This Sunday, I took a long walk with the purpose of checking out a few parks I had never been to before. On the top of the list was Glen Stewart Ravine, which looked nice from the photos I’d seen.
Let me tell you: Glen Stewart Ravine is not nice. Glen Stewart Ravine is stunning.
And I mean really, truly stunning. Its snowy landscape was so beautiful I actually felt giddy, looking around for who I could share the moment with and finding only a man walking a dog who looked at me a little wearily. The dog, however, barked, so I think he got it.
Stepping into the ravine is one of those moments in Toronto where you are quickly plunged into what appears to be the middle of the woods only a few steps after you leave a residential street behind you. It’s what I imagine walking through the wardrobe and stepping into Narnia would be like. Everything has this kind of miniaturized magic to it. If a gnome had passed me on the trail my reaction would have been: Well, of course.
The 11 hectare ravine is designated as an environmentally significant area by the City, which are natural sites of particular importance because of unique features or wildlife. In the case of Glen Stewart Ravine, “several species of birds and plants observed within the area are regionally uncommon,” the City says. (The City is proposing to expand the number of these areas from the current 18 to 86). There is also a little mini-creek called Ames Creek where I imagine the gnomes come to do their laundry.
The ravine recently underwent a reconstruction project led by the City and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. This helped to stabilize slopes with new retaining walls and create raised boardwalks and pedestrian bridges to improve access.
For the complete experience, I would suggest starting at Queen Street East at Ivan Forrest Gardens and walk north until you see the entrance to Glen Stewart Ravine, which is on the east side. While these parks don’t have the secluded feel of the ravine, they are wonderful spaces in their own right with a nice pedestrian bridge about halfway up.
My only complaint is that the road that edges these parks, Glen Manor Drive, is not super pedestrian friendly. Drivers went pretty fast, the intersections are wide with broad turns, and there is no crosswalk to guide you to the pedestrian bridge.
Overall, it’s an easy walk in terms of distance and slope, mostly. But the pathways through Ivan Forrest Gardens are not cleared of snow and there are some slippery parts in the ravine, so it’s not super accessible in the winter.
The boardwalk through Glen Stewart Ravine will spit you onto Kingston Road where you can catch the streetcar or, if you’re like me, wander into the cute bookstore, The Great Escape, and buy a book to read on the way home.
But whatever you do, go to the ravine. Go there when there is snow. Look out for the gnomes.
Here’s the route I took: