Bluffer Park and Marina
There's no place better to be on a super hot day than near the water. Toronto has many bodies of water that can help you and your dog beat the heat this summer. One of the most popular places is Bluffers Beach in Scarborough on Lake Ontario.
Next to the beach is a marina and park. It is possible to hike the entire area in one day, but why not visit multiple times?
A previous blog entry, Bluffers Beach in Summer, gave details on visiting the large beach on the east side. This blog post is about the park instead of the beach.
There is a small beach on this hike, but on a holiday or weekend, this might fill up fast. People like to arrive early with food and shelter to stay the day.
My suggested route is 4 km at the most and starts in the parking lot at the southern end of Brimley Road, furthest to the right (west).
Parking is free during weekdays until 5 pm, but you must pay on weekends, holidays and evenings.
Once you've parked, you'll see storage buildings designed to look similar to the bluffs.
Use the path on the right, closest to the bluffs.
The trails in this section do not provide a access to the top of the Bluffs. It is unwise to climb the bluffs, and you'll see many signs to warn of the danger. A future blog entry will cover the details of hiking the meadows above the Bluffers Park.
Visit the blog entry, Gates Gully and the Doris McCarthy trail, to learn about a path you can hike from the top of the bluffs to a rocky beach.
Dunker's Flow Balancing System
You'll cross a stream with water flowing from the top of the bluffs. On your left, you'll see a series of five ponds separated by docks and fenced off areas. This system was invented by Karl Dunkers of Sweden and helps reduce the effects of pollution from runoff water flowing from sewers before entering Lake Ontario.
The ponds are rich with life in the form of small animals like mink, birds of all kinds, and plants such as water lilies.
The path takes you to a small beach that is popular with families and photographers.
Off-Leash OpportunitiesThere isn't an official off-leash area in the park, so if the beach is empty, you may be safe to let your dog off-leash. Consider bringing a Flexi-leash or a long leash so you can have control of your dog while as he or she swims in the lake.
At the end of the beach, walk across the branches to continue the walk, or turn back and cross on the docks.
The choice will be natural for your dog, but if you don't want to risk falling into the cold water, walk back to access the docks.
These docks separate the five ponds that make up the Dunker's Flow System. Walking along the docks is a highlight of this hike. A few of the docks seem to be in rough shape, but luckily they are behind locked gates. Enjoy the flowers and birds in the area.
The dock will lead you to the park that features picnic tables, large rocks, Muskoka chairs, benches, and BBQs.
Lucy's already learned that she has to model for me at this point and jumps up on the rocks and poses.
Follow the trail along the shore. This is a deeper part of Lake Ontario and attracts boaters, SUPpers, and, when the wind is strong, even surfers.
Bluffers Park is made up of two peninsulas. You've just walked through the first one called "Bluff's Park Lookout". The second one is currently under construction, so instead, head over to the marina.
The boat launch area is filled with water birds. Often there are swans as well as geese and ducks.
During the pandemic lockdown, many of the city public washrooms were closed. They seem to be open for the summer, and you'll pass by on your way to the marina.
Part of the marina is open to the public, including the snack bar and restaurant. There is a separate access point and parking lot for members.
Marina Snack Bar and Restaurant
After walking the beach and park, visit the restaurant or snack bar for a bite to eat. The snack bar is definitely open with Phase 2 of the Toronto opening after COVID. There are a few picnic tables available.
The Bluffers Restaurant and Grill had to close during the pandemic, so call ahead to see if they are open if you have plans to eat a full meal during your visit.
The history of the Toronto shoreline is interesting. My go-to-place for reading about Toronto history is the GTA Hiking Blog. Read the entry Sand Castles - Scarborough Bluffs to learn how this area got its name, the amount of erosion that occurs each year, and more about the Dunker's Flow Water System.
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Watch for future posts to extend your hike in this fabulous park.