If you are a resident of Toronto and a frequent commuter on the northbound Don Valley Parkway (DVP), I’m almost sure you have seen a rainbow at least once. I’m talking about that rainbow tunnel on the right side of the expressway, near the Lawrence exit, that drivers often pass by. It is colourful and conspicuous and certainly would have attracted anyone’s attention, but most drivers probably keep going without giving it a second thought. After all, it’s just another familiar scene you see on your daily commute, no?
I was curious. I wanted to find the exact place where that rainbow resides and find out how close I could get to it. It seemed so far away from the DVP, you know…as if it’s really a real, unreachable rainbow. In reality, it’s literally right next to the expressway – I just needed to figure out how to actually get there.
I did have a hidden agenda though, and that was to finally fully experience the beauties of the fall foliage along the Don River on both sides of the DVP, which are now covered in gorgeous patches of red, orange, and yellow. With an awesome hike that was achieved in the Crothers Woods (which is also close to the DVP, a bit more south) last week, I couldn’t wait to see where my search for the rainbow would lead me! After a bit of research and some luck with the weather, I set out on a quest for the rainbow, which led me to my entry point – Moccasin Trail Park.
There are so many areas to enjoy our blessed green space in Toronto, and I was determined to visit as many of them as possible before I leave the country again. The weather was slightly threatening this afternoon with warnings of rain, but the sun was still shining when I headed out the door, so I took the chance. After a 15-minute drive, I parked my car in the parking lot at the end of Moccasin Trail and found an entrance to the park. And wow. To say I was impressed at the scenery would be an understatement. The smell of autumn, the sounds of silence, the vibrant colours that adorned the foliage – what a delicate treat for my five senses! 🙂
At one point I felt like I must have jumped into a landscape painting. The “park” was essentially a short, narrow trail surrounding what I believe was an artificial pond. There was no wind that day and the water was very calm, giving me the perfect opportunity to capture a beautiful reflection of this hidden gem in the city.
This reflection photo is one of my favourites of the hike. I had wanted to travel up to Algonquin Park during the fall season, like so many other people did, but I realized that to enjoy what the season has to offer, you don’t necessarily have to go very far at all. All these parks, trails, and gardens in Toronto are so easily accessible without a 5-hour drive. Even just driving along the DVP or the 401, you will notice the changing colours right in front of your eyes, and beauty is so close to home.
Oh right, I haven’t forgotten about the quest for the rainbow. I took a turn at one point in the park where I found a tunnel that went right under the DVP, leading to the East Don Trail (which isn’t really part of Moccasin Trail Park anymore). I walked a bit further, and a bit further, and…look what I found! Even from a distance, I caught a glimpse of the splash of bright colours, and there it was, the arc! Interestingly it was missing one colour, though if you really want to be technically correct, the colour spectrum isn’t even limited to the “seven” colours anyway. In any case, the rain hasn’t arrived yet but the rainbow has already shown itself. Hurray!
I never thought I’d be able to go up so close to the rainbow. It always seemed so small from the expressway but when I stood right next to the rainbow tunnel, it felt magnificent. Is this the “end of the rainbow” that everyone has been looking for? 😛
Cross over to the other side of the tunnel to continue on with the East Don Trail, with a bridge bringing you to the other side of the Don River.
On the bridge, turn around to see the Rainbow Tunnel again. The way the bridge is set up makes it seems like it is a “Path to the Rainbow”, bringing about a flash of hope even when the sky was starting to turn gray.
And here is the Don River as seen from the bridge, accompanied by the autumn colours. In my 15+ years as a resident of Toronto I had never ventured into the green space situated on the Don Valley strip until this year. It’s hard to believe that the DVP is RIGHT there, but when you hear the sound of cars passing by, there is no mistaking it.
Of course, just because the fall colours cover the air mostly in various shades of orange, red, and yellow, that doesn’t mean I didn’t see any other colours. Green is surprisingly still aplenty in the woods, and I saw many different types of wild flowers and plants as I walked the trails. This little blue flower proudly stood out from the warm colours, showing off its unique beauty despite the presence of the red giants.
Further along the East Don Trail I saw an owl…made of metal. I think it was enjoying itself and like me, was glad that the promised rain has been gracious and hasn’t yet descended upon us. At least let me finish the hike before you arrive, please!
People always made a big deal out of seeing the leafs as the colours change in the fall season, and I think I took this for granted when I was living in Toronto. Changing colours seemed to be such an ordinary part of the course of nature that I never took the time to fully experience and feel the beauty of it. I think the first time that I became enchanted by autumn was three years ago in Louvain-la-Neuve, and subsequently I spent the next two Octobers in Louvain-la-Neuve.
The scene of orange-red maple leafs against the blue sky is one of my favourite colour contrasts. I am so thankful to have the chance to be reacquainted with my city of Toronto and have the luxury of spending the fall season here this year.
Eventually I had to walk back to the parking lot, which meant that I had to retrace my steps and go through the first tunnel that I mentioned earlier (not the Rainbow Tunnel). This one was covered in graffiti and reminded me of the one in Louvain-la-Neuve that connected the lake to the residential areas. I had always been skeptical about dark tunnels, but after walking through this one and the Rainbow Tunnel, they don’t seem that bad anymore…under the sunlight, at least 😛
I enjoyed my walk in Moccasin Trail Park (which happened yesterday) so much that I had to immediately write about it before I forget about the details. There were many other lovely places that I have had the chance to explore (Crothers Woods, Wilket Creek, David Balfour Park, etc.) within the past few months. I would like to write about them in the future but in the meantime, why not enjoy some photos of Toronto?