Rouge National Urban Park

A National Park in Toronto for Dog-Lovers

Rouge National Urban Park is unique for many reasons. First of all, it is a national park. Canada has only 48 national parks with only 6 in Ontario.



According to the Parks Canada website:
"National parks are a country-wide system of representative natural areas of Canadian significance. By law, they are protected for public understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment, while being maintained in an unimpaired state for future generations."

Secondly, this is the first national park in an urban area and the world's largest protected area in an urban center. Because the park is in Toronto, it is within a one-hour drive of 20 percent of the country's population.

Thirdly, because the park is accessible by public transport, many youth and newcomers will be able to discover and connect with nature. That means the park may be bustling at times with new hikers.

None of the trails are paved. Instead, everything is entirely natural and clearly marked.


There are portable toilets at entry points and even a campground for visitors. 


The land is protected, so if a trail is overused, it may be closed on short notice. 




Ticks

Part of the park has been invaded by ticks, so you need to protect yourself and dog against the possibility of getting Lyme disease. For yourself, wear clothes that cover your entire body, even in summer. For your dog, make sure you give them the flea and tick medication as recommended by your vet. For both of you, check for ticks when you get home. For details, see the Ticks page on the Parks website.


Map of 5 km Hike

There are many entries to this park. This post focuses on a 5 km hike that starts at the Glen Rouge Campground and turns around at Twyn River. 


This post covers the Mast Trail.  

Parking

The parking lot fills up with hikers on the weekends, so if the lot is full, drive to the Twyn Rivers parking lot.


Birdwatching

Listen or watch for birds throughout your hike. I've seen chickadees, woodpeckers, Canada geese, and heard Blue Jays. There is a birdfeeder near the campground entrance, which attracts many birds.


The river is mighty. It will seem calm when the weather is beautiful, but if you come to the park after a storm, you'll see many roots and branches lying on the shore. 

 

Since the trail is well marked and attracts many hikers, you'll need to keep your dog under control or on a leash to avoid disturbing other hikers. 


Bernedoodle dog looking at a river from a vista on Rouge River Hiking Trail Toronto

The views of the forest, river, and from the vistas are amazing.


After leaving the parking area, you'll cross a bridge and get a view of the river and perhaps some ducks that are playing in the currents.


Follow the signs pointing left that take you over a flat trail along the river. Leaving the river, you'll go up a hill that will lead you to a plateau where you can take one of three different routes. For your first visit, I suggest you take the staircase up the middle. 


Follow the path through the forest where you may see trees piled together to look like shelters. 


Once you go down the other side, you'll cross a valley of wildflowers with a steep hill to the left. In the summer, I've seen hockey players running up this hill to train. In the winter, kids slide down on toboggans. 



When you come to the river, you'll see the Twyn River parking lot on the other side. 



The river is very shallow at this point, so if your dog needs to play in the water, this is the right place. You can even cross the river without getting too wet if the water is low enough. 



The best way to get to the parking lot is to follow the trail to the left. 

At this point, you have several options to continue your hike. For a simple 5 km walk, turn around and go back the way you came. In future posts, I'll give details on other trails you can explore from this point.





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