Scarborough Bluffs

Length of stay1 day
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.


78 thoughts on “Scarborough Bluffs

  1. Lookoom says:

    I have been to this park several times. In the summer the parking spaces are taken up very early, with families coming to spend the day by the lake. There is also a row of floating homes, a bit of an unusual sight. Close call, be careful and stay safe.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I can’t believe that I’ve lived in Toronto for over a decade and that this was the first time I’ve ever visited the Bluffs. I have a tendency to take where I live for granted. I can imagine just how busy this area can get during the summer. It always pays off to show up early. Even as we were wrapping up, the parking lot was becoming much busier. It’s too bad we missed the floating homes as that would have been interesting to see.

  2. kagould17 says:

    We visited the upper portion of the Bluffs in November 2006, but as it was a cold snowy day, did not get any further. A fascinating area. Congrats on the house purchase and best wishes on your move. Sorry to hear about K’s Dad, but glad K is OK. Our next door neighbours had Covid go through their house, one taken to ICU for over a week, another checked out for breathing issues and the third just coughs. It can and does hit where you leats expect it. Still necessary to be cautious. Hope to get jab #2 in June. Thanks for sharing. Stay well. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s a beautiful area and hard to believe that this place exists so close to Toronto. We’re counting down the days until we move (only 15 more days). We’re thankful that K’s dad is doing okay and didn’t experience any symptoms. Sorry to hear about your neighbours. The longer this pandemic continues the more people we know who have gotten it. Canada seems to be making good progress with its vaccinations, so let’s hope it continues into the summer. Take care.

  3. Little Miss Traveller says:

    Enjoyed your tour around the lakeside but even with the clear blue skies I expect it was very chilly for those intrepid swimmers. Scarborough Bluffs looks very attractive but I was saddened to read that K’s dad had tested positive for COVID, hopefully he’s well on his way to recovery right now. Marion

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I am definitely not brave enough to take the polar plunge, especially when it’s still cold outside. But hey, to each their own. I can easily see why this area is popular during the summer. The beach is nice and sandy and those cliffs in the background are stunning. I’m happy to say that K’s dad has made a full recovery and ended up experiencing no symptoms or negative side effects from COVID.

  4. Ab says:

    I’m very sorry about K’s dad. I’m glad that K tested negative and that his dad is showing no symptoms. Hope it continues to be ok.

    I’m so glad you made it out to the Bluffs and got to see it both from the base level and from the top. One of the best spots in Toronto for sure!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks. We’re extremely relieved that K’s dad exhibited no COVID symptoms. He’s completed his 2-week quarantine and is happy to finally leave the house. Many thanks for the recommendation to visit the Bluffs. I’ve always heard that it was a nice area, but didn’t realize just how gorgeous it is. It is definitely one of the top attractions in Toronto. I’m also glad we arrived early as I can only imagine just how rammed it can get on a nice day.

  5. travelling_han says:

    The Bluffs look amazing, the beaches are lovely. I really like the photo with the duck bobbing on the water. So glad your test result was negative and that K’s dad is alright. We had our first jabs here in England and we are 33 so hopefully things start to get better as the vaccine programmes expand to more people.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The Bluffs are easily one of the top attractions near Toronto. It was nice to finally visit them before we move out of the city in a couple of weeks. We are so thankful that K’s dad is doing okay. He’s completed his 2-week quarantine and luckily had no negative side effects. Congrats on getting your first shot. Canada has stepped up its vaccine roll-out and more than half of Canadians have received their first jab. Hopefully this means that we’ll have a somewhat normal summer.


