The second largest province of Canada after Quebec, Ontario is a centre spot of amazing outdoors. Also, the nation’s wealthiest province occupying about one-third of the total population, Ontario has significant access to its major forest reserves, which are abundant in lakes and rivers, making it a nature lover’s paradise.
If you plan to explore more of this geographically beautiful province, we have a well-curated list of the best hiking trails in Ontario.
The vibrant province of Ontario is outlined by Quebec in the east, Manitoba in the west, Hudson and James Bays to the north, and the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes to the south.
The varied landscape of Ontario makes it heaven’s land tracing numerous hiking trails and scenic vistas set in the most arresting locations. Exploring Ontario can put you into full-proof research to find what all the province has to offer, which in a word, is a lot!
This huge province is rich in every aspect, from being the country’s main economic pacemaker to its abundance of natural resources; Ontario plays a pivotal role in its history and growth.
Ontario has some epic rugged trails planted in the most picturesque terrains compared to other provinces. Although these hikes are of varying difficulty levels, it is eminent how hiking to these incredible places can bring a feeling of contentment.
Located beyond the city limits, slashing out the backcountry in exploration, you will come across some of the most scenic locations you might not expect otherwise.
And while some of these hikes offer you more than just beautiful dramatic vistas, you will be amazed to see how astonishingly serene these isolated places can be.
Best Hiking Trails in Ontario
Stretching from the north to the south, Ontario is filled with rugged trails ideal for people of all age groups. Boasting some of the longest trails in the country, at the backdrop of the iconic Niagara escarpment forming the backbone of the Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin Island, you will be deeply absorbed in the fascinating beauty of Ontario.
So, before you set out for your adventure expedition, below, we have listed some of the best hiking trails in Ontario you might want to consider!
1. Coastal Trail – Lake Superior Provincial Park, Wawa
Distance: 65 km
Difficulty level: Moderate to Advanced
Easily one of the most rewarding hikes in Ontario, the Coastal trail borders the Lake Superior coastline. This challenging trail stretches from Agawa Bay to Chalfant Cove, covering a distance of 65km, which might take 6 to 7 days to complete. For trekkers who might want to hike from end to end, there are various shuttle pickups available.
Along the way, you will find cobblestone beaches, climb rocky headlands and towering cliffs, and some condensed forests on the shores of one of the Great Lakes.
This well-knit hiking trail worth experiencing is its convenient chain of end-to-end sections maintained independently. This allows trekkers to plan their trek according to their preferences, so if you don’t want to hike the entire trail, you can always break it up into segments. The trail is laid out well, making it easy for hikers with little experience navigating their way through.
Camping along the coast can be one of the most enticing experiences here as you witness some spectacular scenery and glazing rivers and breathe amidst the fresh atmosphere of this remotely beautiful location. However, it is recommended to have prior experience in trekking before exploring the deeper segments of this wilderness trail.
2. Cup and Saucer Trail – Manitoulin Island, Sheguiandah
Distance: 12-14 km
Difficulty level: Moderate to Difficult
Located near Manitoulin Island, the world’s largest freshwater island, the Cup and Saucer trail offers ample sightseeing opportunities and great views of Manitoulin Island, Lake Huron, and other smaller lakes on Manitoulin. This moderately difficult trail takes around 4 hours to complete a 12 to 14 km tour, offering brilliant picturesque landscapes. The trail is quite popular and is ranked among the most spectacular hikes in the country.
There are trails to choose from, like the White Trail (5.5 km), the Blue Trail (6.5 km), or the steep climb of the Adventure Trail (0.5 km). These trails range from short 15-20 min scenic strolls to a proper 4-hour adventure climb, and while you are here, you can discover more scenic vistas stretching across the island.
Reaching the island’s highest point requires trekkers to get past steep climbs that might be muddy and slippery, so it is recommended to carry offline maps that will help you stay on the trail.
Generally considered a moderately challenging hike, the cup and saucer trail should surely be on your trail lists, for it is also a very popular spot for birding and camping.
3. Bruce Trail – Niagara to Tobermory
Distance: 900 km
Difficulty level: Moderately difficult
Located in Southern Ontario, the Bruce Trail stretches from the tip of Tobermory of the Bruce Peninsula to the Niagara River. Also, Canada’s oldest and longest marked footpath covering a distance of more than 500 miles, the trail is neither too difficult nor too easy.
Depending on your approach to the hiking trails, it may take several days (usually one month) to complete the trek on foot. For end-to-end hiking, you can always opt for accommodations at every section since camping is not always possible and is not allowed in undesignated areas.
The Bruce Trail runs along the Niagara escarpment touring you through green forests, cascading waterfalls, a vast swathe of green fields, backyards, cross country roads, provincial parks and whatnot. The trail is an amalgam of rural and urban landscape scenes transitioning from hilly rocky terrain to flat paved pathways.
The trail is most well used for day hikes so that you might find other hikers on the way. The most popular sections of the Bruce Trail are around Hamilton and Milton areas, as they offer promising scenic vistas and waterfall hikes.
Other acclaimed sections lie in Collingwood and Tobermory, sure to grab your attention in awe. The Bruce Trail is for sure one of the best Ontario hiking trails.
4. La Cloche Silhouette Trail – Killarney Provincial Park
Distance: 78 km
Difficulty level: High difficulty
Here this trail right here is one scenic trail of challenging difficulty. Killarney provincial park, also known as the crown jewel of the Ontario park system, offers the most wilderness-filled hiking experience unveiling its rugged and strenuous chain of trails that form the trail circuit around the La Cloche Mountains. Located in Northern Ontario, this rugged trail of 78 km takes around a week for hikers to complete.
