In celebration of the 150th year of Confederation, we are trying to visit every Canadian National Park that we can.
Of all the parks across Canada, Rouge National Urban Park was always the hardest one to plan to visit. Not because it’s far away, but because it’s so close. I mean, it’s on the eastern border of Toronto and I work in Toronto. Which means I don’t want to go to Toronto unless I have to. Well as luck would have it, I agreed to make a birthday cake for a woman at work for her daughter’s birthday. It was a perfect excuse to head to the city and I may as well make the trip worthwhile and bring the dogs with me.
It was already hot when I dropped the cake off even though I couldn’t feel it since I had the air conditioner on full blast to keep the frosting from melting. In fact, I think I lost all feeling in my toes during that drive. Once the package was safely delivered, we headed to the park.
Now you would think by now that I would have figured out where I was going before I left home. However, you would also think that a major urban park would have signs indicating where one would park and where gates are and such. I later learned that what makes getting to the main gate confusing is that it is in the same area as the Toronto Zoo. Now the park may be nice, but there is no way I am going to be paying to park, especially on such a hot day when we are not likely to spend hours wandering around.
Eventually I found a sign for Rouge Park and turned in to the Woodlands Trail. Almost immediately, the sounds of the city died away and I could almost forget that we on the border of the largest city in Canada. The sign in the parking lot warning about coyotes and ticks may scare off some people; but not us.
There are well-marked and level trails but we soon ducked off those and into the trees. The smaller and more shaded trail was more to our liking. Soon we found ourselves walking next to a stream and I couldn’t resist letting the dogs jump into the water; to drink and cool off of course. Even in the shade, it felt like an oven. We stayed in the water as long as we could. We even found a little den under some branches that hung over a rocky bar. Jack and Leo channelled their inner tightrope walkers on some fallen logs. Piper would not participate in such silliness.
Finally it was time to go home. Ummmmmm hey guys do you remember where we parked the car? I know it’s somewhere thatta way…Crud. I had been so relaxed that I had been aimlessly wandering downstream.
Needless to say, we ended up taking a somewhat scenic route rather than do the simple thing and backtrack. I will say that it was a thoroughly enjoyable trip to the Rouge and even though it was a great day for a hike, we hardly saw anyone there.
I’m happy to say that Rouge National Urban Park is currently under development. It is slated to expand from roughly 40 sq km (15.4 sq mi) to almost 80 sq km (30.5 sq mi). That’s huge! Not only that, the park can be accessed by public transit and there’s a campground in the south end. I am amazed that I had never heard of this even when I lived in the city.
3620 Kingston Road, Toronto, (office address)
105 Guildwood Plaza, P.O. Box 11024 (mailing address)
Telephone: (416) 264-2020
HOW TO GET THERE
The main gate is accessed at Zoo Road but there are other parking area, Toronto Transit Commission (bus), heck you can even get there by bike.
THINGS TO DO
Hiking and biking are a given but the Rouge River also provide ample space for canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. Once the snow falls, those trails will be perfect for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
WHAT TO EAT
The sky truly is the limits as you can hop out of the park anywhere and get everything.