Thursday, November 7, 2013

More of Toronto: Wandering the Rouge

Okay, so maybe I'm just partial to the area that I grew up in, but to my mind, Scarborough really just is one of the prettiest parts of Toronto. In addition to taking my friend out to visit the Bluffs, we also went for a bit of a wander in the Rouge Valley, my favourite place to soak in some much needed nature as a kid.

A hiker on one of the meadow trails in the Rouge Valley.

At 40km square, encompassing the Rouge River Watershed that runs the length of the Scarborough-Pickering border and stretching from Oak Ridges Moraine in the north to Lake Ontario in the south, Rouge Park was Canada's first National Park, and now has the honour of becoming our first Urban National Park. It's also home to Canada's largest wetland at Rouge Beach Park (known to locals as The Estuary) and a number of national historic sites.

A view of the valley from one of the hill tops. Taken in mid-September when the colours were only just beginning to hint at a change.

While I love the Rouge year round, my favourite time to visit is in the fall when it truly becomes apparent just how the area got it's name. With this year's extended summer, the colours were only beginning to hint at a change when we were there. Fortunately for everyone else, that means the fall colours are still in bloom - and I'd definitely suggest that everyone take advantage of the lovely weather we've been having to enjoy them! 

Rouge Beach Park, where the Rouge River meets Lake Ontario. Favourite local fishing spot and summertime hangout.

One of the best things about the Rouge is that there is something for everybody, meandering valley-walks, relaxing beaches and more strenuous uphill climbs. There's even tobogganing for the kids in the winter. For more info on Rouge Park, conservation, how to get there and the view points and hiking trails within it, check out the official Rouge Park and Toronto City websites.

My favourite part. The Rouge Beach Estuary, part of Canada's largest wetland. This place is beautiful in the summer, but even more fun in the winter when it freezes over and local kids clear the ice for some neighbourhood games of hockey.
For those who don't live in the east end of the city, never fear, the whole Greater Toronto Area is dotted with (admittedly smaller) parks like the Rouge. Some of my favourites are out near Burlington and Hamilton. I find the aptly named Rattlesnake Point to be especially lovely.

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