Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Rattray Marsh, Jack Darling Park, Lake Ontario, Toronto Views and a Great Waterfront and Canada Trail Walk

Update June 28 2010: On a walk today through to Rattray Marsh, we noticed two food vendors near the main building in Jack Darling Park, and that the splash pad is open. Construction of the water treatment plant will continue for about 2 more years.

Easter weekend's good weather (though a bit chilly) begged me to go for a walk along the Waterfront Trail to Rattray Marsh from Jack Darling Park along the lake -- Lake Ontario. Clear conditions made for fabulous views of Toronto and the CN Tower.
Just near this spot on the lakeshore, the wind-whipped waves were washing ashore two wooden paddles, in mint condition. Another walker was timing the waves to try to salvage them. Seeing these oars cast adrift prompted my companion to wonder if we should be concerned that perhaps some hapless boaters were stranded. Let's hope not, as we didn't pursue this.

Jack Darling Park has a number of good spots to have a picnic, like this one on a small point of land that juts out from the shore, with fabulous views of Toronto. The CN Tower is the sharp pointy thing. A new water treatment facility, another 2 years or so from completion, is making a mess of the entrance and west side of Jack Darling park, and chewing up parking spaces and play areas, as well as a long section of Waterfront Trail.

The new trail section, though, is graded level, and looks ready for paving as soon as weather permits. Where Jack Darling meets Rattray Marsh, there's a small playground and what appears to be future parking. I certainly hope so, as this would alleviate some of the parking issues and traffic at Jack Darling.

The view in the picture above is looking west, towards Hamilton. (See how this scene looked in January, and a map of the area.) This is very near the spot where wooden stairs lead to Rattray Marsh trail, blocking bike access. Posted signs say this section of the trail is closed until May 2009. Though these signs have been up since last fall, and the trail access closed with wire and plastic fencing, visitors have worn a new path, and stepped over fallen sections of fence to continue the trail walk.

Into Rattray Marsh, with the songs of red wing blackbirds and robins, and a few seagulls providing a song track with the breezes. How still and lovely this spot is, and how lucky we are to have the Credit Valley Conservation Area to manage this wonderful resource. Near one of the bridges that cross the small creek that feeds into the marsh, we could see fish jumping near the banks. The Waterfront Trail and Canada Trail are one and the same through the marsh.
Three mallards were bathing and preening on the small pond. I had come to this area to see if there was any sign yet of the trilliums (Ontario's provincial flower) that blanket the hillside near this spot. All I could see were the first spikes of shoots that promised a good flower show in a few week's time. None of the small violets were up; not even any sign of leaves.

Sign of the Times: So many cautions and warnings! It seems to me that our governing bodies assume we Canadians don't have the sense God gave gravel, and need to be micro-managed at all times. Perhaps it's only the CYA legal implications. In any event, the bottom line is don't go swimming or wading in the water.

The best part of this area, to me, is that I live a few minute's walk from these wonderful parks and lakeshore. The best times to walk are on weekdays, as the weekends can draw visitors from further afield. But no matter! There's plenty of room for all.

Related Walking Trails at Lake Aquitane and Culham Trail

Video of Jack Darling Beach and Rattray Marsh.

More information Waterfront Trail and Trans Canada Trail.