Exploring Crothers Woods

A path through the field. Almost enough to make you forget that you're in the city.

A path through the field. Almost enough to make you forget that you’re in the city.

This week the City of Toronto has seen a string of seasonally usual high temperatures. It’s been a wonderful reprieve from the expect frost and rain. Summer in November! The only thing that’s put a damper on such wonderful weather is the early sunsets, inconveniently brought to you by daylight savings. I was fortunate enough to have a few hours to spare the other day and managed to grab my camera and hiking shoes for a couple of hours of R&R on the urban trails of Crothers Woods.

A small pond by Don River.

A small pond by Don River.

The Don river. A tire needlessly pierces with rivers surface.

The Don river. A tire needlessly pierces with rivers surface.

The mountain bike terrain park, located on the banks of the Don River.

The mountain bike terrain park, located on the banks of the Don River.

Crothers Woods has for much of it’s existence been the place where few ventured, it was used as a dumping ground of industry. It’s been forgotten and undeveloped, a place where it was not uncommon to find abandoned cars. Nestled in the valley carved out by the Don river, yet another former dumping ground form Toronto’s industrial past. The Woods were a secret hiding in plain sight. I’ve not been out to the Woods in about two years and I felt that it was time to go out for a visit. Crothers Woods is the type of place where you can almost forget that you’re still in the heart of the city, until your focus is broken by the dull rumbling of trucks on the Don Valley Parkway just a few hundred meters to the east. A lot of work has been done restoring Crothers Woods and the Don Valley from it’s former industrial use to a natural environment, and much more is to be done. There are points where you can almost get lost in walking by the river, forgetting that you’re still in the city… Until you’re rudely reminded of the city by submerged shopping cart or car tire piercing the waters surface. 

This place is for the birds.

This place is for the birds.

A mushroom poking through the grass.

Ducks on the Don river.

Ducks on the Don river.

A cormorant resting on the river.

A cormorant resting on the river.

Ugly reminders of human impact.

Ugly reminders of human impact.

The Bloor viaduct towering over the river valley.

The Bloor viaduct towering over the river valley.

Fall is in full swing in the Don Valley, the colours are vibrant and the sounds of rustling leafs fill the air. Numerous mountain bike trails are strung about the ravine walls, created numerous avenues to explore and sight see. Black squirrels rummage about the fallen leafs, creating havoc and disturbing the few noise free moments. The memories of the industrial past are painfully evident, the large mound of broken rebar reinforced concrete on the eastern shore of thbe Don river being the least subtle culprit. The river looks peaceful in it’s meander down the valley to the lake, ducks congregate in small grounds on sandbars and an occasional cormorants sits perched on a fallen branch. Sadly those views were compliments by tree branches covered in washed-up plastics.

The view towards the Bloor viaduct.

The view towards the Bloor viaduct.

This fella fallowed me around.

This fella fallowed me around.

One of my favourite views from the trail.

One of my favourite views from the trail.

The Crothers woods and the Don Valley were peaceful, idyllic and regretful. Nature has begun to reclaim some of what it has been lost but the human impact on this land remains like an ugly scar. On this hike I ran into another raccoon, this week seems to be a week for them. Sadly it appeared that this little fellow might have had Canine Distemper Virus, a disease that is affecting a large part of the Toronto raccoon population. More picture from the Crothers Woods can be found here.

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12 thoughts on “Exploring Crothers Woods

  1. A nice meditational piece about the need for green spaces in our larger cities and suburban areas, and the ways we not only abuse the land we live on but also, with some work, can allow needed wildness to return. I’ve never seen the Don River Valley but recall reading of it in Seton’s “Wild Animals I Have Known” when I was a kid.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for checking out my post. I do think more green space is needed in large urban setting. Toronto fortunately has about 13% of its land dedicated to green space. But the bigger question is what type of green space? In my opinion too much is dedicated to manicured lawns and not enough is allowed to remain in a natural space. I think much of that has to do with our own perception of beauty.

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  2. A lovely nature post. I enjoyed your beautiful images and words. It was sad to see the picture of human impact – the rubbish in the trees. Fortunately there is still much beauty in the world. The raccoon picture is gorgeous.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Another Toronto gem! Have to check it out sometime. It is sad to see how destructive people can be. On Saturday we visited Scarborough Bluffs and it was upsetting to see the amount of garbage on one of the hills. But Crothers Woods is also a proof that we can put our power to good use and work on restoring natural spaces. It would be great to see more of those attempts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bluffs are both beautiful and disappointing when it it ocean to the human impact. The things that draws me to Crothers Woods is the lack of manicured grass and trees. I find too many parks in this city are too dolled up.

      Liked by 1 person

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