Earl Bales Dog Park and a River Walk
A visit to the dog park followed by a walk along the Don River
The route I recommend is a 5 km hike. Use the parking lot for the Earl Bales Dog Park that is located on Don River Blvd.
Start your visit at the off-leash dog park. This is one of the better dog parks I've seen as it is large and has a run in the forest for dogs to chase each other.
After visiting the dog park, walk down Don River Blvd, cross the bridge and turn right onto the trail immediately before the first house.
Before you get to the Sheppard Overpass, you'll see a fork in the trail. For this walk, take the left trail which is through the Addington Greenbelt. It takes you to the intersection of Elmhurst and Senlac.
This trail is about half a km each way and gets muddy during and after a rain. Attempts have been made to improve the trail with wood decking, pallets, and branches.
Throughout this part of the hike, Lucy was able to play off-leash. There were no other people and there were no dangerous spots. She was taunted by several squirrels so she had a great run in the hilly forest.
We passed under the Addington Street overpass, decorated with music-inspired graffiti.
At the end of the trail, turn back and return to the spot where this trail started.
When you get to the start of this trail, turn left and follow the trail immediately next to the Don River. Pass under the Sheppard Overpass and stay on the unpaved trail.
There are many side trails that I haven't explored yet. I suspect they go to neighbouring streets or backyards.
The trail is narrow and flat, so there if there are other people on the trail, it will be difficult to let your dog off-leash along this section.
The water is shallow in several areas, but where it's not, the current can be strong, so be careful about letting your dog in the river.
You're at the end of this trail once you reach the golf course. It is possible to continue along paths in the forest that go to Gwendolen Park, but if you parked at the Earl Bales Dog Park, this trail will take you too far.
Don Valley Golf Course
During the summer, you cannot walk on the golf course. In the winter, you can bring your dogs onto this and many other courses in Toronto. See a blog entry I wrote in February, Earl Bales Park for hikes through the Don Valley Golf course in winter. In the summer, you can only admire the beautiful course through an opening in the forest and then turn back to where you parked your car.
The creative people of Toronto have been leaving painted rocks and birdhouses in city forests to bring a bit of joy during these challenging times. I very much appreciated every single item I spotted and have a page dedicated to showcases these treasures. See Things You See When Hiking.
Earl Bales Dog Park is a great starting point for several hikes. See my blog post, Earl Bales Dog Park and York Cemetery, for details on a 3 km hike the forest next to the cemetery.
Watch for further posts on different options.
Enjoy your walk! When you post photos to Instagram, tag us at @hikingtoronto or #hikingtorontowithlucy