Location: Toronto – from Sherwood Park to Allan Gardens via the Don Valley trail system
Duration: 3 hours, about 15 km
Weather: Sunshine and blue skies, but crisp at -7C with a -12C wind chill
Today’s walk was about exercise and stretching out on a fine winter day. I wanted to get at least 3 hours or so, and needed to end up at my nephew’s place downtown near Allan Gardens.
I decided to get there via the Don Valley trail system, so from our home in the Avenue Road & Eglinton area I went east on Briar Hill Avenue to Yonge Street, then kept going east on Sherwood Road to Sherwood Park. In the park I took the Burke’s Brook trail east to Bayview Avenue.
From there it’s safest to cross Bayview at the crosswalk at Kilgour Road, and then I could continue east on Kilgour all the way to its end, where I connected with the access road down into Sunnybrook Park. I walked through the west end of the park past the dog run area to the bridge across the West Don River.
Then it was east through Sunnybrook Park into Wilket Creek Park, almost to Leslie street, crossing the creek itself at the bridge where it joins the West Don River, and then turned south to follow the trail parallel to the river.
The trail goes under Eglinton Avenue into E.T. Seton Park to become the West Don Trail. At the north end of this park is a disc golf course, and there were a few players out today since there was no snow.
I kept going south to the trail junction to the Taylor Creek Trail under Don Mills Road and through to the Lower Don Trail, which is where the East and West Don rivers join into the Don River.
The Lower Don Trail continues south along the east side of the river to Pottery Road, and you can either stay on the east bank and follow the main trail, or cross to the west bank and take the side trail along Bayview Ave, which is what I did in order to go to the Don Valley Brickworks for a quick pit stop.
Once up that hill (stiff climb), I connected with Glen Road and went south across the Rosedale Valley on the Glen Road pedestrian bridge and under Bloor street to the south end of Glen Road to connect with Howard Street and over to the west to Sherborne Street, then south on Sherborne to Carlton Street to end at Allan Gardens.
All of that made for a long walk. My pace was pretty good, and I had worked up quite a sweat even though it was a cold day. That’s actually one of the harder things to manage when it’s cold – if you start sweating then you’ll get chilled as soon as you stop walking, so you’re better to wear layers and remove them as needed to stay warm but not sweating. I didn’t do that so by the time I got to my nephew’s I was actually over-heated for this weather.
The great thing about the walk was the weather. I’ve done more or less that same route in summer, and the walk through E.T. Seton Park, in particular, can be brutal when the sun is blazing down. Today, though it was cold it was good walking weather and the trails were dry and free of ice. Walking the Don River trail system covers several of my favourite routes and if I hadn’t had a destination today I would have kept going all the way to Corktown Common.
The history along the way is wonderful. You pass through former country estates (Sunnybrook), former mills and farms (Todmorden), former brick foundries (the Brickworks), and very different neighbourhoods ranging from Rosedale (one of Toronto’s richest) to St. James Town (not one of Toronto’s richest).
As I’ve said before, Toronto’s park and trail systems are amongst my favourite jewels of the city. Do this walk any time of the year, and you might see deer, coyotes, hawks, falcons, ducks, geese, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, skunk, turtles, frogs, and fish. Were it not for the traffic noise from the nearby roads, you could be fooled into thinking you’re out on a country walk. And yet, you can get into any part of this system via public transit. I love it. Walk the Don and find out for yourself.