Whether you’re just out for a casual stroll or looking for a good day training on a steep trail, these 10 trials will get the blood flowing. Winter is a great time to start hiking, just be sure to bring the appropriate footwear, clothing, food and phone.
How many of these must-see Ontario trails have you completed? Visit Ontario Parks to make reservations.
Pic Island Overlook Trail
Neys Provincial Park: Hike up this rustic roadbed to the pagoda and enjoy a spectacular iconic view of Lake Superior. Stand in the place where Lawren Harris of the Group of Seven captured and immortalized Pic Island in his sketches and paintings. Capture your moment, then sit next to the artist’s easel (interpretive panel) and read more about the Group of Seven.
Distance: 4.5 km one way, 9 km return
Difficulty: intermediate/advanced (due to steep steady climb uphill)
La Vigilance Trail
René Brunelle Provincial Park: The path follows the shoreline of Remi Lake through the boreal forest, with views out across the lake. One shoreline opening looks out at Airplane Island, home of a 1920s floatplane base for fire-spotting aircraft. Forest fire-fighting was in its infancy in the 1920s, and airplanes has only been around for a couple of decades, but the deadly Matheson Fire of 1916 caused Ontario to create a fire-fighting organisation. “La Vigilance” refers to being on the lookout for forest fires.
Distance: 5 km
Tulip Tree Trail
Rondeau Provincial Park: This barrier-free trail provides a close up look at Rondeau’s beautiful old growth Carolinian forest. Hikers will be awed by the towering Tulip Trees and be surrounded by rare southern species like Sassafras and Shagbark Hickory trees. This trail consists of many boardwalks where you can stop to get a great look at the sloughs and the wildlife that inhabit them. Birdwatchers flock to this trail in May to enjoy the songbird migration and hope to catch a rare glimpse of the endangered Prothonotary Warbler in its prime breeding habitat. During the summer months, it’s not uncommon to see a bright blue flash as a Common Five-lined Skink dashes across the trail.
Distance: 1.2 km
Difficulty: easy (and barrier-free!)
Lonesome Bog Trail
Esker Lakes Provincial Park: Esker Lakes is on the largest esker/moraine in Ontario. The trail circles a small, scenic boreal forest lake, crossing a treed bog at one end. Interpretive panels along the trail tell the story of the lake and bog, and point out some of the other features like glacial erratics moved by glacial ice from the far north. The mix of forest and wetland habitat are a magnet for birds – the boreal forest is known as the “songbird nursery.”
Distance: 1.5 km loop
Footprints in Time (FIT) Trail
Bonnechere Provincial Park: The trail follows the meandering Bonnechere River. The trail features very innovative posts or “museums-on-a-stick.” It’s a great way for kids to explore while learning more about traditional Indigenous knowledge and park history. Some of the signposts feature instructions for on the spot activities and sensory games.
Distance: 2 km loop
Fire Tower Trail
Restoule Provincial Park: This scenic trail passes through a variety of deciduous forest habitats, past streams and ponds, eventually climbing to the top of “The Bluff” above Stormy Lake (Bald Eagles have been seen flying past the edge of the 100m cliff). Gaze out over the surrounding lakes and forests (breathtaking in the fall). An historic still-standing fire tower sits atop the hill, once used to spot forest fires.
Distance: 7 km loop
Difficulty: moderate (several steep rocky climbs)
Sharbot Lake Provincial Park: Follow this trail along the ridge of land that divides Black Lake and Sharbot Lake. Hike through stands of maple, oak and birch and see a dramatic change in topography. From the top of the ridge, you can see both lakes.
Distance: 1.2 km loop
Logging Museum Trail
Algonquin Provincial Park: This trail is like a walking outdoor museum, interactive and great for kids (they like to climb on train and the “Alligator” steam-powered tugboat). This trail is also wheelchair and stroller friendly.
Distance: 1.3 km
Difficulty: easy (barrier-free)
Pines Hiking Trail
Quetico Provincial Park: An extension of the Whiskey Jack Trail, Pines Trail takes in a sandy beach guarded by a stand of majestic old-growth Red and White Pine. Enjoy the solitude of the walk, picnic on the beaches of Pickerel Lake, or venture into the interior. The trail includes moderate to steep climbs.
Distance: 10 km
Lake of the Woods Trail
Killarney Provincial Park: A great alternate to some of the better-known Killarney trails, this one circles tiny Lake of the Woods in Killarney’s east end. For the best route, take the trail to the right as it forks, and climb up above Lake of the Woods, along rocky heights on its west side, with views of Silver Peak in the La Cloche Mountains off in the distance. After the route down, a boardwalk extends the trail to a small island in the lake.
Distance: 3.5 km
Difficulty: moderate to difficult