The 5.5-kilometre horseshoe trail starting at St. Clair and Yonge is an essential part of the city's ravine system
I’m coming to the Rosedale Ravine Trail late in this series because for the longest time I couldn’t figure out where and what it was. I kept thinking it was next to Rosedale Valley – you know, that picturesque route cars use to get to the Bayview Extension and hence the DVP. (Lungs full of car exhaust? No thank you.) Then I realized it actually starts near St. Clair and Yonge and takes you south and east, crosses the Brick Works and, if you like, turns back up north to Moore Park (via Mud Creek), making a sort of horseshoe route. It’s a gorgeous trail, and not too difficult.
I took the subway up to St. Clair Station then headed east (about five to 10 minutes) until I got to Avoca and the staircase leading down. To the left is a route north under the St. Clair Viaduct to get to Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Keep right and it takes you south, alongside the Yellow Creek, a tributary of the Don River. Much of the creek is reinforced at the top with rocks to prevent erosion. The trail itself is a fairly flat mix of gravel and dirt. It was raining slightly when I went, but the towering trees – among them pine, oak, and willow – provided some protection.
The stately trees in Rosedale Ravine provide protection from the sun and rain.
One of the nice things about this trail is there’s only one big obstacle: crossing Mount Pleasant, which depending on the time of day can be as busy as a highway. Once you’re past that, however, it’s a peaceful escape from the bustle of the city – until you get to the Bayview Extension and the Brick Works.
Although the trail itself is fairly flat, most of the entry points are by staircase. The most accessible areas are in and around the Brick Works, which has a parking lot and can be reached by two TTC buses, the Bayview 28 South from Davisville Station, or the shuttle from Broadview Station. (Update: as a commenter wrote, the shuttle isn’t active during the pandemic.)
The trail is wide enough to accommodate multi-use traffic – because of the time of day (and, I suppose, the rain), I encountered only a few walkers, joggers and cyclists. The soothing sounds of the creek, the impressive stands of old trees and the glimpses of luxurious homes overlooking the valley all add interest. There are signs warning of flash floods – with a few storm drains that look like they could be from Stephen King’s novel It.
This storm drain might make you think of Stephen King’s novel It.
There’s an off-leash dog area right before you get to the Evergreen Brick Works, and the Brick Works themselves offer a lot to do during non-pandemic times: a rink, various markets and tours. The ponds just beyond the Brick Works offer some of the most peaceful views, including a little area to spot turtles (I didn’t see any). And at the adjoining Chorley Park, I heard so much birdsong my head was spinning.
The ponds around the Evergreen Brick Works are stunning.
One note: it’s easy to get disoriented around the Brick Works. You can pick up the Lower Don Trail and head north to Crothers Woods and ET Seton Park, or south to Riverdale Park and Corktown Common. Or you can keep going north following Mud Creek to Moore Park, like I did. From here it’s not far to the Kay Gardner Beltline Trail, which will take you as farther west.
If I lived near Yonge and St. Clair, I would probably walk this 5.5 km trail regularly. It’s a key part of the city’s ravine system, and once you get oriented at the Brick Works leads to many other trails. Speaking of the Brick Works, I hope next time the washrooms are open. Let’s just say my walk to Moore Park – where there was an open washroom – was extra quick.