This northerly stretch of the Don offers a chance for a good leg-stretching walk and a chance to see the river and its valley unencumbered by rail lines, expressways or concrete strait-jackets. From Steeles to York Mills Road, the river wanders freely across its flood plain, which remains in an untended state for the entire length. This isn’t exactly wilderness, but up near the north boundary of Metropolitan Toronto it’s wild enough that on a quiet morning walk through here you can encounter fox and other wildlife.
This walk actually begins by following German Mills Creek, a tributary of the East Don. From the overpass on Leslie just south of Steeles, follow the dirt path on the south side of the creek. The path passes along a schoolyard fence and then reaches a wider and drier section of the flood plain. There’s not a lot of mature tree growth alon this side of the river; it’s mostly a matter of a few Manitoba maples and some willows gathered in clusters here and there. Shortly the creek itself makes a wide S bend, just past these curves, the path crosses under a railway trestle and, after this point, the opposite side of the valley becomes quite wooded.
Directions: Take the Steeles East 53 bus from Finch station to Steeles and Leslie. Walk south on Leslie to the bridge over the East Don. From the end point of the walk, take the York Mills 95 bus west to the York Mills station. There is no parking on Leslie, so if you drive, you will have to leave your car at a lot near the Finch station and take the bus or find parking on a side street near Steeles and Leslie.
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