Explore Henry Farm and Betty Sutherland Park
In a previous blog entry Betty Sutherland Trail, I documented a hike in Betty Sutherland Park from Graydon Hall to North York General Hospital. In that post, I suggested parking near Graydon Hall. This post shows a similar hike beginning on Havenbrook Blvd and traveling south along the Don River on nature trails where ever possible.
This route, as shown, is about 3 km in length. It is easily shortened or lengthened as needed.
Park along Havenbrook Blvd in front of giant green space next to the 401.
The field has a baseball diamond but would be perfect for playing fetch with your dog. On days when the heat isn't scorching, I've seen families sitting on the hill enjoying the fresh air.
Follow the paved path past the children's playground and tennis courts.
To the right of the path, there is a copse of trees next to fenced backyards.
The house with a tower and conical roof piqued my interest. I learned that it is the former home of George S. Henry, Premier of Ontario, from 1930 - 1934. There is a nearby high school named after George S. Henry as well, so perhaps those who went to that school already know the history of Henry?
His house, built in 1924, was named Oriole Lodge after the birds that nested in the area. It is now a private residence and is home to two large dogs.
Follow the path to the river. You can travel north to Sheppard Ave or south to Duncan Mill Road. For this hike, turn left to go south under the 401.
Just past the bench with garbage bins, you can leave the paved path to walk on a well-established natural trail along the river.
This part of the river is shallow, giving your dog a chance to play in the water. Make sure you wear footwear that can get wet or muddy.
Between the trail and the river bottom, you can travel quite a ways without joining the paved path.
Why avoid the paved path? This trail is very heavily used by cyclists in the summer. This is part of the bike trail system that people use to get to the lakeshore. When you are on the paved path, be sure to keep your dog on a leash and in control. Most of the cyclists are respectful and use their bells to alert you when they are getting close.
You'll eventually get to a point where you need to leave the river and cross the paved path. On the other side of the trail is a forested hill with plenty of trails. Follow the path that is covered in wood chips.
Continue along this trail until the path veers to the right. Take the path to the left that is narrow with tall plants on either side. The mosquitos aren't bad, but bring repellent if you want to avoid getting bites.
You'll be surprisingly close to the 404 / DVP ramp on the 401 East Bound lanes.
Continue on this path until you've explored the trails on the hill and you reach a staircase that takes you back to the paved trail.
Off-road cyclists use these trails on occasion, but often you'll find you can have your dog off-leash while on this hill.
At this point, you can head back to your car using the paved path or retrace your route along the riverbank.
The birds love this area and sing loud enough that they drown out the sound of traffic from the highway. I've seen blue jays, robins, woodpeckers, and red-winged blackbirds while hiking this trail. I was able to get photos of a goldfinch and cardinal on my most recent hike.
During a heatwave, you're most likely to run into furry friends if you hike either early or late in the day.
If you feel like hiking some more, there are many options.
1) Continue south to Duncan Mill and Graydon Hall. Or in the winter, to Donalda Golf Course.
2) Go north to loop onto Manorpark Court.
3) Go north to Sheppard Ave.
4) Cross Sheppard Ave to the East Don River Trail to Finch Ave.
Enjoy your walk! When you post photos to Instagram, tag us at @hikingtoronto or #hikingtorontowithlucy
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