Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Morningside Park: Fall colours, fighting fish and flickering sunlights on the river

We visited Morningside Park over 15 years ago, when there were no playground, no splash pad, no paved path... and no washrooms. Bonus! Now, it has all of the above, and the same easy access to the wide stream of Highland Creek which our little adventurers enjoyed so much years ago.

Arriving from Morningside Road, we drove past the first parking lot (which remains open all year-round) and beyond the gates that close during the winter. It truly felt like a country road. 

Based on Google map, I saw that from the last parking lot, we would have reached the paved trail by walking to the end of the field. But for this time, we choose to drive back to the first parking lot to check the facilities.

Past the restrooms, I saw this cute splash pad (closed for the season at this time of the year). It overlooks a large grassed park and sits by a fun playground where plenty of kids were playing on the warm fall day.

We walked past the playground towards the paved path and turned right. There were enough leafy trees to enjoy fall colours. Soon, we noticed an opening to our left and walked towards the river.

Admiring the view, we heard a splash and thought we saw an otter playing in the water. It turned out to be a huge Atlantic Salmon trying to reach the lake. We could spot its orange fin popping out of the water as it tried to swim down the stream. (If you're wondering what a salmon is doing in this creek, read this critical article on the  Ministry of Natural Resources' Atlantic Salmon experiment!)

We walked further south on the paved path shared by bikers and pedestrians. The panorama changes every 100 metres, at times under the shade of mature trees, or under the bright blue sky. Sometimes going uphill, very often passing by the river.

Before a little bridge (.7 km from the playground), we took an uphill trail on our right. It quickly led to a huge sandy patch by an elbow of the creek. More secluded then the other parts of the park we had seen so far, it looked to me like the perfect spot for a picnic!

We returned to the path and crossed the bridge. Further down the road, we lost track of the stream. 

When we met it again, it was lined by stones that formed steps leading to the shore.

We took the right branch of a fork and ran under Lawrence Avenue, where the underpass pillars were adorned with cool street art. (By then, we were 2.3 km from the playground.)

A 5-minute walk further, we took a small path on our left, climbing towards stairs which led us to the intersection of Celeste Drive and Templeton Crescent in a residential area. We called it quits and walked 2.7 km back to our car. 

I later found out that, had we kept going south on the larger paved path, we would have reached the Cedar Ridge Creative Centre and Gallery with a cute garden and ungoing exhibitions. 

There is roughly 3 km between the gallery and the playground, which means a 6 km walk (about 1 hr 30). 

While you're there:
I noticed a Starbucks at the south-east corner of Morningside Avenue and Kingston Road (255 Morningside). 

There are two all-day breakfast concessions nearby: Sunset Grill (4551 Kingston Road, on the south side, one block east of Morningside) and Eggsmart (4410 Kingston Road, on the north side, one block west of Morningside).

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