In the city’s central-south-east border you find the boardwalks and paths of Cherry Beach. They are replete with boardwalk & path areas for strollers, cyclers, joggers, in-line skaters and the like. You journey along these paths east-bound and would eventually end up in the Ash Bridges Bay area. Prior to reaching that location you have the option of taking the Leslie Street Spit detour instead. For the first time in my 45 years I took this path last week and was amazed at what I found. The entire land mass is composed primarily of dump-loads of concrete and rock deposited there over the years. The extent of this area surpasses even the Toronto Islands in its southern stretch into Lake Ontario. Upon reaching the end of the Spit you can turn your eyes northward and have a spectacular view of the city skyline. One can only imagine what a great front-row seat this would provide for observing a lightning storm hit the city (except of course that the location itself would be too precarious and foolhardy a perch on such an occasion).
The Spit is not always open to the public due to the nature of its construction; there are dump trucks and other construction machines constantly traversing the paths and shaping the shores. The primary hours of access seem to be after 4:30 on weekdays and also all day on weekends. While there are no permanent residents of the human variety it does play host to numerous bird species, of which the cormorant is the most prominent. These black-bodied residents cannot be missed circling the skies around the Spit but are most densely populated on its northwestern tip near the lighthouse. It does not escape even the casual observer’s notice that one particular portion of the foliage is leaf-bare from their activities.
A quick Wikipedia search reveals much to the history of this gem of the city. It has become a bird sanctuary, a possible site of commercial development, a cyclist’s mecca (though there are shuttle buses for the walking enthusiast as well), and a very secluded destination within easy reach from the city. It is approximately 5 kms in length and consists primarily of paved paths interspersed with some gravel and stone sections. Word has it that some nature enthusiasts can be spotted from time to time off the beaten paths in the process of sun-bathing au natural. If you want to know how to prepare for an excursion on the spit bear in mind the following advisements: use sunscreen, bring some water, ensure your bicycle tires are road-worthy, pack a picnic lunch, bring a friend, it’s wise to avoid standing directly underneath bird-laden habitats, clear your throat often if you should wander down a dirt path so as not to startle the nudists, and don’t forget your camera!
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