Wilderness escapes in Toronto? Yes!
It seems as if Simon and I are always counting down the seconds until we can pick up our camera bags, our tent, and a billion meal replacement bars in order to head out on the long road to Yellowstone National Park, where we begin a summer long journey across the wild west to fulfil our itch for wildlife photography.
We often need to escape our smoggy and grey downtown Toronto view for a taste of the “wild” during the year.
Simon, being a wonderful researcher, discovered several places that might hold us over, while continuing our countdown to June.
Firstly, we discovered Leslie Spit, which was exactly 15 minutes away from our condo. I could not believe it. There we were, standing in nature, yet able to see the city skyline right behind us. It was a great way to quickly get a little dose of some crisp, fresh air.
The investigation continued, and we found several other worthy candidates for a quick escape from the city.
Below is a list the top 5 ‘wilderness’ escapes in and around the city of Toronto, that we have discovered:
5. Lynde Shores Conservation Area – It’s about a 45 minute drive from downtown Toronto to find this nature retreat, but worth it to hike around a swampy scene filled with deer, birds and beaver! We discovered several species of owl in the area, including the Northern Saw-Whet and Barred Owls.
4. Colonel Sam Smith Park – 25 minutes outside of downtown, this park allows you to explore the trails along the Toronto waterfront. We’ve only been here once, but it was a peaceful spot.
3. High Park – This park is surrounded by the Gardiner Expressway to the south, Bloor Street to the north, and subdivisions on either side. We’ve discovered turtles, (signs of) beavers and herons aplenty here!
The only down side to this ‘escape’ is that it is often too crowded, especially on the weekends and holidays. So time it right if you want to get away from throngs of people.
2. Rouge Park – Right next to the Toronto Zoo, Canada’s soon-to-be first urban national park boasts many bird, mammal, plant and reptile species, including some that are endangered.
The fall is one of the best times to wander through this protected area, as the trees make a colourful background for your hikes.
1. Leslie Spit/Tommy Thompson Park – It’s home to countless species of birds, mink, beaver, muskrat, fox, coyote and owl. This is one of our more frequent stops. Not only can we find the wildlife here, but it is much more secluded (for Toronto) the further in the park you hike.
Time to escape the city smog!