Scarborough Nature Walks Part 2 – Doris McCarthy Trail
In Scarborough Nature Walks Part 1 we saw that, despite its reputation for endless subdivisions, Scarborough is home to some very interesting and unique urban nature walks.
The highlight of Part 1, Warden Woods, offers a walk through an area that’s proposed as an ‘Ecologically Significant Area’, yet subway stations sit near both ends of the trail.
Today’s nature walk is no less unique, but in very different ways. It’s been traversed by humans for 10,000 years; it’s a sanctuary for artists, and legend says that it holds buried treasure.
And, just to prove we’re not losing sight of the ‘nature’ part of the walk, Now Magazine calls the area ‘one of the geological marvels of North America’.
The Doris McCarthy Trail
Named for Doris McCarthy (1910 – 2010), one of Canada’s most accomplished artists of the 20th century and a local resident, the trail runs from Bellhaven Cresent, near Kingston Road, to the shore of Lake Ontario over 90 metres below at the foot of the Scarborough Bluffs.
But don’t be intimidated, the trail descends at a convenient pace and it can be covered in less than 20 minutes (but remember, you’ll have to walk back up, so consider an hour-long round trip.)
The trail offers a relatively easy hike through a ravine that’s full of sights and intrigue:
- Used by Humans Since 8000 BC – Relics found in the area show it to be the site of the earliest known human habitation in the GTA.
- Used by Smugglers Too – As one of the few walkable routes from the Lake Ontario shore to the top of the Scarborough Bluffs, the ravine has been used by store owners to wheel up goods, soldiers to quickly get to the highland; and smugglers to do some smuggling.
- There’s Nature – Ever heard of buffaloberry, Hithcock’s sedge or blue cohosh? They are among the rare plant species you’ll find along the trail. And sightings of deer, foxes and coyotes are regular.
- And Art – Fittingly for a trail named after an artist, you can look forward to finding a work of art at trail’s end. “Passage”, commissioned by the Friends of Doris McCarthy is by artist Marlene Hilton-Moore.
- And Buried Treasure – The legend is: during the U.S. attack on York (Toronto) during the War of 1812, soldiers stationed in the town buried their valuables in Gates Gully, through which the trail runs.
Before You Go
Unlike Warden Woods, the trail may not be suitable for anyone experiencing foot pain, improper foot function or any other walking issues. As with any hike or trail walk, make sure you have proper footwear and use your orthotics.
If you have questions about walking for exercise, or custom orthotics to help improve your walking mechanics, please visit our Scarborough clinic at 1920 Ellesmere Rd., Suite 205, or call us at 416-431-4000 for a no-charge initial consultation with one of our therapists or doctors.