Toronto River walk: the new East Don Trail Phase 2 in Victoria Village
Updated: 2 days ago
WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU? A cool access to East Don Trail from Wigmore Park + architectural pedestrian bridges + Middle East pastries.
I can’t believe I just “discovered” the Phase 2 of East Don Trail and its beautiful pedestrian bridges!
The pre-rusted Corten steel of the new pedestrian bridges ages very well in a natural setting.
The previous time I walked westbound on the East Don Trail, I noticed a bridge under construction and assumed it simply linked the trail to the residential area we could see towering above the trees. My bad! Recently, when strolling with a friend, I saw that the bridge was completed so we went to see where it took us.
Surprise! The trail past the bridge does not take us up to the condos as I imagined but it makes a turn westbound. Following the paved path, we eventually reach Wigmore Park 1.3 km further east (20-min walk).
Accessing the trail from Wigmore Park
I was thrilled when I saw that hilly Wigmore Park is set in a residential area surrounded by streets with free parking space. It provides a year round access to the East Don Trail, where side trails lead to untamed sections of the East Don River. Urban nature at its best. I had to return, this time accessing the trail from Wigmore Park.
As I’m always on the lookout for a decadent treat near the trails I explore, I found that Kunafa's was the closest (1801 Lawrence Avenue East), approx. 2 kms from Wigmore Park. Their website was very promising, featuring their specialty, kunafa (or kanafeh), a traditional Middle East cheese and dough pastry drizzled in sweet syrup.
We left Kunafa’s with our exotic loot, did the 4-min drive to Wigmore Park, and then parked on Pitcairn Crescent off Wigmore Drive. The picnic table on top of the hill was the perfect spot to have our first taste of the Middle East warmed pastry. Sooo good!
We then followed the trail down the slope into the forest.
What to expect along the 4.4 kms loop
See UPDATE (tips and more decadent places) from my latest visit on May 26, 2023 at the end of this post
If the ground is dry, I recommend you eventually leave the main trail to take the sinuous gravel trail to your left. It reaches the East Don River.
You can then follow the dirt path to your right, running along the water. It’s a lovely river walk amidst mature trees and tall grass, eventually leading through a large evergreen patch back to the main paved path and the first pedestrian bridge of Phase 2.
The Phase 2 of the East Don trail was completed in November 2020, extending 2 kms from Wigmore Park to the existing East Don trail.
With two pedestrian bridges linked by a boardwalk and railings adding lines to the perspective, the whole thing is a wonderful piece of architecture! Gorgeous metal panels with fish cutouts complete the polished look. We found similar panels on the other bridges.
A bit further, we reached the third pedestrian bridge, connecting us to the existing East Don Trail. I like that the new pedestrian bridges are made in the pre-rusted Corten steel that ages so well in a natural setting, which also ties in with the art installations along the trail further west.
At the bridge, the river is quite narrow on one side but it opens up on the east side, giving us a lovely panorama of the stream rushing… northbound. Northbound? One has to look at a map to see how the sinuous river works its way to Lake Ontario.
Art in nature
Turn right towards the Go Train bridge. Don’t miss the sign explaining the art installation by Robert Sprachman you’ll find under the bridge! The rocks suspended at different heights represent the various flood lines over the years, in increments of 8 years.
A bit further, under the majestic railway bridge, awaits A Walk in the Forest, also by Robert Sprachman. It is so nicely integrated into the bridge structure that it is easy to miss. But don’t! You need to slowly walk on one side, and then on the other, to see the story unfold.
Keep walking for 5 minutes and you’ll see the Rainbow tunnel to your left. A rainbow was painted on both sides and the tunnel is lined with colourful murals. It marks the middle point go my 4.4 kms loop.