Adventures along the Humber River

The Humber River at sunset (Photo by Adam Hunter/NCC staff)

The Humber River at sunset (Photo by Adam Hunter/NCC staff)

September 24, 2018 | by Adam Hunter

Whenever I stay with my dad and step-mom in Toronto during the spring and summer, I often cycle and walk on the Humber River Recreational Trail near their house. As its name implies, the path goes along the Humber River, a Canadian Heritage River. Its waters originate on the Niagara Escarpment and the Oak Ridges Moraine, eventually flowing into Lake Ontario.

The trail starts at the intersection of Scarlett Road and Eglinton Avenue West in Toronto, continues for about nine kilometres and ends at the Toronto waterfront. It is used by pedestrians, cyclists, joggers and inline skaters.

James Gardens (Photo by Adam Hunter/NCC staff)

James Gardens (Photo by Adam Hunter/NCC staff)

Every time I bike or walk this trail, I feel like I’m no longer in the city. I am surrounded by nature, and even pass through densely forested areas and marshes at some points. The trail also goes through some parks and landmarks, including James Gardens, Étienne Brûlé Park and Old Mill subway station.

Goslings and their mother at James Gardens (Photo by Adam Hunter/NCC staff)

Goslings and their mother at James Gardens (Photo by Adam Hunter/NCC staff)

James Gardens boasts gorgeous, well-maintained gardens filled with vibrant flowers and small ponds. While biking through it this past summer, I saw an adorable group of goslings and their parents that immediately approached me when I stopped to look at them. On another occasion, I noticed a turtle swimming among in one of the ponds.

Étienne Brûlé Park (Photo by Adam Hunter/NCC thumb)

Étienne Brûlé Park (Photo by Adam Hunter/NCC thumb)

Étienne Brûlé Park consists of unobstructed views of the Humber River, fire pits, and a stone bridge that appeared in an episode of The Handmaid’s Tale. I usually see several bird species in the river here, including mallard, Canada goose and great blue heron. When I was a child, I even remember watching salmon swim upstream one autumn.  

Part of the trail also goes under the Old Mill subway station. The massive concrete pylons supporting the station are adorned in beautiful Indigenous artwork, which I often stop to admire.

This past summer, I had three exciting encounters with deer while cycling on the trail. On one of my trips, I was riding quickly to avoid getting caught in a thunderstorm. As I was riding, I noticed a female deer grazing on some vegetation. Even though I was in a rush, I had to stop to take some photos.

The deer I saw while rushing to avoid being caught in a thunderstorm (Photo by Adam Hunter/NCC staff)

The deer I saw while rushing to avoid being caught in a thunderstorm (Photo by Adam Hunter/NCC staff)

On another trip, I was near the end of the trail and the sun had just set. Suddenly, another cyclist asked me to stop. I thought she needed help, but she actually stopped me to point out two deer across the river. I quickly got off my bike and followed her to the spot where she saw them. Sure enough, a male and female were drinking from the river. This was actually my first time seeing a male deer in the wild, so I was grateful that she stopped me.

On my third encounter, two deer ran right in front of my bike and into the woods in broad daylight. That was the closest I had ever been to a deer.

The double rainbow I saw on one of my trail strolls (Photo by Adam Hunter/NCC staff)

The double rainbow I saw on one of my trail strolls (Photo by Adam Hunter/NCC staff)

This past summer, I decided to go for an evening stroll on the trail following a thunderstorm. It was lightly raining and the rays of the setting sun gave the clouds an orange hue. As I was walking, I was taken aback by the sudden formation of a double rainbow!

I’ve really enjoyed spending time on this trail over the past few years and would highly recommend it to Toronto locals and visitors. It’s an ideal way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in nature without having to venture too far.  

Experiences like these have strengthened my relationship with nature and my commitment to its protection. The Nature Conservancy of Canada has created more opportunities for Canadians to get outdoors and explore nature first-hand. Discover your own Nature Destination and get outside.

 

 

 

Adam Hunter (Photo courtesy of Adam Hunter)

About the Author

Adam Hunter is the editorial coordinator at the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

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