Highland Creek Trail Walk: Morningside Park to East Point Park

This trail walk starts in Morningside Park, Toronto’s largest park by area, through Colonel Danforth Park, and winds southward along a continuous forest corridor leading to Lake Ontario. Along the way you’ll see views of the Highland Creek valley, naturally eroded cliffs, the Highland and Morningside Park forests (both of which are recognized as Environmentally Significant Areas), and if you’re lucky, you may spot wildlife like a white-tailed deer or red fox.

The trail starts off following a narrow and winding Highland Creek, where the river banks are often bordered by large rock and sandy areas. In the fall, this is a great place to catch a glimpse of the salmon run, in which salmon swim up stream to spawn. To celebrate this event, the Don and Highland Creek team at TRCA organizes an annual Salmon Festival in Morningside Park, now in its seventh year. This year’s event will take place on October 2.

Highland Creek


As you walk along the trail, you’ll notice several native and invasive species of plants and wildflowers. Note how high the invasive European common reed (Phragmites) tower over the speed sign in the photo below!

Phragmites along the road




Highland Creek with flowers


The photo below shows the toll that strong water flows have on Highland Creek. These flows have eroded the bank so much that some concrete pipe infrastructure has fallen into the creek.

Erosion along Highland Creek


Signs of erosion are especially common in the sandy bank areas of Colonel Danforth Park. Soil erosion continues to be an issue in Highland Creek, which is affected by variable streamflows, bank erosion and some risk of flooding. Several of these erosion scars can measure 30 to 70 cm high.

As you can see in the next couple photos, erosion has led to an unnatural widening of the channel, causing water to flow as a thin sheet over a broad area. In the photo below, notice how the trees on the left side have fallen into the valley.

Erosion along Highland Creek


Erosion along Highland Creek


Found along the trail was this giant ichneumon wasp! It may look like it has a terrifying stinger, but it’s actually a very long ovipositor used for egg-laying. Her powerful needle-like ovipositor is strong enough to inject itself into live trees or logs so she can lay her eggs.

ichneumon wasp


Bridges along Highland Creek


While the trail is for the most part litter free, you do see some debris along the way, like this discarded Toronto Sun box.

Litter along Highland Creek


An overhead utility pipe crosses over the path. These pipes are usually conduits for telephone and fiber optics lines.

Utility pipe over Highland Creek


A scenic walk to East Point Park along this bridge, passing underneath the GO Train tracks.

Go train tracks over Highland Creek


East Point Park gateway


Make your way down to the beach at East Point Park. This 55-hectare park along the water’s edge is a great place to stop for lunch or spot some interesting wildflowers and birds, such as bobolinks, meadowlarks and savannah sparrows, which prefer meadows to woodland. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can continue your walk along the Waterfront Trail.

Lakeside trail in East Point Park


For more ideas on how to enjoy the great outdoors, visit the TRCA Activities page of our website!