It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that we’re living in a golden age of hiking. People everywhere have found a new appreciation for the great outdoors, and only need the slightest excuse to lace up some hiking boots and head out into the woods. Whether you’re living in a condo in Toronto or a farmhouse outside Thunder Bay, you’ll find the best hikes in Ontario are well within reach. Let’s have a look at the six best places to go hiking in Ontario.
Ontario is a big province, the second largest in Canada just behind Quebec. Ontario’s size comes with its own pros and cons, the pros being there’s a lot of country to explore and the cons being you have to travel a good distance to see it all. Unless you’ve invested heavily in Ontario real estate all across the province, you’re going to have to do some long-distance driving to get to the top spots. You might think all the best hikes are to be found out west and in the north of the province, and though the largely untouched land of northern Ontario is beautiful to say the least, southern Ontario has more than a few places well worth a visit. For the best experience pack your waterproof hiking boots.
Niagara Glen Trail
Niagara Falls is known for its great wall of water that plummets hundreds of feet and draws in millions of tourists each year. But what happens to all that water after the waterfall? Well, it flows into a pristine gorge that you can explore at your leisure all throughout the year. The Niagara Glen Trail has over 4 kilometres of walking paths that will take you through old Carolinian forests that you can’t find nearly anywhere else in Ontario. This is an easy hike best done in the Fall when it’s the changing leaves that will leave you breathless rather than any hard climb. For anyone living in the GTA, the Niagara Glen Trail is a must see at least once a year, and it’s only an hour and a half away!
Bridal Veil Falls Trail
Take a trip out to Manitoulin Island to see one of Canada’s lesser known waterfalls. The Bridal Veil Falls trail is an easy and picturesque hike along a forested stream with quite a rewarding view at the end. Over the years the falls have carved a nearly perfect half-moon bowl out of the rock, giving the hike an otherworldly feeling. It’s not a long march up to the falls either, just a little over one kilometre. Once you’ve seen the falls, you should explore nearby hikes on the rest of Manitoulin Island, especially its namesake lake. Imagine that: a lake on an island in a lake.
Cheltenham Badlands Trail
If you live in Ontario and you want to see badlands without heading all the way out to Alberta, you’re in luck. Ontario has its very own badlands pretty close to home for anyone living in the GTA. Only about an hour away from Toronto, the Cheltenham Badlands are a must-see. Long ago the top soil and vegetation that normally covers most of Ontario was stripped away, revealing rolling red folds of stone unlike anything you’d normally see in eastern Canada. The trails are pretty short here, but if you want more of a walk you can hike along parts of the Bruce Trail which connects with the Badlands.
Lion’s Head Lookout Trail
Now this trail is the real deal and not for inexperienced hikers. Hikers seeking Lion’s Head Lookout must travel out to the Bruce Peninsula that juts into Lake Huron. Already located in a picturesque corner of Ontario, the Lion’s Head Lookout Trail leads you higher and higher through four miles of pristine forest till you come upon an overlook of Georgian Bay. For Ontario hikers looking for a bit more of a challenge, we highly recommend you make this trail a top priority.
La Cloche Silhouette Trail
By far the most strenuous trail on this list, La Cloche Silhouette Trail is situated in Killarney Provincial Park on the shores of Lake Huron. This trail forms a nearly 80 kilometre loop that will take you past mountain lakes, rocky slopes, and pine forest. It’ll take a lot out of you and leave you sore and tired every night, but the beauty here is unparalleled. Give yourself at least four days to complete the loop if you’re trying to do it all at once, and be sure to pack light. Good luck!
The Bruce Trail
The Bruce Trail is a once-in-a-lifetime hike mostly due to its length. Stretching from Niagara Falls to Tobermory, the Bruce Trail is 900 kilometres of unbroken trail that you’ll not soon forget. You’ll want to pack the best hiking shoes for this one. This trail passes through many of the hikes we mentioned in this article, meaning if you’re an avid Ontario hiker you’ve probably already been on parts of the Bruce Trail. Just like the Appalachian Trail in the United States, hiking the whole of the Bruce Trail is a testament to the spirit of any hiker. If you stay dedicated, you can walk the full 900 kilometres in about a month. If you’ve got the time and inclination, go for it.