Pandemic walk: Glen Stewart Ravine

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.

Start: Saturday, 2:25 pm, northern entrance at Kingston and Malvern

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.

Glenn Sumi

If you walk the Glen Stewart Ravine, you might miss the ancient red oaks.

How accessible is it?

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.

Glenn Sumi

After every corner, there’s something different to see in Glen Stewart Ravine.

What you can see, and who’s there

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.

Glenn Sumi

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.

End: 2:52 pm, Queen East and Glen Manor

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.

See more Pandemic Walks here and here.

@glennsumi

Comments (3)

  • Terry and Eleanor O'Connor August 31, 2020 09:50 PM

    The walk is slightly longer if you enter off Beech Avenue.
    Glad you enjoyed.
    More walks further north.

  • Ilan Muskat September 1, 2020 10:45 AM

    Thanks for sharing your take on this quiet local wonderland, Glenn. Two quick thoughts: first, that just east of the Kingston Road entrance, you’ll find the lovely Kingston Road Village, which is blooming with a bunch of new food and coffee places among some longer-established ones; so whether you take the walk north or south, you’ll find a nice spot to relax at the end.

    Second: Ivan Forrest Gardens is a lovely neighbourhood spot, which sometimes can cause some, shall we say, “neighbourhood feelings”; remember that children playing are sometimes just children playing, and don’t necessarily be too quick to jump to your cellphone. See related article here: https://www.beachmetro.com/2020/08/25/community-rallies-against-racism-after-911-call-made-about-black-child-playing-with-toy-gun-in-ivan-forrest-gardens-park/

  • M Howard February 11, 2021 10:58 PM

    Work has been suggested for the southern portion of this rare gem, partially by BIA and other input and possibly including paving, seating, and pop-up tents. Public meeting February 17th, 2021 (Info at City of Toronto/Toronto.ca – Ivan Forrest Gardens streetscape improvements).

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