Are you tired of ‘nature’ and “city-view” dog parks around Toronto? Do you want to see something a bit more unique on your next dog park visit? Does the idea of watching your dog romp around in a dog park with ski lifts in the distance intrigue you? Then you really need to visit Earl Bales Dog Park in North York!
Located just off Bathurst St and Sheppard Avenue, this dog park is nestled on the very northwest side of Earl Bales 125+ acre park.
Here are some things that I think you’ll like:
- Seeing ski lifts in the background
- A ‘quiet‘ dog park sheltered from nearby traffic and city noises
- It’s central location in the Greater Toronto Area
- It’s a medium sized fenced space – much more sizable than most dog parks found in Toronto
- Easy and clean access to drinking water nearby
- Easy transit – A 15 minute bus line away from Sheppard West Station
This dog park might not be suitable for dog owners or dogs that:
- require a dedicated small dog space
- have a very high energy dog that requires ample running space
Looking for more dog-friendly related content? You might enjoy these posts too
- Dog Park Reviews
- Dog-Friendly Day Trips from Toronto
This review is lengthy! Here are some links for you to jump to the content you’re looking for. Enjoy!
Earl Bales Dog Park Overview
Directions to Earl Bales Dog Park
This dog park is situated inside Earl Bales Park, a large 125 + acre park. If you were to type “Earl Bales Park” into your navigation app, then look forward to a 10-minute walk to get to the dog park!
Only visiting Earl Bales’ dog park? Use this parking address: 10 Don River Boulevard, North York, ON
This parking lot is the absolute closest parking lot to the dog park. It’ll save you and your dog a walk around the rest of the massive park and get you to the off-leash area sooner!
Parking at 10 Don River Boulevard is free. Based on a quick estimation, this parking lot can fit 20 cars in its lot.
That’s more than enough space for the weekday visitors, but it’s not enough during the weekends! 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM on a weekend or long weekend will be especially difficult to secure a parking spot here.
If you’re visiting Earl Bales dog park during the weekend, I’d recommend:
- visiting the dog park during off-peak weekend hours – before 10:00 AM or after 8:00 PM
- heading to the larger parking lots:
- the main Earl Bales Parking lot by the community centre (2)
- the large parking lot south of the Earl Bales Ski & Snowboard area (3)
The map below lists out all the various parking locations available at this park.
Key Features of Earl Bales Off-Leash Dog Park
Earl Bales’ off-leash dog park offers many features and amenities that you might enjoy:
1. Grassy terrain with gentle slopes. For any dog walkers that dislike gravel, pebble, or wood chip dog parks, rejoice! This is yet another natural terrain dog park. Earl Bales’ dog park offers flat, grassy open play areas. Note: There is a gentle slope as you make your way towards the northwest end of the dog park.
2. Benches throughout. This medium-sized dog park has benches located throughout the park. However, none of the benches have any shade during the afternoon.
3. Disposal bins – located by each entryway. The disposal bins are outside the dog park but they face inwards so you can still dispose of your garbage and your dog poop without leaving the dog park.
4. Lighting – In the middle of the dog park is what appears to be a single slower-powered lamp. I haven’t had the chance to visit later in the day so I don’t know how well-lit the space is. That said, it’s nice to see a lit dog park offered in the North York area!
5. Water Fountain Nearby – There is a running water fountain near both of the northern entryways. The fountain has both human height and dog height drink receptacles.
6. Varied Alcove Spaces. Unlike many standard off-leash dog parks that are rectangular, Earl Bales Dog Park is a wavy, pond-like shaped dog park.
This alcove-shaped dog park works amazingly well at dividing different types of dog pack play.
The wavy shape provides naturally protected pockets that groups of dogs likely won’t run towards. There’s definitely an opportunity for you and your dog to break away from any large packs that may form and take a break elsewhere in the off-leash area.
7. Roofed Shelters and Mature Trees for shade. This dog park has several large trees situated within the park and additional roofed shelters to provide extra shade. The roofed shelter is a particularly nice touch. The roofed shelters offers consistent shade in the afternoon, and are slightly out of the way from the popular entryways, making it a great ‘break’ area away from other social dogs.
