Top 5: Wilderness Escapes in Toronto

This past weekend, I was feeling very restless and decided that I needed a good dose of fresh air, in the form of FRESH air (not the busy street smoggy stinky downtown Toronto air).

My fiancee was also feeling this same restlesness, but also, his finger was itching to try out a few new ‘gagdets’ he purchased for his Nikon D800. He is the ultimate wildlife photographer, so he busily searched for places near to us where I could take my meds consisting of fresh, nature filled air (umm, I am not sure what that is…), and he could satisfy his trigger finger (FOR HIS CAMERA).

We discovered Leslie Spit, which was exactly 15 minutes away from my condo. I could not believe it. There we were, standing in nature, yet able to see the city skyline right behind us. It was perfect.

The investigation is going to continue as I list the top 5 ‘wilderness’ escapes in and around the city of Toronto.

5. Lynde Shores Conservation Area – Probably about a 45 minute drive to find this nature retreat, but worth it to hike around a swampy scene filled with deer, birds and beaver!

4. Colonel Sam Smith Park – Can’t wait to check out this park. Probably a 25 minute drive from my condo, I could be there, exploring the trails along the Toronto waterfront. It would especially be neat to find the beaver and snakes to photograph.

3. High Park – This park is surrounded by the Gardiner Expressway to the south, Bloor Street to the north, and subdivisions on either side. I completed a 5K race here a few years ago, and marvelled at all the green around me, while dragging my feet up and down some tough hills.

2. Rouge Park – I haven’t been here yet, but I have heard so many wonderful things about this area, that it could quite possibly beat out Leslie Spit for the #1 spot.

Right next to the Toronto Zoo, it boasts many birds, deer, plant and reptiles, some that are endangered and rare. Can’t wait to go!

1. Leslie Spit/Tommy Thompson Park – it had to be #1, since I have been here. It’s home to  countless species of birds, mink, beaver, fox, coyote and owl – oh and muscrat, which we ran into accidentally on our hike.

This semi-man-made spit became quite a wonderful ‘accidental’ wilderness right in the heart of Toronto.

Further Reading:

Toronto Wildlife: Where to Find Wildlife and Birds in Toronto

Quote for a Sunday – Nature

Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left.

Aldo Leopold

Grand Teton National Park

Quote for a Sunday – Photography

“Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.”

– Imogen Cunningham

July 2011 - Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park

More photography quotes.

Photo of the Day – River Otter

Trout Lake, Yellowstone. The elusive river otter finally showed it’s face when I was there last summer, and he brought some friends! I camped out a few days to try to catch a glimpse of the now rare river otter attempting a comeback in Trout Lake.

Then on the last day of my attempt to find them, this little guy popped his head out of the water to say hello (or goodbye?).

What better backdrop could I have for this?

 

Photo of the Day – Mr. Pronghorn hates tourists.

This little guy, Mr. Pronghorn, was discovered in Custer State Park, South Dakota on the final leg of my summer adventure this year. He was watching all the tourists from across the road play with the donkeys, and shaking his head at them in disgust as they fed them popcorn and chips.

The Unsung Alberta Park

When people think of Alberta parks, they often list Banff and Jasper, in that order. Maybe Waterton, but it is sort of unsung in its own right.

Source

It’s not often that people recommend an area called Kananaskis, which is not at all far from Banff – a half an hour SE of Canmore. But after two summers of visiting Alberta parks, I must say that my favorite (so hard to choose) is Kananaskis.

For starters, K-Country, as it is known, is not the tourist trap that you encounter when you arrive in Banff and it has a unique, almost spooky feel to it when you drive over Highwood Pass, through the looming mountains.

In the winter, this place is great for skiing and people invade one of this large land-use area’s provincial parks – staying at the Delta Ski Resort (which once housed both 1988 Calgary Olympic events and a G8 summit) and head out on Mount Nakiska. I have only been in the summer, of course, for bear watching!

Kananaskis is fantastic for biking. There is an extensive cycle trail set up that covers much of the front-country wilderness, showcasing its numerous, beautiful campsites in the process. Watch out for chipmunks!

That all said, what makes Kananaskis truly special for me is the mountain range that just seems so eerie and peaceful at night. When I was staying at the Interlakes camp site, between Upper and Lower Lakes (absolutely gorgeous!), my favorite time of day was dusk. So quiet, so few people: just the smooth, calm lake and the sound of the loon….oh so very Canadian 🙂