No matter your skill level, there’s no better way to go exploring and take in the scenery than by canoe. Though connecting with nature might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Toronto, a plethora of rivers, creeks and, of course, Lake Ontario enjoyed from a canoe just might give you the opportunity to see the city from a whole new perspective.
Here are five areas in and around Toronto to try canoeing this summer.
The Humber River
A designated Canadian Heritage River, the Humber is located in the west end of Toronto and spans 126 km. Featuring a number of access points and ample parking, paddlers will have the opportunity to soak up the picturesque scenery, where you’re bound to see wildlife including owls and hawks, mink and beavers and maybe even a raccoon.
On Toronto’s eastern border, you’ll find the Rouge River, accessible via Rouge National Urban Park, located in Scarborough. Hop in a canoe and explore the river which flows from the Oak Ridges Moraine to Lake Ontario, and admire the scenic bluffs, stunning vistas and dense forest habitat including rare Carolinian tree species including black maple, blue beech and white oak.
A 13-minute ferry ride will get you to the Toronto Islands in a jiffy where you can explore the group of 15 islands interconnected by pathways and bridges. At the Toronto Island Boathouse, you can rent canoes, kayaks or paddleboats, and explore the peaceful lagoon which is home to over 35 species of fish, sea turtles, herons and nesting swans.
Urban paddlers can head west of Toronto to the Credit River located in Mississauga. Flowing from the Niagara Escarpment to Lake Ontario, this winding river is considered a great option for beginners thanks to its gentle flow. Meander beneath bridges and through valleys, while taking in a wide range of wildlife including frogs, turtles and salamanders.
Along the western fringe of the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Grand River is the largest river entirely within southern Ontario borders, and flows south through a number of cities including Elora, Kitchener and Brantford, before emptying into Lake Erie. Grand River Rafting offers four trips along the river including a 13 km option from Paris to Brant — considered the gentlest paddle — and for the expert, a 17.5 km, five-hour trip from Cambridge to Paris where paddlers can experience fresh water springs and spots to swim.