Early September to Late October (Early November) when temperatures are between 3°C to 18°C, Chinook Salmon, Atlantic Salmon, Pink Salmon and Coho Salmon migrate upstream from Ontario’s Great Lakes to lay their eggs in the shallows before winter settles in.
Here are few places to go within GTA to see the once silver coloured fish, that is now almost black in colour, making the final trip of their lives.
**Guided walks and festivals mentioned in this article are not be held this year (2020) due to COVID-19**
When to go:
Whether you will be able to see salmon during your walk, is dependent on the salmon and the weather including rainfall, and temperature. The best time to visit is from mid-September to Thanksgiving weekend in October, though this will vary depending on weather conditions.
You can observe the daily rate of migration at Credit River and Ganaraska River/Corbett’s dam, online, through the fish counter purchased by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry/Lake Ontario Management to support the Atlantic Salmon program.
Etobicoke – Etienne Brule Park (13 Crosby Avenue, Toronto)
Spot salmon making the metre-and-a-half jump (Old Mill dam) to get upstream to spawn in up the Humber River.
You can also see the Salmon making there way up the TRCA constructed fish ladder at Raymore Park Dam( 93 Raymore Dr, Etobicoke).
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Scarborough – Highland Creek (390 Morningside Avenue, Toronto) & Glen Rouge Campground (7450 Kingston Road, Toronto)
Walk from Morningside Park and follow Highland Creek. Follow the trail along Highland Creek from Morningside park to Colonel Danforth Park to Lower Highland Creek Park.
Toronto Region Conservation Authority holds an yearly “Highland Creek Salmon Festival” at Morningside Park (cancelled for 2020). Join for guided nature hikes to see the salmon running upstream as well as wildlife displays, live performances, environmental displays, local food, a farmer’s market and more!
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Another place to visit, is the trail that leads from Rouge Urban Park Parking Lot at Glen Rouge Campground, 7450 Kingston Road, Scarborough. Park your car at the parking lot and follow the Mast Trail(trail details are at the parking lot). The trail follows/crosses Little Rouge Creek / River at some areas, where you might see salmon.
North York – Don River (701 Don Mills Road/1191 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto)
Head over to Charles Sauriol Conservation Area (1191 Lawrence Ave E) to spot some large Chinook salmon fighting their way upstream to spawn near the bridge crossing to the east side of the Don river.
Another great idea for an outing is to visit Evergreen Brickworks. On weekends, Evergreen Brickworks is the site of Farmers Market and artisan markets. The weekly community event features a series of special celebrations, such as the Sunday Performing Arts Series, and a rotating roster of local makers offering products from jams, jellies and spreads to locally-made clothing and unique hand-made jewellery, wood and leather goods. After enjoying a day at the markets, walk along the Bayview Multi Use lane towards Pottery Road Bridge where you might see salmon swimming up-stream. You can join for guided walkto learn about and celebrate the great salmon migration that takes place in the Don River, one of the most urbanized rivers systems in Canada.
Mississauga – Erindale Park (1695 Dundas Street West, Mississauga) & Riverwood Conservancy Trails (4300 Riverwood Park Ln, Mississauga)
See salmon making their way up Credit River as you hike the The Culham Trail. You can also follow trails along Credit River from Riverwood Conservancy to Streetsville. Riverwood Conservancy also holds many Salmon Run related hikes and talks. Hewick Meadows Park (Credit Point Dr) is another great location. Follow the trail north from the parking lot accessible from eastbound Eglinton Avenue east of Mississauga Road to the location of where two pedestrian bridges over the Credit River.
Pickering – Duffins Creek (371 Whitevale Road, Pickering.)
See salmon making their way up on Duffins Creek.
A great venue is the Seaton Trail from Whitevale Park that meanders by the Whitevale Dam where you can see Salmon jumping up the dam. The trail can be accessed from the south end of Whitevale Park or the northeast side of the Whitevale Bridge. The Seaton Trail follows West Duffins Creek and stretches from Highway 7 in Green River through Whitevale, beneath the Taunton Road Bridge, and terminates at the 3rd Concession near Brock Road.
Greenwood Conservation Area trail (Ajax) along Duffins Creek is another great location to view the Salmon.
Bowmanville – Bowmanville Creek (35 Roenigk Drive, Bowmanville)
Bowmanville Creek fish ladderlocated along wheelchair-accessible trail Bowmanville Creek Trail (at 35 Roenigk Drive, Bowmanville) gives you another opportunity to see these awesome fish journey over the fish ladder.
Port Hope – Ganaraska River
Exit Hwy 401 at exit 464 and head to Jocelyn Street, turn right and follow it until you meet the Ganaraska River where you can experience the wonder of migration.
Ganaraska River that runs through Port Hope is one of the best places to watch silvery coho salmon and migratory brown trout jump up the fish ladder – Ganaraska River Fishway, which was constructed to help fish get past Corbett’s Dam.
Fishing is prohibitedon the Ganaraska River between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. from Aug. 15 to Sept. 30 from the Robertson Street Bridge to the Jocelyn Street Bridge.
For 2020 due to COVID-19: Access to the Ganaraska River is restricted during the salmon migration. Temporary closures include all lands and parks, under ownership of the Municipality, that border the Ganaraska River, effective September 2, 2020 until October 15, 2020. Ganaraska Millennium Conservation area, the Port Hope Conservation Area and Sylvan Glen Conservation area is closed from August 28 – October 1, 2020.
Other Places: If you really want an in-depth experience and a wonderful “Salmon” themed Fall getaway, visit Owen Sound.