Cedar Trail in Rouge National Urban Park

The Cedar Trail has become my favourite hike of Rouge Park. The path has less traffic than the Vista or Orchard trails and takes you from a pond through a forest to the river with plenty of opportunity for off-leash play, birdwatching, and wildlife spotting.

Lucy on the Cedar Trail, Rouge Park

Lucy was able to be off-leash for most of the hike as we encountered very few people. 

Suggested Route

The hike is about 6 km in length, including the walk to and from the parking area to the trailhead. 

Cedar Trail, Rouge Park

Parking

Park on the road near the Rouge Valley Conservation Area.

Sign for Cedar Trail, Rouge Park

Walk down the service road towards the Cedar and Orchard Trails. There are signs at the trailheads, so avoid the temptation to follow one of the side trails for now.

Lucy on the Rouge Park service road towards Cedar Trail

The Pond

The Cedar Trail begins with a walk along the pond. This is where you're likely going to see a lot of wildlife. On one visit, we encountered staff from the Toronto Zoo, releasing painted turtles in the pond. They were quickly welcomed into the habitat by the locals.

Pond next to Cedar Trail, Rouge Park

Birdwatching

Belted Kingfishers, Cedar Waxwings, Cardinals, Eastern Kingbirds, Great Blue Herons were the birds we were able to identify and photograph on the hike.

Belted Kingfisher in the pond next to Cedar Trail, Rouge Park

Cedar Waxwing in Cedar Trail, Rouge Park

Eastern Kingbird in Cedar Trail, Rouge Park

Goldfinch in Cedar Trail, Rouge Park

Cardinal in Cedar Trail, Rouge Park

The Forest

Once you approach the forest, you'll see signs for the Cedar Trail.

Beginning of Cedar Trail, Rouge Park

Follow the white blazes through the forest over boardwalks and stairs until you reach the river. 

Stairs in Cedar Trail, Rouge Park

The River

The trail continues through the forest, but it's worth taking some time to enjoy the Little Rouge River. Wildflowers grow along the banks, and hopefully, you'll see the Great Blue Heron that hunts this river.

Standing next to the river in Cedar Trail, Rouge Park

Great Blue Heron on Cedar Trail, Rouge Park

The Trail End

Walk through the forest until the trail ends at Meadowvale Road.

Forest in Cedar Trail, Rouge Park

We encountered deer in this part of the forest. I think there are plenty of deer in Rouge Park, but they are experts at hiding when they hear approaching hikers.

Deer seen on Cedar Trail, Rouge Park

When the trail ends at Meadowvale, I recommend turning back and retracing your steps until you get back to the pond. 

End of Cedar Trail, Rouge Park

When you get back to the pond, keep to the left to complete a circle of the pond. You'll end up back on the service road near the train crossing. Notice the fence on the other side. This is a new trail that is scheduled to open soon.

Railway crossing in Rouge Park

Extend Your Hike

My obsession with making a loop for each hike caused me to try walking along Meadowvale Ave instead of turning back. Here are my experiences.

Turn left on Meadowvale Ave

This took across a narrow bridge where I walked along the side of busy Meadowvale Road. I went past Toronto Zoo parking lots and fields. At one point, we saw wild turkeys. This might be a suitable walk without a dog, and on a day that isn't super hot. 

Turn right on Meadowvale Ave

This was a much longer route, likely because we went down a driveway that we hoped would circle back to the Rouge Park. It didn't. We turned onto Plug Hat Road, then Beare Road, and finally onto Finch Ave and walked past a honey stand. 

Honey stand near Rouge Park

We saw signs for the new Beare Hill Park that is in developed, but due to construction, the area is fenced off. 

Sign for Beare Park, Rouge Park

We turned onto a forest path and were able to get onto the new trail. We walked a long way until we came to a path across the train track. Again, this might be a great extension when you don't have a dog who likes forests and rivers instead of busy roads.

Orchard Trail

You can easily connect to the Orchard Trail after circling the pond. See our blog that combines the Orchard and Vista Trails.

Rouge River Side Trails

Between the parking area and the trailhead for the Orchard and Cedar Trails, there are unmarked side trails along the Rouge River. The one on the south (right-hand side) is a 1 km loop. I've been told that this is an excellent spot to see salmon migrating upriver.

Side trail next to Little Rouge River in Rouge Park

The trail to the north is more complicated. It takes you through several Toronto Zoo properties, including Valley Halla, which is a historical home. There are many "no trespassing" signs in the area, so we didn't feel comfortable exploring. There are online reviews of Valley Halla, so at one point, this was a place you could visit.

Valley Halla on Zoo Property near Rouge Park

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Enjoy your hike! When you post photos to Instagram, tag us at @hikingtoronto or #hikingtorontowithlucy.


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