Ahhh … At last! This one has been on my todo for a long time. A lot of people launch at Cherry Beach but this didn’t appeal to me, for whatever reason what interested me, not that I have a perfect explanation for it, was on the west end of the island. So I had seen a previous post on facebook that said you could easily launch at Harborfront Kayak and Canoe rentals so we set about checking it out. The folks at Harborfront Canoe and Kayak center were unbelievably helpful. They even pulled by boat (after asking) right up on the dock when I got back. To find them head down to the end of Rees st and they have a nice smooth dock ready for you to launch and take out on. I have to admit, I was skeptical, but it really was more than I could have hoped for. We chose a weekday to avoid busy traffic. Parking was literally across the street and only cost $20 even on a weekday, which I was forewarned about. I have no issue with it, it is downtown Toronto.
Ok so it’s worth starting by talking about Toronto harbor. It’s a VERY busy place with lots of big boats, not the least of which is the ferry. It is a federally controlled harbor, meaning you need a harbor pilots license to operate in it … kayaks are exempted (I am pretty certain). It’s worth noting that Toronto Marine police operate out of this location so it’s worth insuring you have all of your safety list on board. I hadn’t bothered with a throw rope, but grabbed one off Amazon to avoid any hassles.
It’s next worth noting there is an exclusion zone around the airport marked clearly by large white buoys. Violating this space and the fine could be as high as $10K. And yes, I asked, that includes kayaks.
The trip across the harbor is the most challenging part of this trip. Not a chance that ferries are moving for you, there’s lots of tourist boats, and as much as sail boats under power do not have the right away, the problem with being dead right, is your still dead. Waves can come at you from any direction in the harbor, so keep an eye, and as always, hit larger waves at 90 degrees. It took us about 20 mins to cross the harbor and make our way over to the island. Inside the island itself it is super sheltered so even on windy days you can easily explore the inner island areas.
We went all the way down and even into trout pond, but frankly there wasn’t a lot in trout pond. This part of the island is super quiet with the least amount of boat traffic. There are MANY yacht clubs on the island, but by going on a weekday this was a non issue for us. This was a pretty peaceful journey with the exception of the almost constant sound of airplanes, but heh this is downtown Toronto. The views of downtown Toronto from the island are amazing.
The trip down inside the island was amazing and there were lots of places to stop by the waterside for a break or snack. We packed a lunch and stopped inside trout pond and had a bite.
Nature wise we saw some herons, lots of king fishers, turtles and the like. Not as nature filled as I had hoped but still good. I highly recommend you check this out when you can.
In 3.5 hours, and 10.6KM we only hit about half of what we could have done, the whole east end left unexplored. It’s worth noting the paddle back across the harbor will take a good deal of energy so be sure and leave enough gas in the tank. Although, I guess, worst case you could hire a water taxi to take you have but how humiliating would that be?
Map of the row
Difficulty: Intermediate to advanced due to the harbor, waves, and boat traffic
Length: It’s 1.2Km from Harborfront to the island and the same back. So then it’s up to you. We did 10.6KM
Time: We did it in about 3.5 hours, but this was a leisurely pace.
Launch Spot: Harborfront Kayak and Canoe