    Sorry to hear about K’s dad. Hope it all goes well and he continues showing no symptoms! It’s crazy to think that our lives have changed so much over the last months even though many of us had no exposure. It really brings it into perspective when it hits home. The bluffs are such a unique place. There’s a book you might enjoy called Along the Shore by Jane Fairburn that I think you might like! Here is a link to it:

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks. K’s dad has finished his 2-week quarantine at home and thankfully exhibited no symptoms. Most people we know haven’t had COVID-19, but I guess all it takes is for someone close to you to test positive to bring things into perspective. We’re glad he’s received his first dose already, which gave us some peace of mind. Thanks for the book recommendation. I read the description and it sounds like something that I would like. I do enjoy learning more about Ontario these days, both in terms of the landscape and the people. Have a wonderful weekend.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks. We’re counting down the days until we move (we have 14 more days). But yes, it’s good to see more of the city and surrounding area before we leave. We try to head out first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds. That’s one thing I won’t miss!! Take care.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The Bluffs are beautiful. It’s hard to believe that they exist so close to the city. I’m glad we visited before the summer as I’m sure this place will be packed with visitors. I’m happy to say that K’s dad has completed his quarantine and continued to show no symptoms. We’re looking forward to moving (only 2 more weeks), which will be an entirely different adventure! Have a wonderful weekend.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Totally. It’s hard to believe that these sandy cliffs are situated on Lake Ontario and so close to the city. I also can’t believe that despite living in Toronto for over a decade that this was my first time seeing them.

  7. Lynette d'Arty-Cross says:

    Sorry to hear about K’s dad, but at least he’s okay. Quite a scare and certainly a strong reminder that covid is very much with us. One advantage of being in the north is that I’ve been fully vaccinated since early March, and with the research showing a lot of efficacy against the variants, I feel very, very fortunate. I can’t wait until everyone who wants one is fully vaccinated and we are able to not be so worried all the time.

    Congratulations on your purchase. Moving though, is not one of my favourite things.

    Great photos – I went to Scarborough Bluffs a long time ago – probably about 15 years now. It was a hot day and the swimming was pretty nice!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks. We’re so glad that he received his first jab a couple of months ago and thankfully exhibited no symptoms. He’s completed his 2-weeks of isolation and is happy to finally leave the house again. Being fully vaccinated must give you so much peace of mind. It won’t be awhile until we’re fully vaccinated (not until the fall).

      And yes, we’re very much looking forward to moving out of the city. I can’t wait to have an actual backyard. The move itself should be interesting. You don’t realize how much stuff you have until you have to take it all out to move.

  8. winteroseca says:

    So, did your trip take you back to Scarborough Fair? Lol. More incredible views! Makes me think of the White Cliffs of Dover! I’m so sorry one of your relatives got COVID-19. Take care of yourselves and stay safe! <3

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Ha, I just listened to this song because you brought it up. I’d love to see the White Cliffs of Dover someday, they look gorgeous! I can’t believe the Bluffs are so close to Toronto and that this was the first time I’ve visited. I’m glad we went first thing in the morning as I’m sure this place gets rammed on weekends, especially when the weather is nice. I’m happy to report back that K’s dad has completed his quarantine and exhibited no symptoms!! Have a wonderful weekend. Take care.

      • winteroseca says:

        Dover is amazing! You should definitely go! I’m so glad that things are all well COVID wise too! 😊

      • winteroseca says:

        I hope so too. I do wonder if Alberta is reopening too fast because they want the Stampede to happen though 😬

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Ugh, probably. It’s a huge tourist attraction for them. Rumour has it that Ontario is supposed to enter into our first stage of reopening on June 14. This means that campgrounds will open up again!!

      • winteroseca says:

        Yeah, that’s one reason why I hope to get out of the city then. Yay for the campgrounds reopening! I can’t wait to see where you go once that happens!

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        I have a one-week road trip planned for the Canada Day week towards the beginning of July. I’m so looking forward to taking time off of work and just being surrounded by nature.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The Bluffs look even more remarkable towering above the blue waters of Lake Ontario. It’s certainly a lovely spot and I can see why it’s so popular. I’m happy to say that K’s dad has completed his 2-weeks of isolation and had no negative side effects.

  9. usfman says:

    Sorry to read of your COVID scare. Some if we drove along this shoreline in October, how would this environment look differently?

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks. I’m happy to say that K’s dad has fully recovered and experienced no symptoms. I imagine the Bluffs would look stunning in the fall when the leaves are changing colour. Sounds like a good enough reason to return!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Definitely. With nine parks along the shoreline, there are plenty of good viewpoints and walking opportunities. The bluffs looked particularly spectacular against the blue skies and waters. Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful weekend.

