Although we said good bye to the hot days of summer, the cool breeze of autumn air still offers the opportunity to bundle up and enjoy the outdoors before the arrival or the dreaded winter. Caring for a dog is a great excuse to spend your free time outside, whether it is enjoying long walks around your neighbourhood or exploring the abundance of parks and green spaces Toronto has to offer.
A dog-friendly city such as Toronto, offers an abundance of off-leash dog parks in nearly every neighbourhood. But although off-leash dog parks are a convenient way for our four-legged friends to play and socialize with other furry pals, not all dogs have the same level of energy or enthusiasm to play. Many older dogs, for example, can’t keep up with the pups at the playground and long walks are more their pace. That doesn’t mean that they can’t have fun!
While caring for an older dog, I’m noticing that my 15-year-old border collie Logan is less interested in hanging out in the dog park and looks forward to long walks or hikes with me. This past season we spent a lot of time enjoying the outdoors and discovering the city’s parks, hiking trails and strolling spots. Here are our favourites, which I’m sure we will keep visiting well into the winter months.
Scarborough Bluffs Park
This picturesque park is located In the east end of Toronto by Lake Ontario, at 1 Brimley Road South. It lies one of the most unique geographical sites with the bluffs rising from the shores of the lake like a natural cathedral. In the summer, the beach is the main attraction, filled with sun worshipers and beach bums. But the soaring vistas of azure Lake Ontario and a blanket of of red, orange and yellow foliage turn this summer destination into a picturesque setting in the cooler months. The park is divided into three sections - picnic/BBQ area, the beach and the marina. The Scarborough Bluffs stretches for about 14km along the lake shore, from Eastern Beaches of Toronto in the west to West Hill in the east. At their highest, the bluffs rise 65 meters above the water. The walking trail below the bluffs leading through the park and some of the naturalized areas give the impression that you are far away from the city, even though you’re only a 30 minute drive from downtown Toronto.
The Beaches Boardwalk
A few kilometres closer to the downtown, in The Beach neighbourhood, you’ll find the Beaches Boardwalk. Years ago, when I called this Toronto neighbourhood home, the Boardwalk was Logan’s favourite hang out. In fact, it’s still is! The Beach is a special part of the city. It feels more like a lakeside resort town, rather than a Toronto neighbourhood. To say that one can spend an entire day exploring this special little nook of the city is not an exaggeration by any means. The Boardwalk is a perfect place to enjoy a leisurely stroll with your furry pal. Just south of Woodbine Park, home of the annual Woofstock Dog Festival, The Boardwalk starts at Woodbine Beach and runs about 5 kilometres along the lake shore, all the way to Balmy Beach, near the historic RC Harris Water Treatment Plant. It’s a great place to stretch your legs and enjoy the breeze from the lake. There is also an off-leash dog park that allows dogs to run, play and socialize. Just north of the boardwalk is Kew Gardens, which hosts many seasonal events including a Christmas Tree and Menorah lighting festival. Want to treat your pup after a long walk? Stop by No Bones About It Dog Daycare and Grooming on Queen Street East, north of Balmy Beach Park, and treat your fur baby to a grooming service. On wet and muddy autumn days, it’s an excellent way to end the day before the ride home.
On the west end of Toronto, stretching south from Bloor Street West to The Queensway, just north of Lake Ontario, this fantastic city gem can be enjoyed no matter the season. The park offers 300 acres of land to be explored, including forested area, creeks, Grenadier Pond, recreation areas and well-maintained parkland. Although High Park is enjoyed by thousands in the summer, it’s a pretty magical place in the autumn days. The perfect way to take in the beauty of High Park in the fall is by exploring the trails. Hiking through the east-side trails will make you feel like you’re in cottage country. If you or your dog prefer a slower pace, take a stroll along Grenadier Pond where the path is dotted with benches, perfect for taking in the beautiful fall foliage. There is an off-leash area inside the park located between Grenadier Restaurant and the High Park zoo. It’s not fully fenced so be sure to keep an eye on your pup. It’s impossible to walk the entire park in one day. That’s the great thing about it. Each time you comeback, there is new path for you and your best pal to explore together!
Kay Gardner Beltline Trail
The Kay Gardner Beltline Park and Trail are a unique part of Toronto's parks and ravines. The trail follows an old railway line from Allen Road south of Elm Ridge Drive and west to Mount Pleasant Cemetery. It is a great way to see the city along old ravines and through hidden green spaces. The Park is also a part of the Central Ravines, Beltline and Gardens Discovery Walk, and it’s definitely a hot spot for nature lovers all over the city. This is one of my and Logan’s favourite trails on a Sunday afternoon. After a quick stop for a hot cup of java from Crosstown Coffee Bar, we stroll over to Oriole Park and hit the trail. Although the trail spans over 9 kilometres, it seems so hidden away. Starting just north of Eglinton West Station, the Beltline Trail follows the former rail line south, passing through several other parks along the way. After crossing a bridge at Yonge Street, the trail enters Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Although the trail is bound by only a thin ribbon of trees and runs between the backyards of local residences for most of its length, an afternoon stroll feels like a total escape from the city. That’s why we love it!
Do you and your pooch love the outdoors? Check out My Top Toronto Off-Leash Dog Parks. If you share your life with a four-legged friend and looking for helpful tips of living with pets, check out 8 Simple Rules To Moving With Dogs to help you make your move less stress full on all member of your family, including your furry ones. And check out Tips To Help Pet Owners Keep Their Homes Clean to help you maintain a tidy home.
Guest Writer: Monika MacMillan, Sales Representative
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage - (416) 530-1100