Warden Woods Dog Park & Nature Trail

South west entrance to Gus Harris trail showing trail sign and details about the history of Gus Harris trail South West entrance to Gus Harris trail in Warden Woods Image by Peter Riemer

Warden Woods – Dog Walkers’ Delight

Warden Woods is a great place for dog walkers to take local pooches to play in the fully fenced dog park. The dog park area is medium sized, about half an acre to an acre, with two entrances. Each entrance is double gated. It has been landscaped with sand and it has a working water fountain, with a built-in dog drinking bowl. There are various other drinking containers for dogs that remain there for anyone to use as well. This dog park features some nice big shade trees on the perimeter.

The Dog Park is a Fun & Busy Place

The dog walkers that frequent the park are friendly dog lovers, who take their roles seriously, keep the area clean, ensure that the dogs play safely together and have a great time. On weekdays however, it can get quite full very quickly, as carloads of dogs arrive, one after another. So, it’s best to only take dogs there that can handle a lot of canine socialization in a rather small space.

On the occasions we’ve visited, we’ve opted for our dogs to spend only part of the time romping in the off-leash area with all of the dogs, and part of the time walking on-leash along the beautiful trail.

Warden woods dog park on a beautiful spring day many dogs playing in the park overseen by dog walker

Warden Woods dog park on a beautiful spring day

Image by Peter Riemer

2 Kilometers of Trails for Dog Walking

Although the off-leash dog park is on the small side, Warden Woods park is actually quite large, and the Gus Harris Trail officially ranges for 2 kilometres, from Pharmacy Ave. in the South-West, to the corner of St. Clair Ave. E and Warden Ave. The Gus Harris Trail is in the wooded ravine, following along the East side of Massey Creek. Interestingly, “over 12,000 years ago, the Taylor-Massey Creek … emptied into an ancient glacial Lake Iroquois near Byng Park, which is across the creek from the south end of the Gus Harris Trail”.

How to get to Warden Woods Dog Park & Nature Trail

If you are arriving by car, the best access point is found on the east side of Pharmacy Ave 3 blocks North of Danforth. This is also the entrance closest to the off-leash dog park and the beginning of the South end of the trail. If you are arriving by TTC, Victoria Park subway station is near the South end, and the Warden subway station is a five-minute walk from the park’s North entrance at the St. Clair Avenue East and Warden Avenue intersection. However, unfortunately, at the time of this writing, (July 2016) ongoing construction is blocking the Northern third of the trail.

Picture of bridge surrounded by trees with a large boulder in the path

Bridge crossing Massey Creek

Image by Peter Riemer

Ongoing Construction Blocks 1/3 of the Trail

The construction that is blocking the trail involves large boulders and huge piles of dirt, which with any amount of rain or snow becomes very thick mud that is impassable to any dog walker that doesn’t want to have to explain why the dog left home clean &/or white, but came home from their walk covered in muck. This site has a lovely description of Warden Woods park and shows a photo of an old bridge. The bridge is still standing but it now has a huge boulder in front of it to prevent anything heavier than a few people walking across at a time. The project seems to be very slow going and obviously it has not been made a huge priority to get it completed. We look forward to hiking the whole trail when it’s done and will be happy to add an update to this post.

Picture showing muddy trail and large mounds of dirt

Warden Woods trail is still under construction

Image by Peter Riemer

Otherwise, the other 3/4 of the park is a beautiful place. It’s a very peaceful spot to walk along the paved path by the water, under the canopy of big trees. It’s a lovely place to enjoy the sounds of nature and water while in the midst of the city. There are couple of bridges and at least one bench along the trail. With the trail being incomplete, it’s only about a 30 minute walk along the paved trail starting from the parking lot. There are also unpaved footpaths branching out along the way. The entire park is 85 acres and in winter is apparently a great place for snowshoeing or cross country skiing. For some lovely photos and description of Warden Woods in winter, check out this Walking woman blog post.

Trails Could Connect Through the Golf Course

Warden Woods park is part of a huge green belt running from the Don River, along Taylor and Massey Creeks, that would connect to the awesome Taylor Creek Trail, if only the Dentonia Park Golf Course was not plonked between Victoria Park and Pharmacy Ave. It would be truly wonderful for the trail to pass through the golf course for all of the residents in the area to get to enjoy a long hike or medium bike ride along Massey Creek. Surely the deer and other wildlife would be happy about it as well.

Picture of paved trail bordered by trees after a rain

Warden Woods asphalt trail after a rain

Image by Peter Riemer

Conservation Efforts to Protect Warden Woods

This pdf describes Warden Woods as “one of the ecological jewels of Taylor Massey Creek, consisting for the most part of a well-treed flood-plain and steep valley slopes that shelter the creek” You can read more about the conservation studies and recommendations at www.theTMP.org, under both the Reach Portal as well as under Self Guided Tours. The Taylor Massey Project recommends that the park be protected by: keeping the park free of electric lights, banning any bicycle use off of the paved paths, prohibiting any more trails from being added, and prohibiting the construction of washrooms.

Suggestions for Improvement

Urban nature lovers would be more motivated to support conservation efforts if the place was made more useable by the public. From the perspective of former tree-planters and current dog walkers, who chose this profession because we love dogs and the great outdoors, we’d agree that protecting nature is definitely a priority. The main reason people in the city love going to visit such a place as Warden Woods is because it is a haven of natural beauty. However, making the trail passable again and adding a washroom would not detract from the natural beauty of the area. In fact, the existing parking lot is far too large, and half of it could easily be made into an additional fenced dog park, with space left over to fit in a public washroom. Since there is already a functional water line to the park, and no doubt the city workers have a functional washroom, the trail would remain a lush oasis and no additional land would be disturbed by adding another dog park and washroom.

Supporting you in providing a balanced & fulfilling life for your dog

Fluffy mixed breed with shades of brown looking at the camera with trees in the background.