E-Notes - August 2020
Hello Bruce Trail friends. This issue of the newsletter informs you about the expansion of our hiking program as our Province moves into Phase 3. David Royle, our hiking director, has laid out a detailed description of what a safe hiking program consists of. Please take time to read it in its entirety, and let us know if you have further questions or concerns.
Also in this issue, Wayne takes you on some of the routes he explored right here in the city - hikes you can do on your own or with members of your bubble.
Happy August, Everyone!
COVID-19: Return to the Hiking Program Plan
This has been, and continues to be, a challenging and unprecedented time for the Toronto Bruce Trail Club. Our highest priority is to ensure the safety and well-being of all our volunteers and hiking community.
As of July 17th, many places in Ontario are moving to Stage 3 with the remainder of the Province expected to follow accordingly. The following is an excerpt from the official framework.
Based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and public health experts, gathering limits for regions in Stage 3 will increase. The gathering limit of 10 people indoors or outdoors will continue to apply for regions in Stage 2 until they enter Stage 3. Social circles should continue to be kept at 10 people province-wide, regardless of stage.
As of Saturday, September 12th, the Toronto Bruce Trail Club will increase the upper limit restriction on hikes from 10 to 30 participants for those areas in Stage 3. The banner on each registration will be:
COVID-19: ALL HIKES ARE MANDATORY PRE-REGISTER,
LIMIT ALL HIKES 30 PERSONS
The hiking program will continue to be restricted to members only. This will show loyalty to our members and encourage people to renew or join.
Overnight hiking trips are not permitted.
There will be no car shuttles on hikes – all hikes must be out and back or loop hikes.
Bus hikes are not provided at this time.
Personal Protective Equipment:
- Hikers and Hike Leaders may choose to wear face masks
- Hike Leaders and Hikers can carry hand sanitizer, but should not be sharing it with the group.
Health and Covid-19 symptoms:
- Each hiker must perform a self-screening check before hiking https://covid-19.ontario.ca/selfassessment/#q0 .
- Hikers and Hike Leaders are to follow the protocols laid out on the TBTC website for safe hiking
- Hikers who may come down with Covid-19 symptoms following a hike, must inform Public Health. Public Health will be responsible for contact tracing.
Waivers and Registration:
- Registration for all TBTC hikes will continue to be by Pre-registration Online using the TBTC Website
- A new system has been developed for online waivers to be completed upon registration.
- Registration is limited and those hikers who are not registered will be turned away from the hike.
Safety Talk for Hike Leaders
At the beginning of any organized hike, hike leaders will continue to perform the following safety talk to inform the participants of the protocol for COVID 19.
Hike leaders and hikers are aware of the symptoms of COVID-19. If any participants show the following signs, hike leaders will ask them not to participate:
In the pre-hike talk, hike leaders will continue to cover the following items:
- Shortness of breath / Breathing difficulties
- Runny nose
The Toronto Bruce Trail Club has a proud history and is part of the nine sections of the Bruce Trail, the oldest long distance marked footpath in Canada. During the changes required during the pandemic, the ethos at the heart of our Club has remained the same – we embrace our role in responsible stewardship of the Bruce Trail, the lands in our care, and the organization’s resources, for the benefit of all including future generations.
- Remind people not to share anything including bug repellant, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, water etc.
- Remind hikers to bring their own first aid kits.
- Inform people to keep a distance of at least 2 arms lengths (approximately 2 metres) from others, as much as possible.
- Ensure people move aside to allow others to pass.
- Pack out everything you bring on your hike. Garbage cans will not be available.
- Inform participants that masks are optional.
David Royle, Hiking Director, Toronto Bruce Trail Club
Exploring the southern Don Watershed
One of the nice things about living in Toronto is the preservation of so much of our ravine system as public space. A walker can, with a little planning, cover kms of trail from east to west and north to south in the corridors created by the rivers and creeks that cross the city and the GTA. A couple of the connected routes are described below.