8. Part of a larger park. For dog owners that are looking to spend some time enjoying the area around them, Earl Bales Park has plenty of beautiful walking trails. With a sensory garden, a ski hill, and plenty of picnic areas, you can quite easily spend an entire afternoon enjoying the area. that are also great for leashed walking near the dog park. Outside of the winter season, the Earl Bales Ski and Snowboard area make for particularly great viewing and picnic area as well.
9. Commercial Dog Walker Friendly. This is one of the 5 dog parks in North York that allows Commercial Dog Walkers to enter the dog park. Based on Google reviews, visitors have mentioned that there are several dog walkers that visit this park regularly.
Missing Features You Should Know Before Visiting Earl Bales Dog Park
1. There is no dedicated small dog area. Some of the Google reviews that I read about Earl Bales Dog Park have mentioned that there is a small dog area. However, I can confirm that the off-leash area is one large fenced area. There is no dedicated small dog area at this park.
2. There are no poop bag dispensers. Make sure to bring extra poop bags to this park.
3. There are no washrooms nearby. Make sure to use the washroom before visiting this park. There are no washrooms near the dog park so if you do need to use the washroom, you may need to walk at least 10 minutes to get to Earl Bales’ Community Centre to access a washroom.
Review of Earl Bales Dog Park (Plan for 30 min to an hour)
I don’t know why but ever since this summer, I’ve been itching to visit this North York off-leash dog park. Something about the combination of seeing ski lifts in the summertime with the #dog-friendly tag in Ontario makes me just want to go “I WANT TO GO THERE WITH LIMONE”
But as with weekend priorities, meeting friends, playing video games, watching Squid Game and other hit shows, visiting new dog parks dropped down on the list of priorities. But we finally did it.
After Chu, my family’s beagle turned 7, my mom and I decided that we should celebrate her birthday by visiting a new dog park that both of our dogs have yet to explore.
We wanted to visit a new and exciting space slightly different from our usual rectangular off-leash dog parks, and something a little less rugged.
Earl Bales Dog Park fits the bill perfectly with its scenic ski hill backdrop, its gently sloped but mostly flat space, and its wavy patterned fenced area.
First Impressions of Earl Bales Dog Park (Weekday Experience)
When we first arrived at the Earl Bales Dog Park, one of the first things we noticed was how quiet it was. Sure, we arrived on a Tuesday weekday at the end of September, so there weren’t too many people visiting the park, BUT we were really surprised that much of the city sounds, traffic, and car sounds near the busy Sheppard Avenue was completely muffled by the natural geography around the dog park.
Earl Bales dog park sits on a ravine in the 125+ hectare park. It is surrounded by tall, mature trees, and just East of the park is the West Don River. Most of the traffic and city noises are completely blocked thanks to the trees, the sounds of the river, and the valley dip.
When we arrived it was almost 10:30 AM. The parking lot at 10 Don River Boulevard was more than half full and the dog park itself was moderately busy (about 12 dogs when we arrived).
Honestly, I was surprised that the parking lot was so full on a weekday! In retrospect, I now know that many hikers and visitors use this parking lot too, not just the dog owners!
The dog park is visible from the parking lot and is a short walk away. There isn’t a clearly marked footpath that leads you to the closest gate, but thanks to consistent dog park visitors, there is a dirt/mud path that directs you to the closest gate.
All three entryways into the dog park are double-gated.
There is a “main dog congregation area”
Like most other dog parks, the main entryway is where most dogs and dog owners congregate.
During our visit, there were three large groups of dogs near the main entrance that were playing and chasing each other.
If your dog has a lot of energy and likes to immediately run and be chased by other dogs, the main entrance is probably the perfect way to enter the dog park.
Limone, for example, was perfectly happy to greet the other dogs and initiated several ‘chase me’ games with the various dogs from the groups nearby.
Chu, our 7-year-old beagle, was fairly overwhelmed at the main entrance and immediately chose to start sniffing the edges of the dog park, keeping towards the perimeter of the dog park. She probably would have benefitted from entering the dog park from the slightly further, but empty side of the dog park on the northwest side.
