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Nature in the City: Why Photographers Love The Rouge National Urban Park

Photos and article by Elvis Luke Fernandez.

Additional photos by Chris Noronha.
Production and editing by Mike Simpson.

Feature image of Rouge Park and Toronto skyline by Elvis Luke Fernandez and Mike Simpson (taken at Beare Hill Park, may be closed)

Before you go

Check out the government of Canada website https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/on/rouge for any advisories or closures. There can be seasonal road or trail closures and warnings about coyotes and bears. Please also observe Corona-virus related public health directives.

Lastly please note that in warmer months you have to be aware of ticks, which are a concern for hikers and dog walkers, particularly if you go off trail. Review this advisory.

Photographer Chris Noronha says, “Ticks are definitely a problem, especially now with all the rain we’ve had. I picked one off of me two days ago on a trail in Ajax. So spraying your legs and neck with repellent and checking yourself after a hike is always a good practice. Especially in the dense wooded areas.”

View of Scarborough, Toronto, from the top of Zoo Rd at Vista Trailhead (photo: @elshoots_)

Photographers Love the Rouge!

Be it landscape, portrait, nature, macro, skyline or just getting out for a relaxing stroll, the Rouge has it all. Rouge National Urban Park is North America’s largest urban protected park and it’s right here in the GTA. All year round it’s an amazing place for a quick hike or if you’re passionate about photography it’s an awesome place for landscape or nature photos.

For me, thinking of a spot to practice my skills as a hobbyist photographer, the first place which comes to mind is Rouge. The resources and the wealth that Rouge holds helps me to step out of my comfort zone and challenges me to capture what catches my eye.

Flora and fauna in the Rouge Valley by @elshoots_

I have been to Rouge a couple of times mostly in fall and a few times during winter. Whatever the season Rouge has its beauty. I enjoy spending time there shooting landscapes, wildlife and climbing up the hill to shoot the city skyline. It’s fun having to climb the treacherous route full of grass and taking a really good skyline picture gives me a sense of accomplishment.

I remember clicking my first picture in the Rouge Valley and it’s almost been two years into photography now. I love exploring the rugged path that never fails to amaze. The silence and peace you get walking through the trail is unreal, it’s close to home and a quick getaway from reality. It’s just you, your camera and the magic that the Rouge park offers.

Without a doubt, Rouge is the go to spot for me. Have you explored the park? Let us know in the comments on the Instagram post.

Rouge Park landscapes by @chrisnoronhaphoto / left: roots near Twyn Rivers drive, and right: pond at Cedar Trail.

Overview of the Park and History of the Rouge Valley Area

Rouge National Urban Park, is a protected zone in the Greater Toronto Area that encompasses much of the valleys of Rouge River and Little Rouge Creek. A total of 79.1 Km2 of land had been committed to the park which includes parts of Toronto, Markham, Pickering and the Township of Uxbridge.

The park terminates at the shoreline of Lake Ontario where the mouth of Rouge River meets the lake. The park embodies wetlands, ponds, ravines, forests, meadows and historic farms. It is the only national park that is easily accessible to almost 20% of Canada’s population by public transport. The park holds close to 1000 plant species, 247 species of birds, 73 species of fish, 44 species of mammals and 27 reptiles and amphibian species.

Summer paddle under the Rouge Beach pedestrian bridge (photo: @elshoots_)

Sunbathing turtles in the river in the Rouge Park (photo: @elshoots_)

Human presence in the park dates back more than 10,000 years and includes some of the oldest known Indigenous sites in Canada. Archaeological remains of more than a dozen Iroquoian villages have been found there. Bead Hill, just upstream from the mouth of Rouge River, is the only whole well preserved 17th century Seneca Village known in Canada. A historic camp site dating 3000 BCE as well as many other burial sites are located east of the village.


Rouge Park holds 10 hiking trails, Parks Canada recommends using the Rouge App from Apple Store or Google Play for best experience.

Map: Vista Trailhead off the main road (Zoo Rd east of Meadowvale Rd.)

About the Author

Elvis Luke Fernandez is a health care professional. “Photography is my passion – an art form that makes me feels alive. Capturing nature at its finest is what I love doing when I’m not working. For me photography is the way I share my memories and experiences.”

Check out Elvis’ Instagram: @elshoots_

Additional Photography by @chrisnoronhaphoto

Produced and edited by

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