Yonge and Lawrence to Victoria Park Avenue
One of my favourites is the system of trails defined by the Don River and its tributaries, particularly The West Don and Taylor Creek. There are multiple entry points for the system, some with public parking and generally accessible by transit (though you might have to walk a few blocks to find the trail head).
We’ll do this systematically to help you navigate the various options.
The west to east route (or vice versa) runs from Yonge Street in a south easterly direction for about 13.5 km to Victoria Park. There are two main access points. You can start at the Lawrence Subway Station on Yonge and follow the paths through Lawrence Park, Blythwood Ravine Park and Sherwood Park which will take you to Bayview Ave about midway between Sunnybrook Hospital and CNIB. The trail into Sunnybrook Park at this point is not maintained and it is recommended that you follow Bayview north to Sunnybrook Hospital and work your way into that Park via the hospital grounds.
An alternative starting point is at Bayview and Lawrence at the gates of Glendon College, York University. You can walk through the campus and then using the stairs behind Glendon Hall, descend to the valley of the Don West through the Glendon Forest. There is a well-maintained path that runs south easterly toward Sunnybrook Park.
At Sunnybrook the two routes meet and you will be following the main path east and a little bit south through a series of parks that will take you all the way to Victoria Park Avenue. The official path is a paved multi-use way, some of which has motorized traffic. Please be mindful of the cyclists who use this route extensively. You can, if you are a little adventurous, follow the earth paths that run a little closer to the Don West to avoid the traffic. They always come back to the main track. But please use caution as the banks can be undercut when there is high water.
To navigate this route stay in Sunnybrook Park (there are branches into Wilket Creek and Serena Gundy Parks which can be explored on their own) until you reach E.T. Seton Park which will take you eastward to where the Don West flows into the main Don River, near Don Mills Road and the Don Valley Parkway. A series of bridges and tunnels will take you to the east side of the road system and the Don River.
From here you follow Taylor Creek Park eastward through a pleasant stream valley. I recommend the path on the north side of the stream; it is unpaved and there are fewer cyclists. You’ll pass beneath O’Connor Drive and Dawes Road on the way to Victoria Park Avenue. There are stairs at the end point to take you back to the roadway about 500 metres from Victoria Park Subway Station.
Castle Frank to E.T. Seton Park
Another option is to use the Lower Don Valley Trail to explore some of the interesting conservation areas along the River.
A route I have taken several times begins at the Castle Frank Subway Station. Follow Castle Frank Road to Craigleith Gardens Park. Just outside the north western boundary of the park the Milk Run path will lead you down into the valley of the Don River. Follow the main path to your right and it will take you to the Don Valley Brickworks. Cross Bayview Avenue at the traffic lights at the entrance to the Brickwork’s parking lot. Follow the bike path northward along Bayview until you reach Pottery Road. You can choose to follow the main path northward on the east side of the Don River, it will connect with the trails running east and west that will take you to Victoria Park Avenue or Sunnybrook Park and the Yonge Subway.
If you want to do some exploring in lesser known paths don’t cross the Don River at Pottery Road. Cross that street and look for the signage for Crothers Woods Conservation area. That path will take you north to a circular path that runs around and through Crothers Woods with nice views of the Don River below. There are strategically placed interpretive boards with maps showing your location. You can cross the Don on a footbridge to the west side of the river. At this point the Cottonwood Flats Conservation Area is on your right. Take a half hour to explore this very pleasant park, the circuit pathway will bring you to a parking area just off the bridge you crossed. A path from the parking area connects with the main Lower Don Recreation Trail, turn left and you will be heading northward again to connect with the east west route described above at Don Mills Road and the Don Valley Parkway. Keep an eye out for the Elevated Wetlands, you’ll know you’ve arrived when you see these gigantic planters.
The routes aren’t as complicated as they seem at first glance. You can trace the paths on Google Maps. Walk with a buddy with a sense of direction. You are in the middle of the city and transit is within a 15 minute walk of most points along them.
Have fun and please share your own favourite walking routes with us and we’ll feature them in the next issue of E-Notes.