Questions and Comments – My High Park

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Do you have a question or comment about High Park nature or this website? Send it to us and we will do our best to respond to you!

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Can I bike in High Park? Are there cycling trails?

You can bike in the park on roads and paved trails, but riding on dirt trails is not permitted; walk your bike instead. The soil on dirt trails is sensitive to compaction, and many of these trails are narrow, not leaving enough room for both cyclists and walkers.

Is it OK to go foraging in High Park?

Foraging (collecting any kind of plant material) is not permitted in High Park. The injury and removal of plants in public parks, forests and ravines is prohibited by the Toronto Parks Bylaw, Chapter 608.

Can I or my group do a clean-up in High Park?

Much of High Park is designated as ANSI (Area of Scientific and Natural Interest) and ESA (Environmentally Sensitive Area). That means there can’t be groups of people walking over the restored areas, which would result in compacted soil and other detrimental results. Staying on the paths except under specific conditions and guidance that protects the soft ground is essential to being able to maintain a very rare habitat.

The High Park Stewards occasionally conduct supervised clean-up activities in natural areas. Check the Volunteer Opportunities schedule for details.

Why does the City use so much salt on park sidewalks and roads during the winter?

The amount of salt applied to any given area is dependant on numerous factors such as current ground conditions, current and forecasted weather, available equipment, how a specific park area is used etc. In the end its up to very experienced city staff to use their judgement in determining the amount of salt used. Staff are reminded often that public safety and our responsibility under the property owners liability act take precedence when clearing our roads and walkways.

Salt is the most effective product on the market. Alternative products such as sand, sawdust, pickled salt, calcium chloride, salt brine etc. are all products that parks / city does consider and uses where appropriate. No salt is used on any of the trails or walkways within the dog off-leash area.

We are always mindful of the natural environment and take that into consideration at all times.

[response provided by Parks Operations staff]

If so many oak flowers fall from the trees, how are acorns formed?

The flowers that fall are the male flowers (catkins). The acorns are formed on tiny female flowers that stay on the tree.

Can I make a donation to support High Park Nature or High Park Stewards?

Neither High Park Nature nor High Park Stewards is set up to receive donations. In general, our work - including this website - is funded through money raised by the stewards' annual Native Plant Sale.

If you wish to support nature in High Park, we suggest you consider donating to the High Park Nature Centre, which is set up as a charitable organization.

We just moved to the area and I’d like to draw bats to our area to help with insect control as our backyard back onto a park and we have a lot of trees etc.

Is this something that can be done? From what I read, there’s a lot at High Park and we’re not very far away. Any insight anyone could give me would be wonderful.

Great question! We love bats here at High Park Nature and the Nature Centre, and we are always excited when others do too.

The best way to attract bats to your yard is to offer them a home. Bats love to roost in attics, roofs, and crevices in buildings, but this behaviour is not ideal for a home-owner. Another option is to build them a home! Bat boxes are ideal habitat for roosting bats. Here are some sites with information on bat boxes and how to build one:

Or, if you would rather purchase one, the has many great options.

Bats also do not like flying over open areas as they are more visible to predators, so the more plants and trees in your yard the better. Good luck!

See also Bats in High Park.

I was inspired by the lupine blooms in High Park and I want to recreate that ecosystem in my backyard. Could you recommend grasses and other groundcovers to plant around the lupines? I don't want to plant anything too high that would drown them out, but I also want to keep the ground around them planted up.

We're glad that you are interested in growing native plants. Please be aware that the native (common) lupine is actually not easy to grow because it doesn't transplant well and needs specific soil conditions. We don't recommend making lupines the main focus of your garden because you will likely be disappointed. Lupines only have a short bloom time (late May-early June) and the patches that you see in High Park have taken decades to grow and don't spread out very much. Cultivated lupines that you can buy in garden centres don't provide the same ecological benefits as the native ones.

While aesthetics are important, we hope that the primary purpose now of gardeners (aside from food) will be to plant for ecological diversity and especially for pollinators. There are many other native plants that are beautiful and bloom at different times throughout the season.

You haven't said what kind of soil and sun your garden has but that will determine what you can grow there.

Here are some resources you may find helpful:

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Trees + Shrubs



Wetland Plants

Invasive Plants