  10. alisendopf says:

    Congratulations on buying a new house! Way to go. You must be so excited for this new adventure. Glad to see you are packing in so much before you go.

    I hope K’s dad is okay. Getting covid, even if you don’t have symptoms, is scary.

    As to you adventure – those bluffs are amazing. I love how white they are. Truly stunning. Thanks for the great info on how they were created (Clay! Ugh. We know all about clay in Alberta!) and the timeline. Hard to believe the last ice age was that ‘recent’.

    The water is so blue. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Thanks for sharing!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks! The housing market is absolutely crazy. I’m glad it all worked out and that we’re done with the search. We move in just under two weeks!! We’ve been trying to see as much of the city and surrounding area as we can before we move, which is why we took a break from our usual provincial park adventures and visited the Bluffs. It’s always neat to learn more about how our landscape was shaped and formed by the glaciers. I’m happy to say that K’s dad has made a full recovery and completed his two weeks of quarantine without any symptoms.

      • alisendopf says:

        Oh, that is great news about K’s dad. So glad he came through without any adverse health effects. Whew!!!

        Moving in two weeks. That is so exciting. I imagine living in TO is fun, but this will be a grand new adventure. I am sure the move will go great. Have fun and enjoy the process.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Thanks!! Now it’s only one week until we move!! I never thought I’d move out of the city while I still worked, but this pandemic has really changed my perspective on a lot of things, including where I want to live. We spend most weekends leaving the city to go hike so figured why not move closer to nature. I’m looking forward to the change and am excited to have an actual backyard to grow a garden. Enjoy your weekend.

      • alisendopf says:

        I think a lot of people have changed their minds about living and working. Places like Canmore are seeing a housing boom, and it was already pretty busy. Enjoy!

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        For sure. The housing market everywhere is crazy as many people have been leaving the city to settle down in smaller towns or by the water. We’re not entirely sure what the commute will be like once we have to return to the office, but it’s doubtful either of us will ever have to go in five days a week.

      • alisendopf says:

        Isn’t that amazing how this has changed the typical 5 day work week? So much more freedom. I’m self-employed, so have been able to set my own hours for decades. Trying to have a ‘real’ job with set hours would be pretty difficult. Enjoy!!!

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Totally. Now that I don’t have to commute or spend time getting ready in the morning I’ve discovered that I have so much more free time in the day. It’ll be hard to give that up. Being self-employed sounds like it comes with some extra freedoms and flexibilities. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side?

      • alisendopf says:

        … and more responsibilities too. It’s easier now that it’s just me. Prior, we had a workshop and retail. Being responsible for all those employees was a lot of pressure.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I can’t believe I’ve lived in Toronto for over a decade and that this was my first time visiting the Bluffs. It’s such a beautiful area. I’m glad we woke up extra early to arrive before the crowds. I’d love to return in the fall to see what it’s like when all the leaves are changing colour. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. The white cliffs jutting out along the shore of Lake Ontario are simply stunning. I’m glad we visited on such a beautiful day as the blue skies made them appear even more dramatic. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  11. rkrontheroad says:

    I walked along this area a few years ago when I was visiting my brother in Toronto. There are so many pretty spots that most people never find! The photos are great, what a perfect day.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      There are nine parks scattered along the Bluffs so I’m sure there are lots of great viewpoints of the white cliffs and blue waters of Lake Ontario. We managed to visit three of the parks when we came here and I wished we could have stayed longer. Unfortunately it was starting to get busy so that’s when we decided to call it quits and return home. Glad you managed to check this place out when visiting your brother. It is definitely one of the top attractions near Toronto.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The towering white cliffs look stunning along Lake Ontario, especially when the sun is shining. Despite living in Toronto for over a decade, this was our first time visiting the Bluffs. I have a tendency to take where I live for granted, but now that we’re moving soon, we figure we might as well see the sights before we leave the city.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The Bluffs look incredible, especially against the turquoise blue waters of Lake Ontario. I’m glad we visited on a nice day where the sun made the water shimmer and shine. We got quite the scare to hear that K’s dad tested positive for COVID. Thankfully he’s been vaccinated and exhibited no symptoms. He’s completed his 2-weeks of quarantine and is back to his regular routine.

Leave a Reply