I was joining a group of 18 walkers from the Outdoor Club of East York for a spring hike in the Rouge Valley, billed as Canada’s premier urban wilderness park. What I like about this park is the quick drive getting to the trailhead as it lies within the borders of Toronto, yet once there it seems a world away from the city. In April the weather can vary, today we were lucky with a warm sunny day.
For our 21 km hike our group started at the Glen Rouge Campground (just off Kingston Road) following the riverside trail. Over the first 5 km some deer were spotted and a stop was made at the visiting platform before arriving at Pearce House, which hosts the office of the Rouge Valley Conservation who currently administer the park prior to it becoming a National Park. You can park here on Zoo Road, just east of Meadowvale Road.
Also at Pearce House were the remainder of our group who were only walking for 11 km of the route.We started by heading along the west side of the Rouge River, a very fast moving body of water at this time of year. The trail on the west bank goes through a dense woods before that is fairly flat. However at times the trail headed away from the river for a steep ascent up the parallel hill.
Our first stop was at an elegant, but abandoned house with a sun room featuring nice tiles. If we were in England this would be a tea room for hikers, but that is not common in Canada.
We continued along the unmarked trails, hearing the horns of trains in the distance and crossing the occasional road but saw no other hikers. At one point one of our group took use further into the dense bush to show us where he had winter camped in December. The lean-to still remained in place, I think he should apply to “Survivor” show with the skills he has.
We came to a stream with only a series of rocks for the crossing, and as we discovered some were a bit tippy. I had a hiking pole and others used sticks to assist. In the end only one member of our group went for a surprise dip in the creek.
Although the trail was unmarked it basically follows the river until reaching the signed Woodland Trail which took us to Steeles Avenue. On other hikes there have been sightings of numerous deer here. There is a parking lot and washroom here.
We started back along the Woodland Trail before heading uphill again through dense forest where we met a pair of park volunteers on patrol. When we met them they were advising some dog owners that leases are required for their roaming pets.
We now crossed the river to the east side joining the Cedar Trail, a clearly marked trail enjoyed by plenty of families out for a Sunday stroll. At the hillsides wooden stairs assisted the ascent and descent. Good views of the river from up high. There were signs about coyotes in the area but we didn’t see any, I think there were too many dogs out this Sunday.
Check out some of the other Toronto area hikes here.
Somehow this route seemed longer than the stated distance and with the ascents was a good workout but consider the Rouge Park next time you want a pleasant spring hike near the city.