Charles Sauriol and Moccasin Trail

Hiking to the Rainbow Tunnel

Have you ever noticed the rainbow tunnel while driving northbound on the DVP approaching the Lawrence Ave East exit? This post introduces you to a trail where you can take your dog for a walk, and get a photo with the rainbow at the same time.


Black bernedoodle in front of rainbow tunnel viewable from the DVP in Toronto near Lawrence East

You can get to this tunnel from two different parks: Charles Sauriol Conservation Area and Moccasin Trail Park. To follow my directions, park at the Charles Sauriol entrance at Lawrence and the DVP (1191 Lawrence Ave E, North York, ON M3A 3P9).

Map of Trail from Charles Sauriol Conservation Area to Moccasin Trail Park via Rainbow Tunnel


Map of Charles Sauriol Conservation Area to Moccasin Trail park in Toronto near DVP and Lawrence


History

The first thing you'll notice is an old white house. This gothic house is known as the Milne House and was built in 1871. You can read more about the history of this area in the Hiking the GTA Blog.

Gothic house built in 1871 in Milne Hollow, now Charles Sauriol Conservation Area

Wildflowers

Avoid the paved trails for now and follow the interpretive trail into the wildflower meadow. This is a conservation area, so you'll be able to learn about the importance of the native plants that grow in this valley.

Learn about the wildflowers, native trees and shrubs in the Charles Sauriol Conservation Area with interpretive signs on a hiking trail

Birds

The native trees and shrubs attract a variety of migrating and local birds. You'll see a marker for The Toronto Bird Flyway project that designates this valley as one of three Toronto flyway corridors. The valley provides food and shelter for hundreds of birds that pass through or breed in the Don Watershed each year.


Stone marker for the Toronto Flyway Project that plants native trees and shrubs to attract breeding or migrating birds in the Don Watershed area

Trail Details

Follow the paved path and be sure to have your dog on a leash. Cyclists often speed along the trail and you don't want to be in their way.

Paved path next to the Don River in the Fall with autumn colours in the park leading to the rainbow tunnel

You'll be able to see the heavy traffic on the DVP and will be happy that you're not stuck in a car.

Wave at the traffic on the DVP while you walk along the Don River on your way to the Rainbow Tunnel near Lawrence Ave in Toronto

There are several paths to the river that you may wish to explore with your dog. 

Bernedoodle exploring the Don River next to the Rainbow Tunnel by the DVP and Lawrence Ave in Charles Sauriol Conservation Area in Toronto

Spawning Salmon

Turn right at the first bridge to get to the rainbow tunnel. Stop in the middle of the bridge and look down at the river. If you're walking the trail in mid-October, you may see the spawning salmon.

Artwork 

The story of the painted rainbow tunnel is worth telling. Berg Johnson, the original artist, painted the rainbow on the tunnel to mark the anniversary of the death of a friend who died in a car crash nearby. The city removed his painting and threatened to charge him. After several iterations, the city eventually accepted the rainbow painting and turned the maintenance of the artwork to Mural Routes.  

Rainbow Artwork painted on a tunnel next to the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto

Notice that there is a painting inside the tunnel as well. The paintings have a coating that protect them from tagging.

Picnic in Moccasin Park

After the tunnel, you'll walk through meadows and arrive in Moccasin Park. This is a perfect place to have a picnic and play with your dog or kids.
 
Bring your lunch and enjoy nature in Moccasin Park in Don Mills

Walk around the pond to complete the trail. Keep an eye out for birds and small mammals.

Walk the trail around the pond to see birds and wildflowers in Don Mills


At this point, turn around and go back the way you came. After the bridge, the trail continues to the south, and the city is expanding the trails significantly. I'll publish another post to cover the details about that section of the trail once it is completed.


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