They have a landscape and gardening training centre on the premises and judging by the results, I would say its working.  Finally just before heading out for some food, one last stop to look at the famous Grenadier pond which looked like glass.  A few signs a long the pond warn of poison ivy so you're safe to to roam anywhere where signs are not posted because Parks and Rec are always scouting for unsafe plants.

Crothers' Woods (additional photographs)

Awesome open fields with wild flowers
Some time just before dusk last Thursday (August 18th) we had a weather storm watch, but I had an itching to go out for a ride and decided to take my 
A paved trail that I had to follow...
chances anyways.  I had read more about 'Crothers' Woods' and was amazed that this area of the valley was relatively 'untouched since 1787'! I mean I don't want to insult anyone's math abilities, but that's over 2 centuries ago and in the heart of Toronto.  That's rare here.  So that in and of itself was a reason for me to go back.  I saw a few guys on mountain bikes here and there tackling the steep walls and extensive gullies, pretty amazing athletes to do feats like that.  Then I walked my bike up a hill and followed a road that was freshly paved and curiously and comfortably rode along it until I came a dead end with a backhoe and roller.  I really hope I won't be seeing a thoroughfare coming through here off of Bayview avenue, but it is Toronto and the city has to do what they have to do I guess.  I can't complain though since there is so much park and forestry left here any ways.
just before dark and checked Leaside bridge more closely
So I turned around and went back the other way to the top of the valley passing by some dog walkers and spotted a large bird (couldn't make it out) and then the clouds rolled in and looked somewhat angry but nothing really panned out.  It was getting darker so started back  home on the trail and instead took a closer look at Leaside bridge, close to the Don River which was about 50 metres away from the bike trail.  I noticed an animal moving ahead (without my glasses I don't really notice much :) so I went in walking my bike to take a closer look.  Camera ready I saw a bunny that just stood there.  He (or she) must have stayed put for dummy to take a perfect picture.  I must have taken about 5 different shots of it trying to get the best 
Overlooking the valley below
one.  I laughed to myself thinking I'm probably taking a picture of a piece of wood.  But one of the setting on the camera let off a flash, and the bunny was gone in a flash! The picture you see here is the best of a bad lot.  I also never seen the Don River from the Leaside bridge before and the graffiti on the walls of bridge showed me I wasn't the first to discover its beauty.  Night coming soon, I left to go home and the skies waited for me to open the lobby doors before opening up and letting out a downpour for the next hour or so, cooling off the temps to a more comfortable degree. 

Don North Trail (Edwards Gardens)

Edwards Gardens / greenhouses
surrounding gardens
upper level of the gardens
The furthest northwest point of this particular part of the trail you will enter the beautiful botanical gardens (a former estate) called Edwards Gardens.    As you can see its easy to be a great photographer here!  This was site of another saw mills once owned by Rupert Edwards and in 1944 he made  this site his country home. Unbelievably, I had read that there was a time when this land was actually neglected!  But thankfully the city of Toronto had bought the land in the mid 50s, and Edwards Gardens was born.  Today the botanical gardens are in full bloom in the spring and summer months.  There is a fully functioning garden as well that is used to grow fresh fruits and vegetables which are donated to the homeless shelters.   My favorites will always be the weeping willow trees and there were quite a few here.  Awesome and beautiful shade trees they are ornaments to any garden in my opinion and there is no other tree quite so lovely. 

The weeping willow
functioning garden 
This pretty much covers the bike trails in and around Toronto.  There are plenty of foot trails that are easier to access without a bike too, but I won't be covering them on the blog.  There are plenty of great sites around already that cover hiking trails in Ontario :)

Don North Trail (Wilket Creek)

Following northwest on the trail you will come to a junction which acts as a meeting place, a rest station or terminus to Sunnybrook Park, Wilket Creek or Edwards Gardens.  Wilket Creek park is surrounded by mature oak and maple trees, sloping trails and ravines.  The creek is surrounded by ferns and cattails. A peaceful and beautiful portion of the trail.
Another popular parks for meet ups and family picnics.  The Terry Fox run usually starts at Wilket Creek.  The park itself is accessible from Leslie Street north of Eglinton Avenue.  This portion of parkland will eventually merge into the famous Edwards Gardens.  

