Visiting Rouge Park, Toronto and Pickering, Ontario: nature at the urban doorstep
A rural outlook prevails
Rouge Park, containing the Rouge River Valley, is classed as North America's largest urban park. Before visitors familiar with the Park say: 'Well, it doesn't look very urban to me', it needs to be said that the designation 'urban' belongs to the fact that Toronto's boundaries have gradually extended far beyond the core of the city and have joined with Pickering, in Ontario's Durham Region. Pickering, which in 2011 was celebrating its 200 years of existence as a community, is now officially a city, and, since Rouge Park is partly in Pickering, the official urban status of the Park was thus sealed.
Some of the roads within the Park have very steep gradient, including Twyn Rivers Drive. At the Twyn Rivers Drive entrance to the Park, the adjacent parking lot area has information panels regarding some of its natural features. Hundreds of plant and bird species have been identified in the Park.
The confluence of the Rouge and the Little Rouge rivers occurs in the Park, and the river flows into Lake Ontario at Rouge Beach. Interestingly, the Port Union area to the west of Rouge Beach used to be in Pickering many years ago. Pickering's economic and psychological 'pull' on the Port Union suburb of Scarborough can still be evidenced by the shorter distance between Port Union and the retail hub of the Pickering Town Centre than to the Scarborough Town Centre. Indeed, in Port Union, some local supermarkets stock free retail newspapers for Pickering in preference to those for Scarborough. So, while Port Union is separated from Pickering by Rouge Park, yet in some ways it relates psychologically to Pickering.
Important First Nations heritage is contained within Rouge Park: Bead Hill is a 17th century Seneca site situated in the Park, and has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada. The Rouge River was later used as a trail by Voyageurs and early European explorers. The name Rouge River (French: Rivière Rouge ) is derived from the red colour of the earth in the vicinity of the river, thus named by early, French-speaking travellers.
Glen Rouge Campground is the City of Toronto's only official campsite (the entrance to Glen Rouge Campground at 7450 Kingston Road, Toronto is the starting point for distances to places, named below .
Extensive marshland occurs near Rouge Beach, where the Rouge River enters Lake Ontario, and from where the Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail may be accessed.
Also worth seeing
Ajax (distance: 11.9 kilometres) Post Hill House is a 19th century heritage property in Rural Gothic Revival style.
How to get there: Air Canada, flies to Toronto Pearson Airport, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. (Distance from Toronto Pearson Airport to Glen Rouge Campground: approx. 42.4 kilometres). Access points to Rouge Park include, from Toronto, Twyn Rivers Drive at Sheppard Avenue; and from Pickering, the eastern section of Twyn Rivers Drive. GO Train operates a service between Union Station, Toronto and Rouge Hill or Pickering. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
Other of my hubpages may also be of interest
- Visiting Ontario's historic Erskine Church: memories of 19th century Pickering
- Visiting Pickering, Ontario and its barrier beach: waters and wildlife
- Visiting Ontario's Ajax: Rural Gothic Revival architecture, at Post Hill House
- Visiting Kipawa Lake, Laniel: boating and fishing opportunities in western Quebec
- Visiting the mountains of northern New Jersey: surprising, tranquil scenes