Toronto's east-side exploration of the best of nature, history, urban parks, and artisinal and international food arts
Why visit The Meadoway
Toronto is Canada‘s largest urban centre with the Meadoway Circuit being the star sustainable attraction. It is a good choice to go on a green trip to The Meadoway! Prior visitors can be excused from not having explored beyond the downtown core with myriad of famous venues, events, and neighbourhoods.
Let’s pause and consider where the locals love to escape within their own city. A short streetcar ride from The Eaton Centre are Blue flag board-walked beaches looking out over Lake Ontario combined with walkable retail shops and independent restaurants always please people who come to The Beaches.
Time your visit during a seasonal festival for added excitement or during quieter times for more reflection. A little bit further east are the Scarborough Bluffs majestically standing behind a playground of options including a full marina. Travel deeper into Scarborough to visit Guild Park and Gardens where you might catch the Arts Guild displaying their work or enjoy outdoor theatre. As you travel farther east, come to the mouth of the Rouge River and another fine sand beach which is a playground for off-shore parasailing, kayaking, and other water sports. Turn northward to follow the Rouge River inland along protected wildlife shores into Canada’s only National Urban Park. Take a sharp turn at the Metro Zoo to work your way back along The Meadoway: 16 km of walking/biking trails that link to the Don River or slow your journey by making stops at the Scarborough Historical Museum and food-hopping for an any-time-of-year Taste of Lawrence. This destination is best done by taking transit to each leg of the circuit and then either walking, biking, or boating at each point along the way for a half to full day journey at each stop. Lakes, rivers and ravines. Sand, boardwalks, sidewalks, forest trails, and bike paths. Native wildflower and pollinator trails or groomed gardens. All of it open to the public at no or very low cost to enjoy.
The Meadoway Circuit integrates local residents, businesses, and visitors with the corridor to animate a previously ignored hydroelectricity for public and sustainable use.
The First of Its Kind: Rouge National Urban Park.
Health and Safety
Signage, advertising, public awareness campaigns aimed at local inhabitants all encourage social distancing, mask-wearing, hand-washing, and paying attention to crowding. The police divisions covered by the Meadoway Circuit are patrolled by vehicle, bicycle, horse, and foot officers who are enforcing the by-laws in both outside and inside venues. A virtual training portal for tourism and hospitality workers. Retail stores and high-traffic locations have added one-way flow signage or measured spacing on the ground. The majority of accommodation available to tourists is located closer to downtown and mid-town Toronto, unless visitors choose to stay in community-based online platform style short-term rentals. Local motels meet most budget-seeking travellers needs. and are generally used for construction project workers. With an increase in development that is presently occurring, finer accommodations are being planned to meet the needs of future travellers.
Culture & Local Life
The Scarborough Museum sits at the top of the hill overlooking grass parks, forests, and a small river that runs through it. Within walking distance are plaques and structures that explain the historic nexus of Indigenous peoples and early settlers who farmed the agricultural lands. Locals often use the parks for picnics and sports or to attend the events put on by the museum that generally focus on interactive activities for families. Foodies can always find something they have never tried before from the many immigrant cultures who have brought their favourite cuisines with them using authentic ingredients.
Access the Toronto Transit Commission’s TTC subways, buses, or streetcars from almost any point within Toronto and navigate to the TTC 501 Eastbound streetcar to get to The Beaches. Or ride along the Waterfront Trail that hugs the waterfront: bike-share options are available. Buses are available from the Beaches to access the remaining areas of the circuit at any point, or, start at any point along the way. Some weekday rush hour restrictions apply to bringing bicycles onto transit. Some locations may require advanced reservations to rent boards, canoes, kayaks or boats. There are more than enough modes of transportation to choose from for your green trip to The Meadoway!
Public transit is more frequent closer to the core of Toronto with generally less than a 15 minute wait at any time. The farther away from the core wait times for transit may be up to 30 minutes at some points. During Covid 19 restrictions may apply to how many people can travel down into the bluffs parks on very busy days. Almost all of the locations offer free parking if there is no event happening. Some trails do not have night time lighting; however, all areas along the circuit are generally considered safe at any time of the day or night and the skies in some areas are dark enough for celestial viewing. The Meadoway, at this point, does not have winter maintenance that is a priority; however, this is in the works. The Pan Am path also runs through much of this area and can be found here.
Nature and Wildlife
Photographers, bird-watchers, hikers, cyclists, canoeists, kayakers and sports enthusiasts love to visit this Meadoway Circuit to capture what often appears to be remote isolated vistas even though they have never left the city limits.
Travel tips from our editors
Visit during peak and off-peak season
During Peak Season (when the temperature is above 25°C) is when the majority of comfortable transit options encourage walking/biking/hiking/boating/swimming and when the majority of food, music, and art fairs occur. However, the spring, fall and winter seasons offer great vistas as the city either comes back to life with new growth or displays its fall leaves as well as any northern Ontario viewpoint. During the winter, there are still very interesting walks and events along the Beach such as the Winter Stations and winter hiking through the parks. Areas throughout have opportuntiies for snowshoing, cross country skiing, and tobogganing but are not officially maintained as such. Every season is a good choice to go on a green trip to The Meadoway!
Take the GO train
Take the GO Train to Rouge Station which is within walking distance of the Rouge River Trails and the beach.
Hiking and biking
Access the City of Toronto Cycling Network Map which is updated frequently. BlogTO is another great resource for hiking and all things Toronto. Visiting by “neighbourhood” is available, for example The Beaches that you can see here. Be sure not to miss the hiking and biking experience during your green trip to The Meadoway.
Park People maintains a listing of Friends of Park Groups, many of which are located along the circuit. Individual group pages show listings of events in the parks that also include invasive weed control, native plant/shrub/tree plantings, Janes’s Walks, or educational tours. Toronto Forestry offers a listing of events that they oversee. Local Community Associations and City Councillors also hold events in the parks that run through this area.
The Meadoway and all the attractions included in the Meadoway Circuit was selected on the 2019 Sustainable Destinations Top 100 Award. Thanks to its forward and innovative transformation of a hydro corridor into a 16km long experience that connects 7 rivers and ravine systems, 16 parks, 20 kilometres of trail, 13 neighbourhoods and over 200 hectares of meadow where more than 1,000 diverse species of flora and fauna live. The Rouge National Urban Park, Beaches and Bluffs are an extension of The Meadoway that creates a more varied experience for the sustainable traveller.