Scarborough Heights Park is a great place for dog walkers. The dogs rate it 4 out of 5 paws.
At first glance, this park is not impressive. From the road it appears to be just several huge grassy fields… boring. With closer inspection, we realized that this park is actually a marvellous gem, hidden in plain sight!
Here are the main reasons we love this park.
Huge fields for on-leash training
Scarborough Heights Park is a whopping 60 acres. Those enormous empty fields are great places to train dogs to walk on-leash, without distractions. There aren’t many places like it in the city; huge grassy areas with no sports fields, very few people or other dogs, no bikes, rollerbladers, or cars … the very emptiness is the benefit. Teaching dogs to walk on a loose leash is much easier without all of that busy-ness going on. Besides being a perfect spot for loose-leash training, it’s a nice, peaceful place to walk with dogs. There are also great big trees for shade interspersed among the large fields and all along the edge of the cliff.
Grassy, fenced, off-leash dog park
There is also a fenced, off-leash dog park with grass and shade. At this time there is no running water for dogs, but people bring water and fill a couple of large bowls. Visitors have also donated several lawn chairs to the dog park. Oddly, the trees in the dog park have fences around them. The trees are already established, so the extra fencing seems unnecessary, unsightly and takes up considerable space inside the fenced dog park area. Otherwise the dog park is awesome and quite spacious.
Spectacular beauty with views of the bluffs
Breathtaking views of Lake Ontario from great heights are visible through the trees along the edge of the cliff. Although the gorgeous views are even more magnificent nearer to the edge of the bluffs, it is advisable to remain behind the fencing, because the edge of the cliff is eroding and occasional land slides occur. The bluff edge is undercut in some areas, so be wise and stay safe!
Archaeological evidence reveals that First Nations people established settlements along the Scarborough Bluffs 10,000 years ago, making this one of the oldest inhabited sites in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
Old road leads steeply down to the water
Take your time walking down the old road to the lake shore. There is loose gravel on top of the old asphalt, so walk carefully. If you venture down to the lake shore, be prepared for a long, steep climb back to the top! The hill is a challenging hike, however, it is well worth the effort. On weekdays the place is almost empty. We may see one or two other hardy hikers down there.
It is absolutely gorgeous! The main path along the water leads to the East with the water lapping on the breakwater boulders. There are several flat, rocky beach areas accessible for dogs to play along the shoreline and swim in the water. The Scarborough Bluffs tower along the shoreline in spectacular fashion.
Location & Parking
Scarborough Heights Park is accessible from Fishleigh Drive, Scarborough, ON M1N 1G9. It is South of Kingston Road, on the shore of Lake Ontario, in the Cliffcrest neighbourhood. Parking is free along the street and is generally in ample supply and there is a parking lot by the dog park behind the water pumping station. By TTC the #12Kingston Road bus stop is only a five minute walk from the park.
Note: At this time, Google maps incorrectly directs drivers to go down Wynnview Court, which is a dead end road (more like a semi-private driveway). There is no place to park on Wynnview so people turning around in their driveways, while looking for this park, must annoy the residents.
Scarborough Heights Park is located beside Rosetta McClain Gardens – a 23 acre park where the unfriendly sign says: “Dogs, picnics, bicycle riding, any ball activity, rollerblades and skateboards are NOT ALLOWED.” Basically all fun active things are not allowed. Rosetta McClain Gardens is for admiring flowers, sitting or strolling only – lovely for people, but the dogs give Rosetta McClain Gardens 0 out of 5 paws.
Suggestions for Improvement
From the viewpoint of dog walkers, what would make Scarborough Heights Park even better?
It would be much better if there was running water for the dogs and a washroom for the humans.
Trimming the treetops in a few areas along the cliff would permit access to the amazing view without tempting visitors to pass beyond the security fences. This would reduce erosion and make it safe for visitors to enjoy the view.
Commercial dog walkers are not permitted to use the fenced dog park, which makes absolutely no sense as the dog park is almost always completely empty on weekdays during daytime hours. The dog parks that commercial dog walkers are permitted to use are seriously overcrowded in Toronto East and Scarborough Southwest, which contains the highest density of dogs per capita in the country. We suggest opening this (and ALL dog parks) to everyone, so the dog walkers (and everyone’s beloved pooches) can spread out evenly.
Perhaps one day, the lake shore trails will be joined together. On weekends in summer, people do scramble on the rocks, walk through the water, and brave brambles and scrapes, as well as stings from fire ants, to hike either East toward Scarborough Bluffs Park, or West toward the Beaches Boardwalk. But it’s not an easy or advisable hike for the faint of heart. A continuous lakeshore path would be a great benefit for everyone.