Waterfront Trail

From East Point Park to Rouge Beach

Walking the shores of Lake Ontario

View of Lake Ontario from the hill near the parking lot for the East Point Park Waterfront Trail head.

For those living in Toronto, exploring the shores of Lake Ontario is one of the most satisfying things we can do. The trails are endless, and more are being created. It has been a trend for the last few years to improve the waterfront making it more friendly for the people of the city.

Great Lakes Waterfront Trail

This trail is part of the massive project to connect 140 communities over a distance of 3000 km known as the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail. As dog walkers, we'll only join small stretches of the trail at a time.

Map of the waterfront trail.


There is a large parking lot near the Highland Creek Treatment Plant, near the intersection of Copperfield Road and Beechgrove Drive.

Highland Creek Treatment plant.

10 km hike

The hike we did was 5 km directly from the parking lot at the Highland Creek Water Plant to the beach part of the Rouge National Urban Park. We then came back the exact same route, making it a 10 km walk. This is a bit longer than I recommend for most dogs. My Lucy was exhausted by the end despite a few dips into the lake.

Recommended route

To make this a more reasonable 5 km hike with some variety, I suggest you turn back at the Port Union access point and then visit the East Point Park to see the lake from the top of the bluffs. Then you can visit the East Point Bird Sanctuary on your way back to your car.

Paved trail

From the parking lot, look for signs directing you to the Waterfront trail and walk east along the paved trail.

As with most paved trails in Toronto, when the weather is beautiful, they get crowded with families and cyclists. Only choose to let your dog run free on the beach if it's empty. Do not let them off-leash on paved trails if others are using the trails.

Highland Creek Bridge

The first access point you'll encounter after the parking lot is the Highland Creek Bridge.

Highland Creek Bridge

The trail is parallel to the GO train line, so you'll see tracks, bridges, and if you go far enough, stations.

Rail bridge for GO trains.

My dog enjoyed playing with the birds on the sandbar.

Dog chasing birds on shore of Lake Ontario.

Much of the coastline in this area is made up of stone rather than sand.

Rocks on the shore of Lake Ontario.

We also found a bit of forest to run in.

Wooded area on the shore of Lake Ontario.

According to Google Maps, you'll be about 2 km into the walk when you reach the Port Union Access point. This is an excellent spot to rest or have a picnic. There is a children's playground and a washroom nearby as well.

Turn back at this point. 


When you get back to the water treatment plant, use the unpaved trails to walk along the cliffs.

The bluffs are structurally unsafe, so be sure to stay on the right side of the fence.

Cliffs or bluffs overlooking Lake Ontario. Fence protects people and pets from dangerous falls and further erosion of the bluffs.

If you continue along the trails going west, you'll be able to walk almost to Grey Abbey Park, but the waterfront access ends when you get to the Dow Canada plant. Barriers are keeping you off the property, and it is not possible to walk to Grey Abbey via the beach or bluffs.

I suggest taking the first trail that goes to the right, which will take you to the bird sanctuary.

East Point Bird Sanctuary

Here you'll see a pond, feeders, and structures to help support the marsh birds in the area. We only saw seagulls and Cooper's Hawks on our walk, which was in February. I plan to be back in the spring to hopefully see a wider variety of birds.

Sign for East Point Park Bird Sanctuary

The pond in the East Point Park for the bird sanctuary.

Structures to use to watch or photograph water birds in the East Point bird sanctuary.

From here, return to your car. I hope you enjoyed your hike as much as we did!


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