Expect to find dog poop on the perimeter
During our visit, my mom and I had to be fairly careful as we walked around the edges of the dog park.
I’d like to think optimistically and just chalk it up to the fact that the grass was taller on the edges of the dog park, which made it harder for owners to find where their dog’s poop was.
In our two-hour stay there, I think I ended up picking up several piles of old dog poop on top of picking up after our own dogs as well.
During our stay, we were relieved to see that many of the dog owners did pick up after their dogs, but we also saw several groups of people who didn’t too.
Again, I’d like to think that this was just a series of accidents and not because of purposeful negligence. I mean.. the groups that didn’t pick up after themselves were pretty engrossed with talking with each other that most of their stay wasn’t spent looking at each other instead of what their dogs were up to. But …. I’d still like to think we were just visiting on an unlucky day!
If you look through the Google Reviews of Earl Bales Park, many folks have mentioned that this dog park is pretty well maintained and quite clean so I’d like to think that this was just an off visit for us!
That’s not to say that they were doing it on purpose, but we did notice that several groups of people were so engrossed with talking with each other, that several dog poop piles were not looked after. For anyone wondering how I knew it was their dog, we just happened to watch when everyone left!
The northwest area of the dog park is a great rest area
During our entire stay, very few dog owners or dogs visited the northwest HALF of the dog park. In fact, almost every single dog stayed in the south-eastern area.
Limone and Chu basically had half of the dog park for themselves for more than 15 minutes before a single dog decided to come up and say hello. I thought it was very strange for there to be so much unused space for a moderately busy dog park.
Considering how much grass was in the northwest area, I think this also regularly happens during the weekend too, which means the northwest half of this dog park is actually pretty great for taking breaks or for lower-energy off-leash time.
Chu actually spent most of our visit in this second area – alone, sniffing, but having a great time in her own way.
Limone spent half her time here and half her time in the main area, often using this northwest area as a time to take a break away from other dogs and to come to us for water breaks.
Intact dogs visit this park too
While it is recommended that all dogs that visit a dog park be spayed and neutered, we met an intact dog during our visit.
Thankfully though, the dog kept mostly to his own siblings and only hassled his ‘cousin’ (the owner’s son’s dog).
If you go through the Google reviews, you may see that there are a couple of reviews about this park that mentions that intact or in heat dogs may occasionally visit this park, but the majority of the reviews and encounters seem pretty rare.
Our overall experience visiting Earl Bales dog park
Earl Bales dog park is a medium-sized dog park that many nearby dog owners will likely enjoy. The mature trees and the nearby river help add to the “natural” feel of the park, and thanks to its location, it’s quite easy to relax and just spend some relatively quiet outdoor time in nature here.
I’m not the biggest fan of how much dog poop we ended up picking up during our visit but since it was only our first time visiting this dog park, I’ll give the place the benefit of doubt and assume that we just had an unlucky dog poop day!
All the dogs we encountered that day were well-mannered and played with each other.
While I’ve only visited this location once, here are some seasonal tips that I’ve found after looking through several hundred google reviews:
Spring – Probably not a great time to visit the Earl Bales Dog Park. The main dog area can turn into a mud puddle. If you don’t mind, then go for it! Otherwise, it might be better to visit a dog park with gravel or woodchips until the drier months
Summer – A great time to visit! There’s plenty of shade, a nearby water fountain to refuel, and the rest of the park means this is the best time to spend a full day or afternoon here. You may want to come early though if you’re looking to park at the nearby dog parking lot
Fall – Much like spring, you may want to make sure that there have been several days of sun or cloudy days to visit to avoid large mud puddles. Alternatively, its a good time to spend most of your time in the northwest area of the dog park where there’s still grass. If you’re here for the scenery, Fall is the best time to visit and enjoy the entire Earl Bales Park.
Winter – N/A. Surprisingly, there’s no mention of photos taken at Earl Bales Dog Park during the wintertime. I’ll likely try and visit with Limone during the winter to check things out so that we have something to say for the winter!
