Humber Marshes – Urban Oasis

Saturday May 3, 2014

It was a cloudy morning around 7 degrees.  We entered the trail on the east side of the Humber River, south of Bloor St.  This is Etienne Brule park and it is undeveloped.  It is named after the first European to see the Toronto area and who arrived at the mouth of the Humber River in 1615.  Once down in here among the trees and the ample wild life it’s easy to imagine that you’re not in the heart of Canada’s largest city or perhaps its 1615 all over again.  The little trail quickly descends to the marshes and runs along the river bank.  We were surprised to find deer tracks, thinking they weren’t this far down the river.  We stayed along the river until the first pond was passed.  Here the trail climbs the hill and then drops back down.  If you follow the river you will soon come to a stretch of water you can’t get across.  There is a second pond in here which has a permanent opening to the river.  The two ponds on the right hand side of the river show up as green in the shot below because it was taken in late summer and they’re covered in algae.  At this time of year the ponds clear and are home to many wetland bird species.

Etienne Brule Park

We had seen that the deer tacks went into the woods so we followed and it wasn’t long before we saw a female deer.  It’s standing at the edge of the grass with its head hiding behind the tree that’s in the middle of this picture.


We had already determined that you couldn’t get through around the back side of this pond because the hillside is steep and runs right down to the water’s edge.  However, we’d seen the deer come from that way and guessed it knew something we didn’t.  It turns out that the deer had made it’s way along the edge of the water and we could too.  We eventually came out at the river’s edge having got around the point we couldn’t cross.  Somewhere along the way we re-graded this hike from “advanced” to “daring”.  This part of the hike should not be tried.  For our efforts, we got to watch an Egret making it’s way along the opposite shore as it was fishing.



There was a small strip that contained hundreds of freshwater clam shells.


This is an excellent hike if you like bird watching as we identified  more than 30 different species.  Among them were many waterbirds, including Egrets, King Fishers, Swans, Cormorants and Terns.



It was also nice to see the willows turning green and everything else coming into bud.  It seems late this year, maybe that makes it a little more beautiful to see.



4 thoughts on “Humber Marshes – Urban Oasis

  1. Pingback: Riverdale Farm | Hiking the GTA

  2. Anthony Derbish

    Hi There,

    Live in the area, Where exactly were you able to access the trail on the east side south of bloor. I am well away of all the trails on the west bank but I am unable to find access to the marshes on the east side without having to cut through someone’s backyard.


    1. hikingthegta Post author

      We went down a small trail beside an apartment parking lot, right at the corner of the bridge over Bloor Street.


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