Distance hiked: 5km
Location: Rouge National Urban Park, Ontario
Date: October 24 2020
Located in Scarborough, Rouge National Urban Park is the largest urban park in North America. The park features a number of trails through wetlands, forests, meadows, and along the coast of Lake Ontario. At the start of the pandemic Rouge National Urban Park became our go-to place to hike due to its close proximity to where we live. We haven’t been in a few months, so with pleasant weather on the forecast, we decided to return to enjoy the fall colours.
We initially planned to hike along the Monarch Trail, but the road leading to the trailhead was closed. Instead we parked at the main parking area near the Parks Canada’s visitor centre and hiked along the Vista Trail (1.6km one-way, rated moderate). With not much else to (safely) do these days besides hiking, it seems like everyone else had a similar plan as the parking lot was pretty packed.
The trailhead is located a few hundred metres from the parking area and is well signed. The trail features a two-level viewing platform and is reputed to provide one of the best places to view Toronto’s fall colours.
The viewing platform is located near the start of the trail. And I’m pretty sure that most of the other people visiting the park were all at this platform. Rules about physical and social distancing seemed to be forgotten. Someone even asked us to take a picture of them (with their grandparents!) with their phone.
From the viewing platform you can see Beare Hill to the north. It was once a landfill, but was decommissioned in 1983. Today the hill is one of the highest points of land in the City of Toronto.
We didn’t stay long at the viewing platform given the crowds. So we continued our hike along the trail, all the while trying to dodge people that we came across. The path is quite wide, but didn’t seem wide enough. Now I remember why we stopped hiking here during the pandemic.
Another interesting feature of the trail is its hydro corridor and abundance of power lines.
The trail then winds through the forest along a ridge and ends at the road on Twyn Rivers Drive.
There are a few options to extend your hike from this point. We crossed the road and hiked part of the Mast Trail (2.2km one-way, rated moderate to difficult) as the north trailhead is located here. The trail follows along a former logging route where pine trees were cut and floated down the river. We hiked about half the trail, and turned back once we reached the top of the ridge.
On the return trip along the Vista Trail, we made another modification to hike along part of the Orchard Trail (2km one-way, rated moderate) for a change of scenery and it seemed less busy than the Vista Trail. The trail winds through human-made wetlands and loops back to the main parking area.
We wrapped up our hike around lunch time. While it would have been nice to spend more time here, we were a bit concerned by the alarming number of people on the trails. We headed home and decided to just go for another hike on Sunday. This time somewhere outside of the city.
My progress on the 52 Hike Challenge can be found here