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walk-w03-high-park-western-ravines

W03_0232_86Wood duck in High Park

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Walk Info

This is an interesting walk through one of the city's oldest and largest parks known as High Park. The trail passes Grenadier Pond with it's aquatic life and reaches the shores of Lake Ontario before swinging back up passing West Pond and crossing a bridge at Indigo Pond to return.

Lat/Long: N43.65361 W79.46544

08 Apr 08

6.7 km

Beginner

2.5 h

none

This High Park Western Ravines walk is mostly flat with slight hills; a few wet areas.

Anywhere in High Park or on Ellis Ave.

Washrooms near the park entrance

 

THE SITE

High Park is one of the city’s oldest parks with a variety of wildlife and vegetation including Carolinian and mixed forest areas. Grenadier Pond is popular for fishing and skating.  Toronto’s boardwalk dating back to the 1920s follows the Lake Ontario shoreline. The nearby Sunnyside Pavilion opened in 1922. Further on you will pass West Pond (Catfish Pond) with its’ spring-fed marsh.

High Park is also the largest park in Toronto, Ontario spanning 161 hectares (400 acres). It is a mixed recreational and natural park, with sporting facilities, cultural facilities, educational facilities, gardens, playgrounds and a zoo. One third of the park remains in a natural state, with a rare oak savanna ecology.

Grenadier Pond , is a large [14.2 hectares (35 acres)] body of water located on the western edge of the park. It is named after the local Town of York garrison of the 1800s and their use of the pond for fishing. There are two local myths circulating about the Pond. One is that British Grenadiers fell through its thin ice when crossing to defend the city in the War of 1812. Other myths include that the pond is 'bottomless', that is, its depth cannot be measured due to the amount of mud. Fishing remains a popular pastime. Fish caught in the pond are safe to eat, and fishing derbies and casting contests have been held there.

The Eastern Ravine starts at the north-east corner at Bloor and Keele Streets as a forested area around a spring-fed pond. The ravine has a small stream winding south to small ponds just north of The Queensway. South of the forested area are the grassy, developed areas for picnicking, the adventure playground, and the zoo. The ponds, which also hold back storm water, drain into pipes and discharge into Lake Ontario. The Eastern Ravine is known to  lie over a buried river.

In 1836, John George Howard purchased a 160-acre property in the County of York, to the west of Toronto, for a sheep farm, at the cost of $1,000.00. It was here that Howard designed and built Colborne Lodge , a Regency-style picturesque cottage in 1837 to complement its natural surroundings as the residence for himself and his wife Jemima Frances Meikle. The Howards named their property 'High Park' as it was situated on the highest point of land along the Humber Bay shoreline.


In 1873, Howard and his wife agreed to deed their country property to the City of Toronto. There were several conditions,  including that the Howards continue to live at their residence, no alcohol ever be served in the park, and that the City hold the park "for the free use, benefit and enjoyment of the Citizens of Toronto for ever and to be called and designated at all times thereafter High Park".

LOCATION

Take the Bloor Subway line to High Park Station

W03-high-park-western-ravines

WAYPOINT WALK DESCRIPTION

001 - 002From the subway station, walk to the corner of Bloor West and High Park Ave and cross the street at the stoplight to enter the park. At the Discovery sign take the path to the right. The trail passes a parking lot on the left and passes a maintenance shed and a playground before arriving at another Discovery sign. Take the earth path curving to the right down into the ravine. At the bottom the trail swings to the left and follows the edge of the ravine where houses can be seen down below. Soon the trail arrives at Grenadier Pond on the right and a small concrete bridge with a metal railing (002).

002 - 003Continue straight ahead without crossing the bridge and soon a second bridge appears. Continue to the left not crossing this bridge as well. The trail arrives at the top of Grenadier Pond where Mallards and Geese can be seen in the water as the trail continues along the edge of the pond. Crossing a small bridge the trail keeps to the side of the pond. To your left take a small detour to see the large Floral Clock. Ahead a small observation area extends a bit into the pond.  The trail curves to the right around the bottom of the pond. Take either the paved path or the dirt path along the edge of the pond. The trail swings to the left away from the pond and arrives at Lakeshore Road and the crossing at the stoplights (003).

003 - 004After a few underpasses the trail reaches Lakeshore Blvd where you cross at the lights and head straight down to the waterfront. Turn right past geese and swans (or do a small detour to the left to Sunnyside Pavilion and Park). At the playground turn right (004). [Optional: You could walk further to the beautiful Humber Bay pedestrian/bike bridge and return.]

004 - 005Pass under the Gardiner Expressway back to the park area. On Ellis Avenue you will see another Discovery Walk map. Cross the road for a rest or lunch at the picnic bench. Then continue to follow Ellis Ave which begins to climb slightly. The trail passes Grenadier Heights St and a sign on a light pole indicates a street crossing is in order.  A set of steps heads down the incline (005) with a path along the pond.

005 - 002Pass between the outdoor ice rink and the adjacent building and pass the water fountain and tennis courts. Continue past the circle and the playground and a path leads back out to the street. Turn right onto Morningside Ave and head up the hill. Continue on Morningside past Ellis Ave where Morningside begins to head downhill. The path leaves Morningside just past the power substation and heads across a bridge over Indigo Pond back to (002).

002 - 006Continue back along the path. At the intersection where the trail goes up the hill with a drainage ditch down the centre, head left up the trail with the wooden berms. The trail takes you to Bloor West where you can cross the street to Quebec Avenue and the TTC subway station where you began the walk (006).

Enjoy the walk and the day!

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