Don North Trail (E.T. Seton Park)

Travelling further northwest on the trail and you will ride into E.T. Seton Park. A park which was obtained by the City of Toronto in honour of E.T. Seton in the 1960’s.  Originally it was to be the future site of the Metro Toronto Zoo, but now the established parkland abuts the Ontario Science Centre.  Spacious and abundant with parkland and trees, it is a good site for fundraisers, picnics, BBQ, and the new Lung Cancer Canada Grove.  Kind of a weird name but there is a portion of the park that contains a unique grove of trees.  The ‘healing circle’ is a path leading to the heart of the Grove which is a circle of 8 large limestones, with trees surrounding it. If you purchase a tree, the tree will be transplanted and a bench with a plaque will have your name on it.  The cost of the tree is $1,000. a piece.  

Oh, by the way, there's also plenty of parking if you choose to bring your vehicle to the park!

Don North Trail (Flemington Park)

Don North to Flemingdon Park
Flemingdon Park (the West Don)
There is a terminus, which I mentioned earlier in the blog ("Don River Trail") which indicates that you can either go to Taylor/Massey Creek park, follow the Don River downtown or cross the bridge to Charles Sauriol Conservation Reserve which ends up at Edwards Garden (north). This is a long trek, but a really nice ride going north.  The entire trip is a slight incline but barely noticeable.  

Entering the Conservation area, there is a bridge which overlooks the DVP to the east.  Up and over and down into Flemingdon Park travelling westbound. The land historically was owned by Robert Fleming and sold as public land after his death in 1925.  A multicultural area, post second war highrises developed in 1961 turning into public housing and low income section of Toronto.  The reputation has improved since the new millennium, and since 2000, the addition of new middle upper class homes and developments have increased property values.

History out of the way, just enjoy the pics for now! The goal is Edwards Gardens, so I decided to break up the journey into park parts :)

Crothers' Woods

An awesome find, a relatively untouched area of the Don Valley since 1793, but the area has had it's share of history.  If you're interested you can link up the history section on wikipedia at Crothers' Woods.  

The wooded area is a welcome cool down especially after a heated ride through the valley under the hot sun.  It's much like a trip up north once you enter into the mountain biking terrain.  Lots of maple and oaks around.  I am not an agile enough athlete to handle the bike  through the woods, but working on it.  Prefer the smoother trails by far, but sometimes you run into rough territory to get to the good stuff.  

Here's some pics of some of the surroundings.  I really need a better camera, especially for the film footage.  Summers winding down and perfect timing too as the trails have pretty much been all but covered soon.

Polson Pier!

Waterfront Patio
Docks of the bay
I know I must have mentioned a few times since I started this blog that I've been to places that I either 'didn't know about' or that 'I've never been to before'.  Well the Polson Pier is one of them!  It's a hotspot during the summer, because there is so much to do one one street.  It's not a long street 
Sunset at the Pier
Pier just north of Polson Avenue
on the water
either, so it's easy to miss if you aren't looking for it.  Located just off Cherry street on the west side going south towards Cherry Beach. First thing you'll notice, which is quite obvious are the giant old-fashioned Movie Screens... and yes, there is still an outdoor Drive-In that still exists here in the City!  There are 2 screens and they charge pretty much a flat rate no matter how many people are in the vehicle.  There's a soccer field, and mini putt, golf range, a rock-wall, Go-Kart track (see 'Go-kart') on 
Front entrance of Waterfront Patio
this blog and right at the end of the street 
(the furthest point west) is the Polson Pier.   The Pier is open to the public.  You can dock your water craft, listen to concerts at the "Sound Academy", radio shows "the Edge", "Dean Blundell", "Q-107", feed live from here, eat and drink at the Waterfront patio and just sit back and watch the boats sail by!  For more info check out the THE POLSON PIER