Rouge National Urban Park, Monarch Trail

The Monarch trail offers two distinctly different terrains to discover.  One is a quiet, dense old growth cedar forest. A natural forest floor trail weaves through cedar trees with the occasional wooden bridge elevated just above swamp areas.  The other trail section is paved, guiding visitors to open vistas of wild flowers, farmers fields and a combination of small and large trees. A breeze blowing through the flora combined with the warming strength from the sun creates a restorative scene.

The cedar forest trail

A cedar tree stands at the side of the pathway drawing attention to itself with its imposing trunk size compared to other cedar trees in its vicinity. It has somehow developed to look like seven trees converged into one.

A cedar tree, mournful in appearance, seems to have just given up. With a dried-out trunk and its branches collapsed to the ground, it has created a natural barrier protecting small animals from larger ones.   

Standing still for a moment, taking in the surrounding scenery, the sun’s rays cut through the cedars warming all it touches.  There are no sounds from surrounding communities, not a single bird’s song, not even a leaf falling to the ground. A realization of dead silence overcomes all other senses.

Occasionally a tree will put out burls as seen on this cedar tree. The burl forms as a defense mechanism to bacteria, fungi, and insects. This impressive tree burl has taken several decades to grow in size.

Is it safe to eat? Poisonous and non-poisonous mushrooms often look alike and only an expert truly knows the difference.  Consuming even a small amount could cause sickness and death is always a possibly.

Open views along the paved trail

Leaving the forest setting a paved trails cuts through open landscapes filled with colour. A selection of wildflowers, tall grasses and trees have been planted as part of the land restoration work to naturalize former animal pastures. Spring, summer and fall colours attracts native butterflies, bees and birds all the while providing an important food source.

The Little Rouge Creek winds its way down through Rouge Park intersecting with many trails. Little Rouge Creek ends just north of Highway 401 where it joins Rouge River and empties into Lake Ontario.

 “The truth is: the natural world is changing. And we are totally dependent on that world. It provides our food, water and air. It is the most precious thing we have and we need to defend it.”

Sir David Attenborough

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