Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: May 2021
The Scarborough Bluffs is a sandy escarpment located along the shore of Lake Ontario near Toronto. At its highest point, the rugged cliffs rise 90 metres above the shoreline and span a length of 15km. There are nine parks situated along the Bluffs, protecting this unique landscape for all to enjoy.
We were among the crazies that purchased a house during the middle of the pandemic. With only a month and a half left of living in Toronto, we’ve been trying to (safely) see more of the city before we move out to the suburbs. We planned to spend the weekend at our cabin and decided to stop at the Bluffs on the drive up since it was somewhat along the way.
Since the weather was supposed to be nice, we decided to leave bright and early to avoid the crowds. We parked at Bluffers Park. There were a few other cars in the parking lot, but we mostly had the place all to ourselves. There is a single trail here, the Scarborough Bluffs Trail, which loops through the park and connects Bluffer’s Beach and Bluffer’s Park. We first walked down to the water.
There is a paved path that runs parallel to the shoreline, but much of this area was fenced off for construction when we visited. Instead, we found the other half of the trail at the back of the parking lot which leads straight to the base of the cliffs.
The path then leads to a scenic lookout of the Bluffs and Lake Ontario. There is a plaque here that provides more information about the Scarborough Bluffs and how they were created. The cliffs consist of layers of sand and clay that were created during the last Ice Age. The first 46m of sediment contain fossil plants and animals that were deposited in a large river delta during the first advance of the Wisconsin glacier about 70,000 years ago. They are covered by 61m of boulder clay and sand in alternating layers left by four subsequent advances and retreats of the ice. The final withdrawal of the glacier occurred roughly 12,000 years ago.
On the return journey, we hiked along the other side of the Dunkers Flow Balancing System. The system was invented by Karl Dunkers from Sweden and consists of a series of connected cells created by suspending plastic curtains from pontoons. It is used for stormwater treatment and helps to reduce the harmful effects of polluted runoff flowing from the City’s storm sewers before it enters Lake Ontario.
Once we looped back to the parking lot, we walked down to Bluffer’s Park Beach. This sandy beach features a diverse and sensitive ecosystem and provides a great opportunity for swimming during the summer … and apparently during the spring too as we saw a couple take a quick dip in the water.
We then hopped back in the car and drove to the nearby Scarboro Crescent Park, which is located at the top of the Bluffs. We parked along Undercliff Drive by the Scarborough Bluffs Tennis Club. From here there’s a path that leads through a forest and out onto a large meadow on top of the Bluffs. There are a few viewpoints that provide sweeping views of the eroding sandstone cliffs and lower section of the park.
The reality of the pandemic caught up to us as we were driving out of the park. K received a call from his dad who tested positive for COVID-19. Since he briefly visited his dad the weekend before, we decided to postpone our trip to the cabin and return to Toronto so K could get tested. For the remainder of the weekend we self-isolated inside. Thankfully his test results came back negative. K’s dad received his first dose of the vaccine a couple months earlier and luckily exhibited no symptoms. Either way, it was a stark reminder of how COVID-19 can hit close to home.