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Urban Jungle: Hikes and Trails in and around Toronto

The dramatic cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment—immense reminders of Ontario’s ancient past—form the foundation for Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area (Appleby Line, 1 km north of Derry Road, Milton) and the 727-acre park’s trails maximize the impressive view. The longest of the park’s four colour-coded hiking trails takes you on a 14.4 km journey that crosses through Nassagaweya Canyon on the way to the Crawford Lake Conservation area. Other features: Experienced rock climbers test their mettle on the cliffs (groups require a permit; fully equipped individuals climb at their own risk).

Nature-seeking families make the journey to Bronte Creek Provincial Park (1219 Burloak Dr., Oakville, 905-827-6911), a short drive (about 45 minutes) from downtown Toronto. Trails are easily navigable—and endurable!—ranging from a half-kilometre hike amid the beech and maple of Burkholder Woods to a 2.5 km journey that goes through a dense coniferous forest of hemlock and pine, and winds up at a picturesque ravine lookout. Other features: Kids cool off at the 1.8-acre man-made swimming pool (the deepest end is six feet) while parents picnic on the surrounding grass.

Glen Haffy Conservation Area (19245 Airport Rd., Caledon, 416-667-6295) is a nature-lover’s playground with more than 800 acres of parkland to discover. Located at the intersection of the Niagara Escarpment and the Oak Ridges Moraine, trails are varied and offer challenging topography (rock slabs, hills), which link with The Bruce Trail, Canada’s longest (850 km) and oldest footpath. Glen Haffy’s Lookout Point is renowned for its breathtaking view of the Caledon Hills. Other features: Fully stocked public trout ponds are the preferred haunts of local anglers. Rod and tackle rental is $6.90.STROLL
Keep a leisurely pace while meandering along the paved pathways of Edwards Gardens (777 Lawrence Ave. E., 416-397-1340). Here, find pleasant walking trails that wind through manicured garden spaces and a gurgling creek. Tame chipmunks used to being pampered by peanut-carrying locals add to the utopian atmosphere. Other features: The Toronto Botanical Garden, which is showing off a recent revitalization to the tune of $7.2 million. The TBG’s gardens officially open in September.

Located in Humber Bay Park East, Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat (Lake Shore Boulevard W. and Park Lawn Road) is devoted to the preservation of native butterfly species. Three spaces cater to six species—the monarch, viceroy, mourning cloak, red admiral, American painted lady and eastern tiger swallowtail. Not unlike humans, butterflies prefer calm, warm days and best spotting times are in the early morning and at dusk. Other features: The Home Garden instructs visitors on how to create butterfly-friendly habitats at home.

High Park’s (1873 Bloor St. W., 416-392-1111) lush 400 acres cover a lot of recreational ground. The park’s 150-year-old black oak trees, 40 species of rare plants (wood betony, wild blue lupine) and the lush Hillside Gardens provide sufficient distraction for the wandering horticulturalist. The stroller set tend to opt for a tour of the High Park Zoo (peacocks, llamas) and make time to ride the trackless train ($4), while sporting types bike, play Frisbee, baseball, tennis or kick a soccer ball around. Other features: The High Park Nature Centre (416-392-1748, ext. 6) leads family walking tours ($2) starting at 1 p.m. on July 4, 18 and 25.

The view from one of the craggy, grass-covered sandstone cliffs of Bluffer’s Park (Brimley Road, Scarborough, 416-392-1111) provides the perfect sunset photo. Overlooking Lake Ontario, the park also boasts a popular swimming beach.

Come first warming ray of sunlight, bathing, blading and cycling beauties head to The Beach neighbourhood to cruise the boardwalk, while families ferry over to Toronto Islands.HOME ON THE RANGE
There is nothing a jumbo basket full of golf balls and an hour or two at the range can’t cure. To find your remedy, check out these local driving ranges.

The Docks Waterfront Golf Driving Range (167 Cherry St., 416-469-5655; $13 for 68 balls) is a 75-mat range, which also has an 18-hole pro putt course. Open daily from 9 a.m.; closing time varies. Beach Fairway Golf Range (411 Victoria Park Ave., 416-686-4101; $13.50 for 110 balls) in the Upper Beaches neighbourhood, also features a practice area. Open daily from 8 a.m. to dusk.—Flannery Dean

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