I’m starting to feel summer slip away, I grab my cardigan in the morning while walking my dog, replace skirts for pants and get a little bummed out watching the temperature slowly dip on the weekly weather reports. I had to make the most of out a sunny Sunday this past weekend to enjoy a bit more of the great outdoors.We’ve had our share of SUPing to the Toronto Islands and bird sanctuary, boating around Cherry Beach with friends and trying to convince our dog to get into the lake at the dog park but have yet to venture to the Humber River. That’s where Toronto Adventures comes into play. (www.torontoadventures.ca). Based right at the river bank near the Old Mill (and within walking distance of the subway station, hey hey!) you can find them renting out canoes, SUP boards and kayaks for guided or solo adventures.
What drew me to try this experience was the chance of seeing wildlife (Ha, I know, wildlife in the heart of the city sounded a little weird to me too). The website boasted chances at coming across coyotes, deer, blue herons and my personal favourite, the beaver. I wanted to see one so badly! “What are the chances we’ll see a beaver today?” I asked the Toronto Adventures rep as we filled in our waivers. “To be honest, weekends are usually really busy on the river; the animals tend to hide a bit more”. I noted this for next time but still held out hope as I dragged my neon yellow kayak down to the shore.
The river opened up into wetlands and forest right under the mouth of a bridge, it was much prettier than I had imagined. We were instructed to paddle right, we could go further that way, have a better chance of spotting some animals.
We followed other kayakers south down the river, passing by the Humber Bay yacht club where boats with names like “Yeah, Buoy!” bobbed in the water unoccupied next to us, families BBQ’d on the shore in the distance and wooden steps lead up to houses on the hills just out of our eye sight. I wasn’t expecting the river to be this big, but turn after turn it just kept going, bringing us into wetlands covered with thick lily pads and leaves to wide expanses where laughing couples on jet skis buzzed past us.
Herons dipped their beaks into the water snapping up and unseen snack, keeping a cautious eye on us as we passed. A cormorant perched on a piece of driftwood, basking in the sun amongst the paddlers, unfazed. A few hawks flew above us, wings outstretched, large shadows casting over the river. We saw tons of interesting birds but it seemed like the other animals listed on the advertisements were, in fact, hiding.(I’ll get you next time, beavers!)
It was a little more challenging than we had thought, we had been lucky heading out to explore, going with the flow of the current, but found we were pretty tired pushing ourselves up stream on the way back. We had rented the kayaks for the 2 hours that come with the package (weekday rentals $29.95 plus tax, weekends $34.95 plus tax) but only ended up being on the water for about an hour and 15 minutes (Although, it felt much longer than that, we thought we may have even been returning them late). We covered a lot of ground and explored some quiet nooks and crannies.
If you aren’t into going alone or haven’t had instruction on how to operate a kayak you can add a guide onto your 2 hour rental for $20-$25 depending on if you’re visiting on a weekday or weekend.
I would recommend this rental company if you’re looking to explore a little more of your own backyard in the city or to simply try something new. You don’t need to rush as they are still allowing rentals into October and I imagine the changing leaves would make quite the beautiful background for a tour.
The location is also so convenient, you could walk to the shore from Old Mill subway station or if you’re driving up, they have limited but free parking (usually unheard of downtown) right nearby. The staffs were friendly and the equipment was in great shape. Although next time, we would bring a change of clothes, we didn’t think we would get as wet as we did, either from the seats or the paddles bringing water into the kayak, also, on the way out of the kayak to get back on land you’ll need to step in the water, so bring hiking sandals or an extra pair of running shoes or you’ll be ‘squishing’ all the way back home like we were.
Insider tip: I’ve seen them selling SUP rentals on Groupon for $19 at Sunnyside Beach if that’s more your speed or you’re on a budget! Either way, I’m sure each experience would be great…and if you go, please let me know if you see a beaver!
Hey! I'm Sarah! A 30 something living in downtown Toronto with a great guy and an OK dog. I love seeing what my city has to offer and try to hit up as many fun events or attractions as I can! I haven't slept since 2004.