Northern Dancer's Playground
Hike Wilket Creek and the meadows of a famous racehorseThis isn't a huge park, but it fits all the criteria for a great, dog-friendly green space to take your dog, especially if they like to run like a racehorse. There's parking, paved trails, unpaved trails, a forest, a creek, and grass-covered hills.
ParkingThis path connects many beautiful neighbourhoods including Misty Crescent, Tudor Gate, Post Road, Bridal Path, and Banbury Road. If you aren't walking distance to the park, there are three different parking areas: York Mills Arena, Banbury Community Rec Centre, Canadian Film Centre.
Suggested 5 km route
The route I like to take is about 5 km in length and starts at Banbury Community Rec Centre.
Forest pathThe paved path from the Banbury Community Rec Centre takes you down a steep hill. At the bottom of the hill, make a sharp left for a walk in the forest.
The path takes you along Wilket Creek that is shallow and left to nature. Lucy has met many friends in this forest, including Hana, a golden retriever. This might be a place to let your dogs play off-leash if you don't mind them getting wet.
The forest canopy is very thick in the summer. If it's a hot day, you'll love the cooler temperatures deep in the woods. Along the way, you'll find plenty to explore such as a few teepees.
The footpath in the forest is narrow and if there are many people, you may find social distancing to be difficult.
We followed the creek for a while, but there is no real trail. If you want to continue along Wilket Creek, read our blog entry Wilket Creek Park.
BirdwatchingAfter leaving the forest, turn left to continue on the paved path. You'll come to a copse of trees where you'll hear or encounter robins, blue jays, woodpeckers, cardinals, and more. Not only is this park a paradise for dogs, but it also attracts many birds. The first time I visited, I stopped in my tracks at this point to listen to the music the birds were making. It's like the birds were having a party!
The benches along the river are strategically placed for you to sit and enjoy the birds.
After the meadow, turn left on the path going uphill to visit the Canadian Film Centre, which was initially the Windfield Farm.
It's in this forest where you might find hawks that are nesting.
Northern DancerThe thoroughbred racehorse called Northern Dancer, who won the Kentucky Derby in 1964, was born and raised on the Windfield Farm. The horse and 1500-acre horse breeding farm were owned by E.P. Taylor. The farm was named Windfields after E.P. Taylor's wife's family. After E.P.'s death, the farm was sold to developers.
The Canadian Film Centre (CFC) is now using many of the buildings that were part of the original farm. They've created a tribute to the history through film and by naming a building after the horse.
There is an apple orchard behind the Northern Dancer Pavilion that is beautiful when in bloom.
Head back down the hill and take the paved trail to the right to return to the Banbury Community Rec Centre.