Located a few blocks north of the crowded Beach, this quiet oasis feels like a real neighbourhood spot
The days are getting shorter, so don’t let summer pass by without enjoying the nice weather. A walk or hike will clear your head, provide exercise and boost your spirits during this difficult time. In this series, I explore some of the city’s parks and streets. This week: the intimate and elegant Glen Stewart Ravine, which snakes through a little neighbourhood in the Beach.
Like most people, I had never heard of Glen Stewart Ravine in the North Beach. I figured, if you’re that far east, the main attraction would be the shops along Queen and the beach itself. But as I climbed down the tidy wooden staircase from Kingston Road it felt like I was descending into some magical, tree-filled realm.
If you walk the Glen Stewart Ravine, you might miss the ancient red oaks.
Not very. Those stairs are pretty steep. And once you’re in the ravine itself, there’s a mix of terrain that includes a sandy surface. Further south, as the ravine becomes Glen Stewart Park, it’s easier to navigate, so you might want to join the ravine there instead to avoid the stairs. But keep in mind: the path is fairly narrow and twisty.
After every corner, there’s something different to see in Glen Stewart Ravine.
Around every corner was a different sight. On one stretch of trail, little acorns were strewn on the path. In another section, beyond an old-fashioned wooden fence, you could see and hear the burbling brook. Sometimes you could look up and glimpse the houses along Glen Manor. At other times there was nothing but foliage, or a dramatically felled tree or series of stumps.
The trail isn’t very long long – maybe 1.5 kilometers – but I walked for a half hour, slowly, in order to savour the views. And in that time I encountered a few dozen people, including young families, couples and singles walking leashed dogs. Most seemed like locals. Some children were playing in the creek. There’s one little sitting area about halfway through that offers a spectacular view of trees and plants. I made a mental note to return in the fall when the leaves are changing colour.
Majestic trees obscure grand homes in Ivan Forrest Garden.
South of the ravine is a small park, which is far less interesting but still popular, judging from the many people lounging about on the grass. And if you cross a street it leads to Ivan Forrest Gardens, a unique area that allows you to spy on the sloped backyards of some stately homes as well as take in majestic trees, a rock garden and a fountain. The city is currently asking for input about how to design it along Queen Street, where the trail essentially ends.
Emerging from the ravine and park feels like waking up from an enchanted dream. Now you can enjoy the shops and restaurants along Queen. Or you can walk down to the more crowded Beach and boardwalk. If you don’t want to spoil your memory of this intimate little walk, you can always retrace your steps and experience it again.