Updated: May 2, 2021
(COVID Update as of May 1, 2021: Read parking info at the end of the article, after the map.)
For this final 4.7 km walk in my series of four suggested strolls around Woodbine Beach, I explore Ashbridges Bay... and the pastry counter of an excellent French patisserie.
March 31 to April 6, 2021
After a false start, hoping to see the sun come out through holes that kept closing in the clouds, the first week of April gave me orange skies that seemed to warm the lake. I even got a red sun once!
Another morning, a stratus bar lined the horizon under a clear sky. When the sun rose above this Prussian blue barrier, a golden streak ran along the edge of the clouds. And when the days were clear, I was treated to a tropical orange sky.
I-Spy at Woodbine Beach
On Easter Sunday, unlike other mornings before sunrise, I saw a small congregation facing the sun to celebrate the Resurrection. A beautiful symbol.
On the same day, I also saw a bunch of people meditating quietly by the water. And two nuns jogging. And the usual four bathers. I learned that they are followers of the WIM (Wim Hof Method), which attributes a host of physical and mental health benefits to cold immersion. We start by trying 30 seconds of cold showers at home, and build our endurance. (When I say "we", I mean others, because for me, WIM is definitely not an option!)
4.7-km circuit around Woodbine Beach
I propose a 4.7 km loop to explore Ashbridges Bay and enjoy a gourmet stop at Zane Patisserie. Your starting point will obviously depend on where you choose to park. I will consider my usual starting point near the Tim Hortons at the foot of Northern Dancer Boulevard in anticipation of the return to normal.
If you walk west on Woodbine Beach, you will reach the end of the boardwalk. Follow the curve of the boardwalk to the public restrooms, behind which is a nice little community garden. (Note: the public restrooms are still closed at this time of year, but there are two portable restrooms a little further down the road at the entrance to the parking lot).
Past the garden, I recommend following all the little dirt paths you'll come across to the right of the paved driveway. They will give you access to the most beautiful views. After the first bay overlooking the marina, you can walk on two consecutive boardwalks as you watch the seagulls frolic.
Further on, the panorama of the city is impressive! On my last visit, a red canoe was moving forward with the CN Tower in the background. To the left, a giant crane was moving tons of rocks while hundreds of seagulls circulated noisily over a strip of land. Urban nature offers a curious mix.
At the turn of the point, going back east, follow the opening through the trees on your right. You will reach a pretty, secluded bay with inviting picnic tables.
Continue along the waterfront wherever the trails allow. It is not uncommon to see swans. There are more hidden tables that make excellent little spots for reading or meditating.
You will eventually reach the great beach of Woodbine. On the first April weekend, as I stood in my winter coat, I saw that there were already a few shirtless Canadians playing volleyball... Walk to Lake Shore Boulevard and cross at the traffic lights leading to the beautiful electric box decorated with fish. Then, continue up the street behind it, Joseph Duggan Rd, to Queen Street.
Say “oui” to the croissant!
On your right, across the street, you'll see Zane Patisserie (1842 Queen St. East, open daily from 7:30am to 5:30pm). Everything they serve is scrumptious! Croissant, pains au chocolat, brioches, fine pastries. Ze real thing! They also serve quiches, croque-monsieur and sandwiches in French bread. Also, yes, they serve coffee.
On April 18, I went to Ashbridges Bay at around 8 a.m. There was a police car but they allowed cars to come and go. By 9 a.m., they were installing a yellow tape to prevent people from parking around Woodbine Beach (they only let the marina people and out).
On May 1, a policeman at Woodbine confirmed to me that the parking lots won't be closed after all during the May lockdown... (but the City's website still say that we can't).
Note that the parking meters are back in the City parks from May to September. But we only need to pay from 5 pm to 9 pm on weekdays (max $5), and from 9 am to midnight on weekends or holidays (max $9).
In case the parking lots are closed you want to watch the sunrises, you need to know the following:
• The residential streets around Woodbine Beach won't allow you to park between 12 midnight and 7 a.m. Since the sun currently rises earlier than 6:30 a.m., it's a problem!
• We're allowed to park for free on the south side of Eastern Avenue (west of Coxwell), but ONLY on weekends.
• If you don't mind paying for parking, you'll find plenty of spots in the Green P parking lots south of Queen (#183 to #187, between Winners Cricle and Woodbine). It might cost you $8 if they charge the fixed rates for the time before and after 7 a.m. (max for 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. is $3, and max for 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. is $5).
• You can park for free on the south side of Queen East BEFORE 8 a.m. Monday to Saturday and before 1 p.m. on Sundays, but ONLY east of Woodbine.
1st Week of SUNRISES at Woodbine Beach (1/4): With 6-km walk around Queen East
2nd Week of SUNRISES at Woodbine Beach (2/4): With 6-km walk around Queen East
3rd Week of SUNRISES at Woodbine Beach (3/4): With 3.6-km walk around street art
Today's post is a complement to THE BEACH Soothing Stroll, one of 26 walks featured in my latest walking guide: Toronto BEST Urban Strolls. You can order it through your local bookstore, or online on amazon.ca, Indigo.ca or directly from the author. You can also pick up copies at 299 Booth Avenue by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org