Exploring the National Parks of Southern Ontario

Blog #4: Rouge National Urban Park

By N. Glenn Perrett

Photos © Lynn and Glenn Perrett

Rouge National Urban Park (RNUP) has been in the media a lot lately – and for good reason. Not only is Rouge National Urban Park more than 79 square kilometres in size (approximately 22 times bigger than Central Park in New York), but it is also Canada’s first national urban park. The massive urban park extends from Rouge Beach and Marsh on Lake Ontario in the south to the Township of Uxbridge in the north and includes the cities of Toronto, Markham and Pickering. Parts of RNUP are accessible by public transit.

Rouge National Urban Park protects a variety of habitats in this largely urban area such as meadows, wetlands, forests (including Carolinian forest) and beach. Large tracts of farmland also make up a significant part of the park. RNUP also protects the watersheds of the Rouge River, Petticoat Creek and Duffins Creek along with more than 1,700 species of plants and animals.

A variety of activities can be enjoyed in RNUP including hiking, picnicking, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, bird watching (close to 30 species of warblers have been recorded in the park), photography and nature appreciation. There is also camping at the Glen Rouge Campground. We have enjoyed walking the trails and observing the wetlands in Bob Hunter Memorial Park. This 192-hectare park honours writer and environmental activist Robert Hunter and is a special part of RNUP.


A fun place to observe birds is the wetlands at Rouge Beach and Marsh. This marsh features a boardwalk from which you can observe the birds. Nearby is the beach where you can take a leisurely stroll next to Lake Ontario. If you like to canoe or kayak you can paddle the Rouge River. We enjoyed a relaxing canoe trip on the Rouge River beginning at Rouge Beach and Marsh and paddling north to Highway 401 and back. Some of the trails that we have enjoyed hiking in RNUP include those in Bob Hunter Memorial Park as well as the Vista Trail and the Woodland Trail.

Park website:  www.parkscanada.gc.ca/rouge

Next Blog: Thousand Islands National Park

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N. Glenn Perrett is a writer and environmentalist whose book Southern Ontario's National Parks has just been published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside.

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Click here to see  Blog #3: Georgian Bay Islands National Park