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!