Pandemic walk: Scarborough Hydro Corridor

Think of greenery in Toronto’s east end and the Bluffs or the massive Rouge National Park probably come to mind. I have yet to tackle the latter – the sheer size of it would require a couple of days, and some major supplies. But something else to consider is this two-and-a-half kilometre, fully paved trail in the middle of Scarborough. It recently made NOW’s list of the Top 20 walks to take in Toronto.

Start: 3:40 pm, Wednesday, Ellesmere and Scarborough Golf Club

If you’re unfamiliar with Scarborough, this diagonal trek running east-west through the city’s major hydro corridor could be difficult to find. (I grew up nearby, and often used it as a shortcut.) The easternmost starting point (just south of Ellesmere) can be reached via any Ellesmere bus (those buses can be accessed from York Mills subway station). You can also take the Scarborough LRT system and get off at Ellesmere or Midland stations and transfer, but you’ll have to walk at least five minutes to get to Ellesmere – yes, even from Ellesmere Station, which I did (don’t ask – I hate the TTC).

Photo by Glenn Sumi

The Hydro Corridor gets its name from the underutilized “wasted” space beneath Scarborough’s hydro towers. It’s a key part in the massive project known as The Meadoway, which will eventually become a 16-kilometre trail connecting the Rouge with the East Don Trail system. The Don, of course, can also get you to downtown.

How accessible is it?

The good news is that the path itself is fully-paved and gently sloped. Plus, it’s wide enough to have two bike lanes – divided by the requisite blue stripe. Wheelchair users or those with mobility issues could easily do part or all of the trail. The bad news is that, until you get to the westernmost part, Thomson Memorial Park, there’s no place to park or for a car to drop you off. You could ask a north-south bus (on Markham, Bellamy or McCowan) to let you off near the trail. But then again, Scarborough is inconvenient if you’re not on four wheels. If you do the whole path, you’ll have to cross the main streets I mention above; some, like Markham, have very heavy traffic. Also: good luck finding a place to pee. The whole area is exposed.

Photo by Glenn Sumi

What can you see?

The corridor doesn’t look like much now. Most of the area around the trail consists of dead turf grass labelled with signs about the meadow restoration, warning it’s a “no mow” area. During one solitary stretch, I imagined myself in an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s bleak novel The Road. (Tip: make sure you bring some sunblock, because there’s very little shade on the path.) Eventually, when it’s a true habitat for plants, pollinators and wildlife, it will be stunning. The Daventry Gardens – between Markham and Bellamy – is a community garden that should provide lots of colour during the summer. And the end of the trail, at Thomson Memorial Park, has tennis courts, a Japanese-style pond, an extensive off-leash dog park and the quaint Scarborough Museum, where you can take your picture next to a log cabin.

Photo by Glenn Sumi

Who will you encounter?

I went on a weekday afternoon in early spring, so I didn’t see many other pedestrians. There were a couple of people pushing strollers, some elderly couples and a few joggers. With Scarborough COVID-19 numbers currently high, the corridor could become more popular this summer. There were also a few cyclists, which is understandable, because Scarborough is notoriously difficult to navigate by bike.

End: 4:30 pm, Thomson Memorial Park (Lawrence and Brimley)

Since this area of Scarborough isn’t the most visually interesting, this neat, nicely-maintained corridor provides a quick escape from the suburban monotony. After the trip, I looked up some culinary spots along Lawrence, recommended by NOW’s Radheyan Simonpillai and guest contributor Suresh Doss (see Bendale section). So treat yourself after this walk.

See more Pandemic Walks here


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