I just found this out: the ravine trail south off Moore Avenue is officially deemed part of the Kay Gardner Beltline.
Having in a previous column already claimed the Mount Pleasant Cemetery-to-Allen Expressway section as a tributary of Leaside, I hereby do likewise for the more southern Beltline. Once again the gateway is the cemetery entrance on Bayview. Just bear left and left again on the road to the Visitation Centre. Don’t go all the way to the parking lot. Hang another left along the path that takes you to Moore. You might want to pause for a slurp at the archaic-looking drinking fountain near the exit. Then cross over Moore during a break in the traffic and you descend immediately into ravine-world.
The Don River will be on your right at the outset but it will crisscross beneath the trail so often you’ll be looking on the wrong side for it. You’ll be seeing quite a bit of the Don, though not a lot of rushing water by fall, and at various junctures you can get right down to it or at least right alongside it.
The Beltline Pond, though, is the first scenic highlight — almost right away, on the left. I don’t want to hear anyone calling it a “scummy swamp,” fit for crocs. No, no. Read the plaque. There is a beautiful green coating of duckweed, that feeds the mallards when they deign to stop by, and hides little fishies and froggies. It also prevents the pond from evaporating to puddle-size. You will pass beneath three bridges while walking, dog-walking, cycling or stroller-pushing southward: the first for pedestrians, the second for trains (I saw a freight train rumble overhead) and a third for drivers. Look for colorful, almost artful graffiti on some of their concrete bases. You’ll see mansions atop near-vertical embankments.
A half-hour-or-so stroll will bring you to a huge fenced-off mound of earth on your left. At its north edge is a side-path. It will take walkers-only on a rougher route east of the river with alternate pleasing views. Both this side-path and the main trail will take you to the Brick Works area. But let’s get back on the main trail.
As you’re nearing the Brick Works, you’ll see a couple of paths on the opposite (west) side: one dirt path up a very steep hill, a challenge for any cross-country runner in training that’s for sure, and then another one ascending more gently — until you hit 80 wooden steps and a dozen stone steps that take you up to Chorley Park. If you’re not in high-energy mode, skip this.
Along the main trail there are two entrances to the Brick Works. The first connects you with winding pathways around and beyond the big pond, also duckweed-covered. The second is a metal stairway down into the heart of the Brick Works complex. Washrooms in Building 1. Water fountain at the east end of Building 5.
Re-ascending to the Beltline trail, you could continue south for some ways. The trail will take you around the bend that skirts a Bayview extension exit. Soon, a fork: one path ascends very steeply and puffingly westward, but it’s fairly short. The other follows another part the river northward for quite a distance. Rosedale neighborhoods wind up on both prongs of the fork. Did someone say “Rosedale neighbourhoods?” That’s where my jungle safari ends. Time to leave the colonies behind and head back to the Leaside mainland and civilization.