Adventures Close to Home: Fall Hike in High Park

High Park mapIn the fall, every bright, sunny day feels like a gift. And as October nears its end, I become acutely aware that each of those days may be the last one before the temperatures drop, before it rains, before the snow falls. Not that I don’t like rain or snow. I enjoy being outside in any weather. But sunny skies are always a cause for celebration. So yesterday I decided to take advantage of a glorious fall day and headed to High Park.

High Park is 399 acres of nature right in the middle of Toronto filled with large green spaces, hiking trails, picnic areas, sports facilities, Grenadier pond, numerous streams and waterfalls, a dog park, playgrounds and even a small zoo. That is why, High Park is often a destination of choice for people seeking a nature retreat amidst a busy city. It becomes particularly busy in the spring when people flock here in large numbers to see the famous cherry blossoms (To see pictures of High Park in the spring, check some of my posts on Random|Pix). Little as I like crowds, it is exciting to see people getting so excited about nature. In October, High Park looks different from its airy, boisterous, cherry-blossomed self but it is no less beautiful decked in its best fall attire.

High Park in the fall

Since this time I didn’t have kids with me, I decided to forgo the usual playgrounds-zoo route and explore some of the park’s hiking trails. High Park is, of course, no wilderness. I could still hear the traffic, especially every time I got close to large streets lining the park’s edges, and condo towers were clearly visible on the southern side of Grenadier Pond. But as I got off the beaten track and headed deeper into the park, the noise slowly subsided. Since it was still very early in the morning, the park was pretty empty except for a few joggers and dog walkers.

hiking trail in High Park   hiking trail in High Park in the fall

dog walker in High Park in the fall   hiking trail in High Park in the fall

High Park has some elevation changes so I got a bit of exercise scrambling up and down steps and hills, and skipping over streams and logs. And since I knew that regardless of which trail I took I would eventually get to the road, I could just follow any path I wanted without the fear of getting lost.

High Park in the fall   High Park in the fall

hiking trail in High Park in the fall   High Park in the fall

Part of my way lay along Grenadier Pond, a home to many different species of birds. I only came across mallard ducks in large numbers, a lot of them one-legged, heads under wings, still dreaming their wonderful duck dreams.

interpretive panels near Grenadier Pond in High Park

cattails   grasses

Grenadier Pond in High Park

mallard ducks in Grenadier Pond in High Park   mallard ducks in High Park

mallard ducks   mallard ducks in High Park

One of the ducks was different though. Back at home, I checked my bird guide and concluded that it was a redhead.

redhead duck

redhead duck

I then came across an unusual giant tree that turned out to be dawn redwood. It is the last known living species of Metasequoia, and is often called a living fossil. At one point, it was thought to be extinct until some remnants were discovered in China in 1941. Since then, I has been cultivated around the world in parks and botanical gardens but remains endangered in the wild thanks, of course, to human activities.

dawn redwood in High Park   dawn redwood in High Park

dawn redwood in High Park

At one point, I ended up near the Children’s Garden and Teaching Kitchen. Lots of fun eco programs for kids are offered here, including camps and birthday parties. Our son actually celebrated his 11th birthday here with a cooking party. It was a blast, not to mention delicious. I meandered through the garden. It was empty for the most part, except for some leftover kale and hot peppers, but it was easy to imagine all the bounty and goodness that children grow here in the warmer months.

Children's garden in High Park   Children's garden in High Park

Children's garden in High Park   Children's garden in High Park

Eventually, I found my way back to where I started. It was not a particularly thrilling or exotic hike but it was a great adventure close to home filled with glowing autumn foliage, the rustling of leaves under my feet and the earthy smell of fall. I should do more of those!

High Park in the fall

yellow maple leaves   red foliage in the fall

Children's garden in High Park     oak leaf

High Park in the fall

High Park in the fall   High Park in the fall

fallen leaves in the stream   willow branches reflected in Grenadier Pond in High Park

High Park in the fall   hiking trail in High Park in the fall

9 thoughts on “Adventures Close to Home: Fall Hike in High Park

  1. What a beautiful place and so many great photos! If you didn’t tell me where you were, I would’ve never guessed it! The sounds though, are very important, aren’t they? I have hiked a few trails the last few weeks that were similar soundwise, and it to me, is what really makes the peaceful part, peaceful! Being there, for me, was still better than not though, sounds like it’s the same for you? Guess we take what we can get!

    Thanks so much for showing me such a pretty place! Happy Hiking!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I agree that sounds of the city often get in the way. But since it’s not always possible to get out of the city, these beautiful spaces in the city are the next best thing. Plus I feel like I often overlook places that are close by so I’d like to spend more time exploring nature spots around Toronto.
      Thank you for stopping by and commenting! Happy hiking to you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It is so much harder to get out as the number of daylight hours dwindles. These short days are precious. It’s great that you were able to get out. I find that no matter how close to home a hike is, I’m rarely disappointed that I went. Have you tried the Healthy Hikes Challenge? It’s a contest that runs from the beginning of May to the end of October. I tend to use it as an excuse to do some hiking in the fall. You can win some prizes, but the true prize is just being in nature often.

    Thanks for sharing your adventure. You have again captured some great images.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is so true. Even short time in nature no matter how close or far can do wonders! We still have some time before winter comes to squeeze in a few great hikes. But then winter will bring a lot of great activities of its own.
      Thank you for the information about Healthy Hikes Challenge. I will look into it and maybe join next year 🙂

      Like

  3. I’m glad you got to enjoy such a beautiful park on a sunny day. How wonderful that city people have this area to escape to. I’m not a fan of noisy crowded places but like you I feel happy to see children enjoying nature with their parents. The colours of autumn are truly gorgeous. Stunning shots as always. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your kind words! Yes, I agree that green spaces in cities are important. Since we are now predominantly urban dwellers, we need access to places like High Park where we can relax and connect with nature. And fall is a wonderful time to get out.

      Liked by 1 person

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