Humber Arboretum Trail

A must-see through the Humber Valley is the Humber Arboretum. It's a really beautiful trek in Toronto’s west end. It covers over 250 acres of botanical gardens and natural, wilder areas that surround the West Humber River.

The Arboretum is located just behind the Humber College North Campus at the intersection of Humberline Drive and Humber College Blvd., so there's lots of parking available.  If you'd rather take a bus or go on foot, it might be of interest to note that there is an express bus from Kipling station to the college.  Terrific way to get there and save on gas.

Once you arrive, you can choose either to take in the beautiful surroundings of the manicured lawns and flourishing flora at the Botanical Gardens in the Arboretum first, or take a walk through many of the marked nature trails through the Arboretum.  I liked the "Meadow Walk" which had 3 separate gates.  Others include the "Survival Path", "Boardwalk", "Beech Vista", "Woodland", "Pondview" and "Garden Circle".  All these nature trails are encompass the Arboretum and excellent tools for educational purposes as well.

The areas surrounding these paths are filled with meadow flowers and forested areas of over 1700 different species of plants and old and new native trees.   The trail paths following out of the Arboretum will take you northwest from this point towards Humberwoods Park in the direction of the Indian Line Campground where you will come across the Claireville Dam & Reservoir, constructed in the aftermath of Hurricane Hazel.

Further northwest still is the Claireville Conservation Area, which is an 848-acre natural and forested area located on the border of Toronto and Brampton. It is one of the largest tracts of land owned by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). Not all trails in here are accessible on bike, which is why it is sometimes a good idea to leave your bike at home.

Claireville is an unsupervised conservation area and supposedly has coyotes and deer (I've only seen a few bird species, though). Although Claireville is a passive conservation area, so it's popular with ‘birders’.  So, if your photographic interest is birds, then this is a good find.   I will be returning soon before summer's end to take a look at Claireville Conservation Area.  Unfortunately I have little patience unless I am alone to take any wildlife photos.  If I happen to see something, I will do my best to capture it.  Maybe you will have better luck!

For now, I am just content to take pictures of scenic landscapes. If you enjoy looking at the scenes, the photos will take care of themselves.

Happy Trails!

Mount Pleasant Park

After dinner, we decided to go for a walk through the Mount Pleasant Cemetery (been here before see blog), located in the heart of Toronto.
I was elated to find something at least a little different.  I saw an Eastern Grey Squirrel, which is less common than the typical black squirrel I have seen around.  This one looked as though it was praying.  Fitting for a cemetery, I suppose.  There were lots of vibrant colours around from lilacs to Maple trees, which was a nice change from the more common greens found in the late spring and summer time.
Some interesting finds tonight were the interesting "FREE MASONS" which had some masonry work toppled over?  A very small grave stone etched, "MOTHER FATHER" which I found very very sad.  In keeping with Father's Day coming up this weekend, I am hoping to be able to take my own father out to a trail which I think he'll enjoy that is close to him, and easy for him to walk through.
I also saw a tombstone marked, "King Stark" which can only be appreciated by die-hard Game of Thrones fans!!

Just for a point of interest, there are several guided tours than can be personalized to suit your schedule.  This goes on all year long.  In the guided tours you will hear about some of the nations leading citizens and families.  Some of whom went on to achieve wealth and fame in Canadian and Toronto history such as the Massey and the Eaton families.   Others are William Lyon Mackenzie King (Canada's longest serving Prime Minister, Mary Pickford (world's first movie star), while still others will be names are unknown to almost everyone today. 

Whether you are part of a guiding tour on going for a stroll on your own, there is over 83 hectares of land space dating back over 130 years ago, full of mature trees and shrubs inhabiting all kinds of species of birds and squirrels. All in all there are several picturesque and dramatic views as the geology contains several plateaus, ravines and valleys that you will enjoy. 

East Don Parklands Trail

 One of the most beautiful and "northern-feeling" areas I have ever seen in Toronto is in the East Don Parklands. This trail consists of a few hills but is also an easy one and a moderate trek taking you well over an hour to finish on foot.

There are several small footpaths along the way (like all trails) running off the main trail where you will be transported into landscapes reminiscent of Algonquin near some wetlands and bogs, and at other times in the midst of majestic and secluded forests and a rushing river.

I found more wildlife in this little bit of trail than I had in dozens of larger ones in the city.  It is very well preserved and enjoyed. We heard a Chinese man playing his flute to the trees in a cultural offering.  We saw turtles happily swimming upwards towards the creek bed, and frogs sitting unbeknownst to onlookers beside some tasty grubby treats.  We smelled acres and acres of lilacs which scented most of the way.

Other than the Humber Trail out west in city, I think you will find this to be on your favorite list as well.

The East Don Parklands is part of a watershed which I mentioned before in my blog.  A watershed is an area of land that drains into a river system and in Toronto that ultimately ends up in Lake Ontario.  So no matter where you live you are in a watershed.

The trail actually starts from German Mills Creek (a tributary of the East Don) just north of Steeles, but I ran out of time so will have to extend just a little bit to cover the area north of Steeles next trip in the area.

The East Don watershed travels south and wiggles southwest and southeast from Steeles to York Mills Road passing through East Don Parkland, Alamosa, Villaways and finally through the Betty Sutherland Trail park (see this blog).

The Don River is one of many rivers and streams that flow south from Oak Ridges Moraine into the Lake.  Its three main tributaries are Taylor Massey Creek, West Don and the East Don.

The Don River and its contribution to the watershed covers over 360 square kilometres, and this area is home to over 800,000 people and 80% urbanized.  That puts this watershed under a lot of pressure.

There is a continual effort by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and many local volunteers to help out by planting trees and shrubs every year. This aids in the collection of pollutants, keeping them from the water, it is also known as a tree canopy.  Currently the tree canopy covers over 7%; this number is set to rise in the future as more and more people are becoming aware of the overall importance of the watersheds and the natural environment to nature, wildlife and ultimately to our own health.

I found this article from last year in the Toronto Star about the importance of tree canopies in cities, and thought it was worth sharing.

Happy Trails! 

Betty Sutherland Trail

The Betty Sutherland Trail is not a very long trail, but it's interesting enough.  It starts from the south at Duncan Mill Road and travels northwest to Sheppard (and Leslie) in Toronto.

You will see a few trails in Toronto named after women influential in politics and community.  Another that comes to mind is the Kay Gardner Belt-line Trail.

Betty Sutherland was an elected representative who served 13 years in North York on the Council (before the amalgamation of the City of Toronto) until she went into retirement from her career in politics in 1985.

Betty loved nature, and had given almost ten years on the council of the Toronto and Regional Conservation Authority.  She had contributed much to the development of parklands, including the maintenance in the keeping with the natural environment of the City's parks and trails.  This included planting native trees, shrubs and wildflowers as well as staying true to the existing landscape to improve on the existing wildlife habitat to endure the species of plants and animals that lived there.

Her contribution led to the naming of this trail as the Betty Sutherland Trial in 1988.

The trail is a fast and easy one (good for a lunch break if you work or live in the area).  Much of the landscape remains untouched other than some overhead bridge repairs.  Near the start of the trail, there are also some ruins of old pump houses that remain giving the landscape a bit of an interesting historical feature to it.  Other than the graffiti on the walls, the house still remains pretty much intact.

Off the trail at the end of one of the footpaths, near the river there's a cute little nook of chairs equipped with firepit overlooking a beautiful location for relaxing.

It always amazes me that in the heart of such a busy city there are so many of these little 'nooks' to be enjoyed.

Happy Trails!