Doris McCarthy Trail

Gates Gully and the Bellamy Ravine

Art, History, and Nature Appreciation

Hike down a steep hill to a rocky beach on Lake Ontario, and learn about a famous local artist and the interesting history of the area.

Sculpture PASSAGE by Marlene Hilton Moore honouring artist Doris McCarthy below the Scarborough Bluffs in Toronto Ontario Canada

Artist Doris McCarthy is a Toronto artist, well-known for her landscape paintings. On the beach below her home and art studio on the bluffs, is the steel sculpture called "Passage." This sculpture was created by Marlene Hilton Moore to honour Doris McCarthy's work and teaching. The sculpture was designed to represent the rib cage of both a fish and a canoe. 

Sign at the beginning of the Doris McCarthy Trail.

The walk to the sculpture begins at Ravine Drive and Bellehaven Crescent, south of Kingston Road near the bottom of Bellamy Road. A sign shows you where to start your hike.

Gravel pathway along a creek that takes you to Lake Ontario.

Walk on a gravel pathway for 1 km. The path is next to the Bellamy Ravine Creek and is steep in areas. If you're on your bike, you're advised to dismount along the steepest section. 

Sign warning that cyclists need to dismount.

The path is wide, and we didn't see a single person on the day we hiked the trail. If you are looking to walk a trail with few encounters with others, this is a great choice.

Suggested trail is 1 km each way with an option to go further along a rock beach.

As you walk down, ponder the history of this area known as Gates Gully that includes hidden treasure, smuggling, rebel hideaway, and even a shipwreck. Read the full history of the area in the Gates Gully Scarborough blog post by Hiking the GTA.

On either side of the trail, you'll see fragile bluffs.

View of cliffs from the shoreline.

There may have been trails up to the top of the bluffs at one point, but they are no longer safe to use. The bluffs have been eroding for years, and it is dangerous to climb them or stand on the edge.

Erosion of the bluffs.

At the bottom of the trail, you'll be rewarded with a great view of Lake Ontario with the Passage sculpture. 

Sculpture PASSAGE by Marlene Hilton Moore honouring artist Doris McCarthy below the Scarborough Bluffs in Toronto Ontario Canada

Turn right to walk west along the shore of Lake Ontario. You'll have a view of the bluffs and can walk nearly to Bluffers Beach. 

Dog enjoying the view of the lake.

We turned left and found beautiful rock sculptures on the beach. 

Rock sculpture on the beach.

If you turn around and head up the hill, your walk will be 2 km in total, but it will feel like much more because of the steep incline. To take a longer hike, go in either direction and walk as far as you want, knowing that you'll have to retrace your steps to get back to your car.

In another post, I'll provide information on how you can visit Doris' studio called Fool's Paradise on the top of the bluffs.


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