A Trip to Scarborough Bluffs

It is a beautiful November afternoon. We are on our way to Scarborough Bluffs, one of Toronto’s famous natural attractions that I have heard so much about but never got time to visit. As we drive through the east end, my friend and I listen to Queen and talk about our cell phone obsessed culture and Toronto’s diverse neighbourhoods. My son falls asleep in the back seat.  It is a long drive. Sometimes it feels we are in a different city altogether.

We finally turn onto Brimley Road South. It winds its way downhill through the fall-coloured parkland, half of the trees already spot bare branches. We round another turn, and the blue waters of Lake Ontario come into view. I can hear my friend gasp next to me. I must admit that even though I knew the lake was coming at the bottom of the road, this inundation of open space and water is startling.

After a quick snack of spanakopita and our balcony-grown tomatoes, we head towards the Bluffs. We can see them looming up ahead. They remind me  of giant sand castles complete with towers and turrets.

After a short walk along some hidden trails and one particularly muddy road, we find ourselves on a small beach, sheer surface of the Bluffs on our right, vast expanse of Lake Ontario on the left. With the swish-swash of the waves and a salty smell in the air, it’s hard to believe we are still in Toronto. Something about this landscape reminds me of the coast of Great Britain or, at least, the image that lives in my head since I’ve never been there. (Interestingly enough when I started researching Scarborough Bluffs for this post, I learned that the Bluffs were named after Scarborough in North Yorkshire by Elizabeth Simcoe, the wife of John Graves Simcoe, the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, because they reminded her of the limestone cliffs located in that part of England.)

Sun makes an occasional appearance through the cracks in massive clouds ferried across the sky. At one point, the sky turns an ominous shade of dark blue. It creates opportunities for some dramatic shots, but results in nothing more than a short drizzle. As we try to decide what to do, the rain stops so we continue with our walk. We marvel at the steep wall of pressed sand wondering how it all holds together.

While this landscape looks so un-Toronto-like, traces of civilization are everywhere: a crumbling water pipe sticking out in the middle of the Bluffs, large chunks of concrete in Lake Ontario, an old rusty bicycle propped up against the sandy wall.

Eventually we retrace our steps back to the parking lot. My son chooses to walk through the muddiest parts of the road innocently claiming that he didn’t realize how fresh the mud was. By the time we reach the car, most of his pants and shoes are covered in splotches of grey sludge. We laugh at his mostly unsuccessful attempts to scrape off some of the mud, which include crawling on all fours, and conclude that this development significantly limits our choice of eating places later.

We drive back to the top of the Bluffs. There is a railing running along the edge but no one seems to take it seriously, maybe because you can’t really see much from behind it. In spite of numerous warnings about the danger of falling, we see lots of people trying to ‘outselfie’ each other right at the brink of the Bluffs.

We stand quietly for a while taking in the view. There are sandy castles extending both ways. The lake and sky, separated by a thin strip of light, are a study in different shades of blue and seem to go on forever. CN Tower is nowhere to be seen. I have to remind myself again that I am still in Toronto.

Scarborough Bluffs in Toronto on a fall day

Scarborough Bluffs in Toronto on a fall day   Scarborough Bluffs in Toronto on a fall day

Scarborough Bluffs in Toronto on a fall day   Scarborough Bluffs in Toronto

Scarborough Bluffs in Toronto

dramatic clouds over Lake Ontario

dramatic clouds over Lake Ontario and Scarborough Bluffs

Scarborough Bluffs in Toronto

old rusty bike

dramatic clouds over Lake Ontario

Scarborough Bluffs in Toronto

Scarborough Bluffs in Toronto Bluffer's Park

Scarborough Bluffs Park

view from the top of Scarborough Bluffs in Toronto

view from Scarborough Bluffs in Toronto   view from Scarborough Bluffs in Toronto

Lake Ontario from the top of Scarborough Bluffs   Lake Ontario from the top of Scarborough Bluffs

Lake Ontario from the top of Scarborough Bluffs

General Information

Scarborough Bluffs are located in the east part of Toronto and span 15 kilometres along the shoreline of Lake Ontario from the Eastern Beaches in the west to East Point Park in the east. At their highest point, the Bluffs rise 90 metres above the coastline. There are several parks where you can enjoy this incredible geological feature. We visited Bluffer’s Park that provides access to the base of the Bluffs and Scarborough Bluffs Park for views from the top. For more information about Scarborough Bluffs and the parks, visit the City of Toronto website.

22 thoughts on “A Trip to Scarborough Bluffs

  1. First off fantastic shots, the play of light and clouds is lovely. I’ve grown up not too far from the Bluffs, When I was a kid I used to take the bus and then walk all the way down the hill with a friend to go carp fishing in the ponds on the east side of the park for carp and also fish for Salmon in the Marina. The human impact on the area is disappointing to see, like the rusted out bike. But on the bright side the ponds have improved for the mud holes of my childhood to thriving green spaces.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! We have lived in the west end ever since we moved to Canada so I haven’t seen much of Scarborough. I was impressed with the Bluffs but you are right seeing all those signs of negative human impact is disappointing. I can never understand why people leave their garbage behind. But then, of course, it’s part of a much broader issue – we produce too much garbage in general.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Like other commenters, I loved the stormy dark skies. Your shots are always stunning though and I enjoyed your excellent narrative. I had to laugh at your son’s muddy experience. One of my sons was always a mud magnet but it was always “accidentally” done of course. 😉 The sandy castles are very interesting too. I know the old bike was rubbish but I like the shot of its rusting skeleton. Another beautiful post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jane! I did feel lucky with those clouds. The pictures wouldn’t have been the same without them. It’s funny how all that dirt and mud is always accidental. But my grandma used to say that kids are supposed to get muddy and dirty because it means they are exploring and having fun. And she had to wash everything by hand. So I think we can survive a bit of mud when all we have to do is throw dirty clothes into the washing machine.
      I agree about the bike. I hate it when people leave their garbage but that bike looked weirdly poetic so out of place and yet almost part of the landscape.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post as usual! I love the pictures. They are stunning! We all love the sunshine but the best photographs seem to come from the less appreciated types of weather! I have been here once before but it was very long ago. I may have to revisit after reading your post! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fabulous pictures! I love the Bluffs and live close in the Beach area. That hill you drove down is actually our marathon hill trainer, it’s not very fun have to be honest but the view going back down kinda makes up for it. Definitely a Toronto Wonder!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, these photos are AMAZING!!!!! Parts of the bluffs look like the eroded drumlins I saw on the southern shore of Lake Ontario at Chimney Bluffs State Park (NY) this summer. Your bluffs and your photos are much more beautiful however.

    Liked by 1 person

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