East is East: Walking, Exploring and Getting Fit in Toronto’s East End Neighbourhoods (Part One)

This is part 1 of a two-part series by Toronto writer / photographer Donna Chong aka @donnachong21

After two years of Covid and lockdown, we know one of the best and safest things we can do for our health both physically and mentally is to go outside. Go for a walk, a run, go biking, skating, cross country skiing, get some fresh air, Vitamin D and get moving!

I’m an East Yorker and I love being out with my dogs walking and running. This post covers some of my favourite places to go for a walk around my neighbourhood and the east end of Toronto. After a refreshing walk in the park or at the beach, you can reward yourself with a bubble tea, hot chocolate or a stop at one of these great east end neighborhoods for a snack, brunch or dinner and support local businesses. I’ll be talking about some of the east end neighbourhoods to visit along with the many great parks.

Here are some places that I’ll cover in part 1:

  • Taylor Creek park
  • Stan Wadlow park
  • East Danforth from Victoria Park to Coxwell
  • Scarborough Bluffs
  • Mud Creek trail/Moore park ravine
  • The Brickworks

The east end of Toronto has wonderful parks. They are family and dog friendly with great playgrounds and skating rinks, pools and beaches, and beautiful forested, ravine parks to enjoy nature in the city. There are hilly parks for tobogganing fun in the winter and are great year round for picnics with wonderful views of our skyline. Don’t forget to bring along your camera to capture those sunset views while you’re out.

Taylor Creek Park and Stan Wadlow

I like to mix forested, ravine park walks with lakeside beach walks. In the summer especially, our forested ravine parks offer a cool respite from the harsh sun and the hot humid weather. One of the best of these ravine parks is Taylor Creek park. I have seen wildlife here including coyotes, deer, hawks, foxes, rabbits and martens. Taylor Creek park links up to the lower Don Trail to the south and if you follow the main trail going southwest it will lead you to the Martin Goodman trail along the lakeshore and eastward to the Beach. To the north, Taylor Creek links up to E.T. Seton park, Serena Gundy park, Wilket Creek and Sunnybrook Park.  Taylor Creek is quiet away from the DVP, and with the sound of the creek flowing, it is a tranquil, beautiful place especially after a big snow in the winter or in the fall with the bright, colourful, reds, oranges and yellows of autumn. With the creek and a few marshes throughout the park, in the late spring early summer you can follow the loud sound of croaking frogs and see them in the ponds and at night watch the fireflies as they glow and flit around. You can choose to stay on the main, flat trail or head up higher on the hills to some of the other trails. Crossing over the many bridges to the north side of the creek, you will encounter many dogs as it is unofficially off leash and frequented by many local dog lovers. Bordering Taylor Creek park to the south is Stan Wadlow park, with tobogganing hills, a great skateboard park and a public pool. Here on Canada Day you can catch some great local fireworks as well as the Canada day parade and celebrations.

Danforth Village

After your walk at Taylor Creek, head to the Danforth. East of Main, there is a thriving Muslim community of little grocery stores and Halal restaurants where you can get some tasty Shawarma. If you love fish and chips, head to Len Duckworth’s. They have been serving fish and chips since 1929, almost a century! After that, grab a Real Fruit bubble tea for dessert in a cup–yummy milk teas and mango drinks in the Shopper’s World plaza. West of Woodbine, there’s an eclectic mix of different restaurants, bakeries and coffee shops. Our newest neighbour is Second City with some great comedy shows worth checking out. The Danforth Village BIA recently installed some beautiful lighting along the Danforth from Victoria Park to Main. These new lights change colours too.

Scarborough Bluffs

Next amongst my top places in the east are the Scarborough bluffs and Bluffer’s park. The bluffs are a unique formation in our city and the closest we’ll get to mountains.  On the west side are the well known, often photographed bluffs and on the east side is the popular bluffer’s park and beach in the summer. Make sure you arrive early on weekends. Often the police will close off the entrance to cars if you arrive too late. There’s a unique community of people who live on houseboats full time that you can check out here while on your walk. Both sides of the bluffs make for a great walk. In the spring, I’ve seen egrets here, foxes and rabbits. It’s always great being by the water year round. Sometimes people like to head to the top of the bluffs to shoot. Be aware that there is a hefty fine if you’re caught going over the fence and be careful as portions of the bluffs do collapse periodically.

Mud Creek trail/ Moore Park ravine

Next on my list of favourite forest walks is the Mud Creek trail also known as the Moore park ravine leading to the Brickworks. It is a beautiful shady ravine trail part of the beltline trail that links to David Balfour park south of the Brickworks and to Milkman’s way in Rosedale. It’s popular with walkers, runners, cyclists and dog lovers. In the late spring I look forward to seeing the many turtles at the ponds at the Brickworks come out of hibernation to sun themselves and in early summer the sight of all the beautiful lily pads in bloom is not something that should be missed.  Where else can you see a Monet painting come to life? Keep your eyes open for the beaver dams in the ponds and herons.The trail is partly closed currently due to construction but you can still access it at Chorley park dropping down into the ravine. The trail takes you under the CP railroad bridge and it’s always interesting to stop when the trains are passing overhead on the bridge. At the Brickworks on Saturdays is one of the largest Farmers’ markets in the city where you can pick up produce and stop for a great snack. It opens from 8 am to 1 pm. Sundays you can find the Artisan and Vintage market there. While you’re there don’t forget to head up to the lookout to see a great view of the skyline. Unfortunately the CN Tower is now obscured by the new CIBC building but the view is still great. There’s a unique skating trail in the winter at the Brickworks that is worth checking out.

Other trails and parks worth checking out that make you forget that you are living in the city:

  • Doris McCarthy trail, east of the Bluffs, quieter and more remote waterfront trail, rocky shoreline, a great trail to run with your dog. Goes to Guildwood park eastward
  • Moccasin trail park and Charles Sauriol conservation area
  • East Point park and Port Union waterfront trail leading to Rouge beach
  • Warden Woods

Did you know?

  • Toronto’s tree canopy has a whopping 10.2 million trees
  • The percentage of tree coverage is an incredible 28%
  • The city has an amazing visionary goal of a 40% tree canopy cover by 2050 to become one of the most livable cities in the world. The City generously provides free trees through Community Planting & Stewardship Grants for Neighbourhood Tree Giveaways. Free trees and shrubs are for Toronto residents only and can only be planted within City boundaries. Each year you can also volunteer to help plant trees. Check out the city of Toronto’s website for more information.
  • You can call the city to plant a free tree on your front yard property shared with the city. I did!

Be sure to follow the writer / photographer @donnachong21

Check out our events including photo walk meetups and Toronto walking tours at our site Tdot.com/events

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