Who’s up for a nature hike?

I’ll be honest, rarely my kids. Now that they’re older, there seems to be more resistance to mom’s ideas, especially when it comes to going on a family hike.

So on a super sunny winter weekend, I zipped east for a walk with a fellow Mom in T.O. to check out the Doris McCarthy Trail, a 10 km trail that runs through Bellamy Ravine to Lake Ontario and along the beautiful Bluffs.

The trail begins in Scarborough near Kingston Rd and McCowan Rd. along Ravine Dr. It’s a 900m mildly steep but walk-able descent to Lake Ontario. We did about 8km round trip, turning back at the bottom of Guild Park, but you could head further along the shore or turn around sooner, depending the legs in TOw and what you see.

And there is a lot to see:

  • Ravine and creek
  • Art commemorating a local artist
  • Views of the Bluffs
  • Worn down bricks washed on shore
  • Shipwreck poking out of Lake Ontario

The trail is named for the artist Doris McCarthy (1910-2010), a renowned Canadian landscape painter, who used to live up top and owned the piece of land she named ‘Fool’s Paradise’ that runs from Kingston Road to the Lake.  (She donated her 12-acre property to the Ontario Heritage Trust and the lands in the ravine to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority for conservation and access purposes.) There is a large artwork at the foot of the path down by artist Marlene Hilton Moore in honour of Doris McCarthy. The structure, titled Passage, is pretty spectacular, resembling the ribs of a whale or a canoe and greeting you as the ravine trail spills onto the shores.

The ravine is also known as Gates Gully, after a pioneer Jonathan Gates settled in the area in 1815 and operated the Gates Tavern on Kingston Road, just east of Bellamy Road. (Over the years it has been home to natives, smugglers, soldiers and rebels.) Then and now, it’s one of the few places you can access the Bluffs.

Although I didn’t see it, there is the remains of the Alexandria, a ship which sank at the Bluffs in August 1915 en route from Montreal carrying a small crew and 300 tons of sugar, beans, vinegar and tomatoes. This video shows where it’s located.

I’m pretty sure we’ll be back with kids in TOw to spot that shipwreck!


Getting there: The trailhead is located south of Kingston Rd, on Ravine Dr.

Low-down: A quiet walk along a creek and Lake Ontario with views of the Bluffs. It’s bumpy but a stroller could do the trek. If kids love walking along the beach, picking rocks and skipping stones, they will not be disappointed. No sand beach, mostly rocks off the trail. The hike back up is a great workout.

Potty & snack break: No public washrooms; bring your own snacks

In the hood: Bluffer’s Beach is a five-minute drive west.