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Toronto’s High Park – 5 Quick Facts You Should know

by Jun 23, 2022City of Toronto

Toronto’s High Park – 5 Quick Facts You Should know

There are a few local gems in every major city that residents and tourists alike look to as a “local staple”, a place so engrained in the fabric of the area that it becomes a landmark destination. The City of Toronto has several local hot spots that qualify, but when it comes to parks and natural areas, few places are as popular and well-known as the iconic High Park.  

Toronto’s legendary High Park, named for the hill that overlooks Humber Bay and Lake Ontario, is a unique natural and recreational park destination spanning an impressive 161 hectares of total area, making it Toronto’s largest park. It is also the last remaining area of significant size situated on Toronto’s Iroquois Sand Plain. 

Considered one of the most “significant natural sites in Toronto”, High Park offers year-round facilities, attractions and events for visitors to enjoy. 

We’re giving you a glimpse into this popular park and some of the popular offerings and attractions visitors can expect to find within. We’re taking a look at the High Park Cherry Blossoms, a few key points of interest, flora and fauna, the beloved Jamie Bell Adventure Playground and the many sports grounds located around the park. 

High Park Cherry Blossoms

High Park Cherry Blossoms
Image Credit: Flickr

Also called “Sakura trees”, peak bloom for the flowers begins in late April to early May, weather dependant. The bloom only lasts about a week, give or take, and they draw large crowds in the thousands from long-time enthusiasts and first-time viewers each year. 

The history of cherry blossoms in High Park can be traced back to 1959 when a Japanese ambassador to Canada delivered 2000 Sakura trees as a gift to Torontonians from the people of Tokyo. Most of the cherry blossom trees in the park can be found around Hillside Gardens, as well as by the Duck Pond. 

While these trees are predominantly known for their unique beauty, they are also notorious for a shot period of bloom. 

To keep informed on the stages of bloom for the cherry blossoms, follow High Park Nature Centre. There is also a Cherry Blossom Hotline where you can get informed on the progress of the blooms at 647-946-2547. 

Points of interest in High Park 

There are so many points of interest within High Park, it’s hard to choose just a few to share, but you can’t mention this iconic destination without talking about the park’s zoo, the trackless train, the High Park Ampitheatre and the historic Colborne Lodge.

High Park Zoo

High Park Zoo
Image Credit: Toronto.ca

The High Park Zoo, first established in 1893, houses eleven animal paddocks and make this point of interest one of the most popular in the park, featuring a variety of species including peacocks, llamas, reindeer, emus, sheep, bison and more. The zoo offers visitors to the park a 

Established in 1893 for deer, the Zoo’s animal paddocks have always been a popular attraction. Today, over 125 years later, the Zoo’s eleven paddocks are home to a variety of animal species from around the world including bison, llamas, peacocks, reindeer, highland cattle, wallabies, emus and sheep. The Zoo is free to the public and attracts over 600,000 visitors each year.

You can find out more about the High Park Zoo, their hours, events, attractions and animals via their official page

High Park trackless train 

The High Park trackless train offers riders a 30-minute excursion through the park, picking up new passengers as it makes its way along its route. The train operates seasonally through the spring, summer and fall from 10:30 am to dusk, weather permitting. 

Ticket fares are as follows, with some group rates available as well: 

  • Adults (age 12 to 65): $5 per person
  • Children (age 11 or younger): $4 per person
  • Older Adults: (age 66 or older) $4 per person

The trackless train is an excellent option for those with mobility issues as well, as it provides an accessible option for a scenic trek through part of the park’s grounds.

High Park Ampitheatre 

The High Park Ampithreatre is one of three Canadian Stage venues. Situated at the core of High Park, the theatre holds 1000 seats and offers park-goers a unique theatre experience, with experiences like their “Shakespeare Under the Stars” series, held each summer. 

Colborne Lodge

Colborne Lodge
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

High Park is also rich in history. A great example of this is Colborne Lodge, a summer cottage-style property built in 1837 by couple John and Jemima Howard. Within Colborne Lodge, visitors will find collections of original pieces by the couple, who were artists. Interestingly, John was also one of the city’s first architects. 

The property now acts as a hub for High Park events and other community happenings. 

You can find out what’s happening at Colborne Lodge via their dedicated page and various social media channels. 

 

Flora and fauna

Colborne Lodge
Image Credit: HighParkToronto.com

High Park’s flora is unique in its abundance of significant species. Of the 102 significant species, 4 are considered provincially rare, 9 are considered regionally rare and 89 are locally rare. 

The High Park nature website as well as High Park Toronto provide detailed listings of plant species within the park, highlighting specific local plants, their times of bloom and special features. 

Hillside Gardens is an especially popular spot within the park for garden-viewing, as it features waterfalls and two bridges, making for beautiful backdrops for nature photography enthusiasts. 

For the little ones, the High Park Children’s Garden provides keen young gardeners with the opportunity to learn and engage via programs and scheduled activity times. For more info contact Keely Forth by phone at  (41) 392-1329 or email at [email protected]

 

Adventure Park

Adventure Park
Image Credit: Flickr

One of the largest outdoor playgrounds in all of Ontario, High Park’s Jamie Bell Adventure Park Playground is situated near the park’s Duck Pond, with its entrance from Parkside Avenue. 

Not surprisingly, the Jamie Bell Adventure Playground is one of the most popular features in the park amongst its youngest visitors.

The playground itself was partially designed by children and features castle details, swings, ropes, slides and even artwork (many of which have been done by children) throughout the sprawling playground area. 

Kids are also always excited to get a cold treat from the ice cream truck that parks nearby over the summer months. 

 

A paradise for sports enthusiasts

Adventure Park
Image Credit: City of Toronto

High Park presents a mecca for sports enthusiasts, with an extensive array of fields and designated areas for sport throughout the park. 

High Park offers many sports facilities for sports enthusiasts.

Tennis in High Park is a popular option via the six public tennis courts situated in the park and the Howard Park Tennis Club, located at the eastern edge of the park, where private memberships are available. Non-members are also able to enjoy the club’s facilities, but their public-play times and access do have some restrictions. Be sure to check in with the club before your visit for all the updated details. 

In the winter months, the public tennis courts are re-purposed as the outdoor skating rink area. 

There is an outdoor swimming pool that is open in the summer months through to Labour Day. 

Visitors will find three baseball diamonds and two soccer fields located to the west of Colborne Lodge. You can get information on the required permits for these fields by contacting (416)394-5595.

The park also offers several areas of hiking grounds, trails and flat, open green space perfect for other kinds of sport and recreation.

When it comes to a one-stop-shop destination for all ages, High Park is an easy choice for locals in the community and visitors alike. A fun way to not only get the family outdoors, but also get everyone engaged and active, this iconic park has something for everyone. From spectacular foliage to historical buildings, sports grounds to unique attractions – High Park has it all!

New to High Park? Here are a few resources to help plan ahead for the perfect visit:

 

[email protected]

http://www.highparknature.org/

http://www.highpark.org/programs/ 

 

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