Summer Walks in Taylor Creek Park
Flat trail with a river, marsh, and forest
The park connects many neighbourhoods and parks. During the Covid-19 Lockdown, the Taylor-Creek Trail parking lots were closed, essentially making it a park for locals only. I heard from frequent walkers that the trails got quite busy at times, but the park is so large that social distancing is still achievable.
Parking Lots Closed
Our last visit was May 27, 2020, and we were surprised to see that the parking lots were still closed. Many in the city are already open, but not here. The entry from Don Mills is also closed, but due to construction, not the pandemic.
We parked on a nearby street and walked into the Taylor Creek Park through the Donora Park.
Toronto Children's TheatreThis alternate route allowed us to discover the Children's Peace Theatre. According to their website, they are:
a place where people come in, connect and interact and learn, cross pollinate their knowledge to scatter in many places, while more young people join in and spark new conversations — in a continuous cycle of new possibilities.
They are closed during Covid-19, but I hope they can open soon and once again provide their services to the community.
The house was initially known as the Goulding Estate. It was built in 1921 on the Dentonia Farm as a wedding gift to the granddaughter of Hart Massey. The Massey family is known for farm equipment (Massey-Fergurson) and as patrons of the arts (Massey Hall). See Hiking the GTA's Massey-Goulding Estate post for historical details.
Follow the path to the West Dawes Road parking lot. Read the signs to see what wildlife you might expect to see.
Use the underpass to get to the other side of Dawes Road and enjoy the street art as you do.
You'll now be in the large parking lot on the east side of Dawes Road, where we would typically begin this hike. There are public washrooms in this area, but they are likely closed until the pandemic is over.
Natural Beauty at its Finest
Regardless of the season, the scenic river and surrounding trees make this park quite beautiful.
This wasn't always the case, though. Less than 20 years ago, this area was one of the most polluted in the city. In 2003, the environmental group known as Friends of the Don East (FODE) began the Taylor-Massey Project to clean up and restore the interconnected water systems of Toronto. The restoration continues. It's worth a visit to see how your tax dollars are being used to make Toronto as connected to nature as possible.
Along the path, you'll see signs for cyclists, so you'll quickly realize that this is a "bike highway," and you're likely to encounter cyclists traveling at high speeds. In parks like this, I highly recommend that you keep your dog on a leash.
If you walk on the side of the river where the paths are unpaved, you'll think you're on the "dog highway." This is an unofficial off-leash area, and you're likely to meet many dogs on even the shortest walk.
Mountain bikers and joggers like the unpaved routes as well, so be cautious regardless of where you are.
Walk west along the paved path until the first bridge. Cross the bridge and continue going west along an unpaved trail. Keep the river to your left. On this side of the trail, you may find opportunities to let your dog run off-leash. The creek seems clean and is easily accessible, so if your dog likes getting wet, that's likely going to happen.
For a 5 km loop, continue along the river until the path turns into a bridge. Cross the bridge and turn left on the paved trail in the direction you came.This area is a wetland filled with life that you may wish to explore.
We could hear the bullfrog's singing. This is a very loud croaking sound that I've seen described as a "bull-like bellow." The frogs are actually defending their territory during mating season. If you've never heard their sound before, it may scare you. It certainly made our dogs wonder what was going on!
Don't forget to look up. I nearly missed this huge black-crowned night heron setting in a tree overlooking the wetlands.
It's not hard to keep a distance from other people while walking this wide trail. Some dogs carry around big sticks to be sure they stay safe.
Keep an eye out for painted rocks that are being left in the forest these days.