What Other Reviewers are Saying
Since I had to look through the almost 350+ Google reviews for seasonal advice, I figured I should give you a gist of what other reviewers have mentioned:
With 4.6 Average rating – The Park is a mostly positive experience – these are the recurring positive comments:
- Large off-leash dog park
- Love that its a big grassy space
- Beautiful and quiet location
- Love that there’s a water fountain
- Friendly people and dogs
In terms of negative or low rated stars, this is what most dissatisfied visitors had to say:
- Too crowded
- Hard to find parking
- Can be discouraging depending on the day – it’s possible for dog fights to break out
- Can be muddy, making it hard to visit this park year-round
Nearby Walking Trail Recommendations
Head to the nearby ski lifts (plan for an additional 10 – 20 minutes)
One of the reasons I was really interested in taking Limone and Chu here was to admire the ski hills and look at the ski lifts after having a good romp at the off-leash dog park.
If you leave from the southeast most gate of the dog park, the ski lifts and the hills are only a short 2-3 minute walk away.
Watching the sunset and the fall colours at the top of this hill is certainly a treat! I wouldn’t recommend hiking up the hills though unless your dog is in good shape and can handle the incline!
Note: While it might be tempting to have your dog off-leash when visiting the rest of Earl Bales Park, do make sure that they remain on a leash. By law officers regularly patrol the park to check for off-leash dogs. Fines can go upwards of CAD 365 if a dog is found off-leash outside of the designated off-leash area.
Meander through Hinder Property Trail north of the parking lot (plan for an additional 35 minute to 1 hour walk)
If you’re interested in going for a scenic leashed walk after visiting the dog park, you can definitely head north of the park lot and continue towards the Hinder Property Trail.
The Hinder area features an extensive forested ravine system, has well-paved hiking paths and is a popular location to go bird watching too.
Earl Bales Dog Park Summary
In conclusion, I think Earl Bales is a good dog park to visit if you live nearby or want to visit the space for the novelty of visiting an off-leash dog park by a ski lift in Toronto.
The dog park is a small-medium fenced-off area that is great for dogs that enjoy running, chasing and playing with other dogs. Thanks to the shape of the dog park fencing, this dog park also offers plenty of pockets for quieter, sniffing, and lower-energy off-leash dogs too.
- central location
- scenic landscape
- medium sized fenced space
- easy access to drinking water
it’s very easy to understand why this dog park is a very popular off-leash park in the Greater Toronto Area.
Despite needing to pick up a lot of other doggie doo doo, we enjoyed visiting this dog park. I plan to visit again (hopefully soon to see the fall colours) the next time I’m in the area with Limone.
What We Always Bring With Us to Dog Parks
What’s on Limone:
Depending on the situation we rotate Limone through various harnesses and collars:
- Our Everyday Harness: Julius K-9 IDC ® Longwalk Harness
- ‘Photo-Op/Meeting her Grandpawrents’ Harness: Knick Knack Paddy Whack Harness in Prime *locally made in Toronto
- ‘I’m dirty, my harness is dirty, and I need a shower so I can’t wear a harness anymore’ Collar: KONG® Comfort Weave Padded Dog Collar – we bring this with us whenever we know Limone is going to get muddy or go into the water for a swim and we can’t bother with a harness
Similarly, we rotate Limone’s leash based on our needs. These are the three leashes we use regularly:
- Everyday Leash: 4 My Merles Creations – Standard Braided Leash. *locally made in Orillia, Ontario. Here are the custom options we chose if you’d like the exact same one:
- Embroidered Handle
- Poly Webbing Color: Yellow
- Fleece Color: Red
- Fleece Color 2: Royal Blue
- Embroidery Color: Black
- ‘I’m going to get dirty and drag my leash around OR I’m going to be tied onto a doggy zipline’ Leash: Amazon’s Choice Dog Training Leash with Padded Handle – 6ft in Grey
- Long Line Lead: Amazon’s Choice 20ft Long Lead in Black
Want to see more reviews like this? Let us know in the comments below! We (Limone included) would love to explore new places and share our thoughts with you!