Back Tracks – 5 Years of Trails

April 20, 2019

Hiking the GTA photographed their initial blog on April 20, 2014.  In the five years that have passed since then we’ve released over 350 stories which include over 4,000 pictures.  We’ve had the opportunity to explore most of the Credit, Humber and Don Rivers as well as the Lakefront Trail and large sections of the Bruce Trail.  We’ve explored most of the parks and ravines in the area.  Our posts explore the areas as they exist today and by looking at the local history we discover how they came to be this way.  Many people have gone exploring after reading about an area in their neighbourhood and we’ve had some amazing feedback.  Thank you for all the encouraging comments, they mean a lot to us.

Here, then are the top twenty stories from our first five years, as selected by readers.  Click on the title of each story to get to the original post for more details about each location, including Google Maps links.  Pick a couple that look interesting and plan your summer trips in advance.

20) Barber Paper Mills – Georgetown

One of the most picturesque sets of mill ruins in the GTA is located on The Credit River in Georgetown.  Parts of the building date back to 1820 and the founding of the town.

Barber paper

19) Graydon Hall

One of Toronto’s rich elite built this estate complete with terraced gardens and cascading fountains.  The old pump house still remains near the Don River.


18) Adamson Estate

This estate was built in 1920 on the lake shore in Mississauga.  It is linked with the Cawthra Estate because it was a wedding gift for their daughter Mabel.


17) The Vandalized Memorial

This little park contained a memorial to Taras Chevchenko but it was vandalized many times and now is slated to be replaced with a subdivision.  Check it out before it is gone forever.


16) The Devil’s Punch Bowl

The Devil’s Punchbowl is one of the most interesting waterfalls in the GTHA.  This post got Hiking the GTA mentioned on Wikipedia for the detailed description of the geological strata revealed here.

punch bowl

15) The Devil’s Well

This huge glacial pothole is the last of a series that have collapsed.  This one can be entered through a small crack at the bottom.


14) Camp Calydor – German POW Camp

Located in Gravenhurst, this is one of the POW camps used by the Allies during World War Two to house German prisoners.


13) The Longhouse People Of Crawford Lake

Crawford Lake is meromictic, which means that the bottom is never disturbed.  Corn pollen in core samples taken from the bottom of the lake showed an agricultural society was living here 500 years ago.  This led to the discovery of thousands of artifacts and a village of longhouses.

img_1571 (1)

12) Mimico Branch Asylum

When Mimico Branch Asylum opened in 1889 it was thought that mental patients would benefit from the cottage style atmosphere rather than the hospital nature of the asylum at 999 Queen Street in Toronto.  It closed in 1979 and sat empty until recently being re-purposed as a campus for Humber College.


11) Raymore Drive

Raymore Drive was the site of a small community of houses until Hurricane Hazel destroyed it, killing many residents.


10) Merritton Tunnel (Blue Ghost Tunnel)

This railway tunnel under the Third Welland Canal was replaced with a swing bridge.  The abandoned tunnel has been bricked closed on one end but people still go inside, claiming to see a blue ghost in the dark.


9) Toronto’s Abandoned Roads

A city is living entity and as such is always evolving, changing and growing.  Most often roads are widened and extended but sometimes they are cut off and abandoned.  This post looks at a number of those closed roads in Toronto.

Bayview bridge

8) Palermo – Ghost Towns of the GTA

The expansion of Oakville threatens the remains of this former community.  Like many of Ontario’s early towns, this one has become a sign on the road and a bunch of abandoned houses waiting for demolition.


7) Joshua Creek

The Harding House was built in 1938 near the mouth of Joshua Creek and must have been quite the estate when it was more isolated.


6) Bond Lake

Bond Lake is the site of  a former railway amusement park.  The Toronto & York Radial Railway built a transformer station beside the lake and then turned the area into a money making tourist trap.  Only scattered remains can be found around the lake.


5) Lotten – Cawthra Estate

The Cawthra Estate was built on lot ten and their driveway is now Cawthra Road.  The house was built in 1926 and sits in a wood lot that is full of clues to the former estate.

img_0383 (1)

4) Ringwood – Ghost Towns of the GTA

We have published an ongoing series of Ghost Towns of the GTA which has proven quite popular.  Ringwood has been the most successful of these stories, perhaps because it has so many buildings remaining.


3) The Gap

This hole in the side of the escarpment can be seen from the 401 near Milton.  It is the opening cut by an aggregate company in the 1960’s.  The Bruce Trail crosses the bridge over the gap.


2) Rice Lake’s Sunken Railway

In the 1860’s this railway crossed Rice Lake on an extensive trestle.  When it was abandoned the rail line was left just below the surface of the water. It has been the ruin of many a propeller on an unwary boat.

harwood-1 (2)

1) Newmarket Ghost Canal

Our all time most popular post features the abandoned remains of one of the GTA’s biggest engineering projects of the early 20th century.  New evidence suggests that this attempt to link Newmarket with Lake Simcoe could have been successful.


We’re looking forward to the next five years of exploring the GTA and discovering what is out there to be found.

Like us at

Follow us at

14 thoughts on “Back Tracks – 5 Years of Trails

  1. Ruth Moore

    Love all your hard work producing these historical pieces, so nice to get the remaining historical evidence recorded.

  2. Eric May

    Fascinating stories and interesting places. I have learned a lot about the area through your articles. Keep up the great work.

  3. Pingback: Bruce Trail – Kerns Road to Guelph Line | Hiking the GTA

  4. Pingback: Rouge National Urban Park – Beare Hill Park | Hiking the GTA

  5. Pingback: The Crows Nest Side Trail | Hiking the GTA

  6. Pingback: Chalmer’s Milling Co. | Hiking the GTA

  7. Pingback: Downsview – Ghost Towns of the GTA | Hiking the GTA

  8. Pingback: The John Charlton House | Hiking the GTA

  9. Pingback: The Bruce Trail – Waterdown | Hiking the GTA

  10. Pingback: Queen’s Park | Hiking the GTA

  11. Pingback: The Auto Graveyard | Hiking the GTA

  12. Pingback: Burlington Canal | Hiking the GTA

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s