If you are an experienced hiker ready for some good challenge-filled backpacking hike, this is where you should be. Numerous steep and rocky sections mark the trail, so ensure you have carried along all necessary gears before embarking on this journey. While diving deep into the wild, don’t forget to look for wildlife.
You might find some daunting bald eagles here. You must plan your trip prior as there are numerous creek crossings and long pathways to deal with. Additionally, there are 54 campsites scattered across this Ontario hiking trail that require permits beforehand.
The trail begins and ends in the George lake campground, which continues in a loop, and as you embark on your hiking journey, you will find yourself trekking over rocky hills, admiring the most breathtaking views of Ontario.
5. Top of the Giant Trail – Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Thunder Bay
Distance: 22 km
Difficulty level: Difficult
Located east of Thunder Bay, the Sleeping Giant provincial park is one of the premier hiking destinations in Ontario. To reach the iconic Top of the Giant Trail, you must first trek along the Kabeyun trail and the Talus lake trail, leading you to this attraction at the Sleeping giant.
It may take around 6 to 7 hours to complete this round trek depending upon your approach. Although you can also climb up a few sections using the biking trails, it is recommended for you to climb steep climbs by foot due to uneven terrain that must be climbed carefully.
This challenging trail tours you to the top of some of the tallest cliffs in Ontario. While you can’t call this trail a real coastal hike, you will alternatively experience stunning views of Lake Superior and discover some of the most beautiful lookouts in the province.
Worth all the effort put in, and this trail is sure to take your breath away. The lookout at the trail end will have you absorbed in the panoramic vistas of the Lake, the towering giant cliffs and the lush green forest below.
6. Coastal Hiking Trail – Pukaskwa National Park
Distance: 60 km
Difficulty level: Moderately Difficult
This wilderness national park is enriched with backcountry scenery as it remains majorly undisturbed by humans. Located in the remotely beautiful Pukaskwa national park, the trail follows a rugged shoreline leaving you exposed to the surrounding hills and cobblestone beaches.
This 60 km moderately difficult trail navigates you through stream hiking, cobble beaches, and inland hiking, which is quite challenging. Still, if you can make it, you’ll be amazed to discover the fine shoreline of Lake Superior.
The Pukaskwa coastal trail receives around 10,000 visitors every year, making it quite a new and unexploited national park in Ontario. It takes 5 to 6 days to absorb this place’s beauty fully. You will also find enormous campsites along the coast that can’t get any better. However, you need prior permits to access them.
The trail stretches from Hattie Cove to the North Swallow River in the south. The first leg of this trail takes you through the White river suspension bridge that stretches 23 metres over the running waters of White River and Cigamiwinigum Falls. Collectively, this trail is a treasure in itself, offering you the greatest of what Ontario has.
7. Bluff Trail – Awenda Provincial Park
Distance: 13 km
Difficulty level: Easy to Moderate
An idle trekking trail for beginners, due to its nominal elevation gain, the Bluff trail leads you to the beautiful deciduous forests, which are the largest chains of old-growth forests in the country. Known for its variation in plant life, Bluff trail has a perfect show of nature in the colours of autumn. You will find wildflowers of different kinds, from red, white, orange and even painted trilliums.
Two hours north of Toronto, near Penetanguishene on the Georgian Bay, lies the Awenda Provincial Park. The Bluff trail is circular; visitors can choose their tracks according to their walking ability.
Ideally, this trail is simple and short, covering a distance of 13km, encompassing some serene, magical landscapes of the Georgian Bay. However, the trail is composed of four loops that extend the possibility of a longer hike.
An ideal day trip destination that takes not more than 4 hours to tour, visitors can ideally choose this hike during the autumn experience as it is another magical experience to hike here during the season.
During the fall season, the trail track is covered with auburn leaves which look mesmerizing. Furthermore, birdwatching can be one of those top activities you can engage in while exploring Ontario’s scenic beauty at Awenda.
8. Mizzy Lake Trail – Algonquin Provincial Park
Distance: 11 km
Difficulty level: Moderate
This trail is perfect if you plan for a day hike. Within the limits of Algonquin Park, this trail sets out on a journey crossing a series of small lakes and 9 beaver ponds, making it quite an ideal trekking spot for nature lovers.
Mizzy Lake trail has some of the most picturesque vistas, boreal forests and ponds, which are residential homes to a number of beavers. It takes almost an entire day to fully utilize your visit here, as you might be lucky enough to spot wildlife here, predominantly beavers and otters.
Mizzy Lake trail offers great outdoor opportunities and a terrain traverse along several pleasant lakes and ponds. However, it must be ensured that the trail runs through muddy wetlands, which require proper precaution before you set out. The trailhead is located on Highway 60, where you will find signs guiding you to your destination.
9. Pines Hiking Trail – Quetico Provincial Park
Distance: 10 km
Difficulty level: Easy to Moderate
Generally known as an extension of the Whiskey Jack trail, the Pines hiking trail is a moderate hike offering short steep climbs and sandy beaches surrounded by pine trees. You can access this trail from the Dawson Trail campground towards the northeastern part of the Quetico provincial park.
As the name suggests, the trail features tall red and white pine trees in its pristine wilderness. These gigantic trees guard the sandy beach. As you continue your hiking trip, you’ll find many more opportunities to discover the park’s tangled network of lakes and the popular Pickerel lake or look out for rare glimpses of wildlife.
10. Silver Queen Mine Trail – Murphys Point Provincial Park
Distance: 2 km
Difficulty level: Easy
If you are deeply drawn to historical places, this is one of them. The Silver Queen Mine Trail is located in Murphys Point Provincial Park near Perth and is mainly popular for its mica mine, where work began from 1903 until 1920.
Presently, the mica mine remains partially operational but attracts visitors in huge numbers. You might also like visiting the old bunker house where the mine workers used to take shelter.
This trail can promise a good day hike with family as it takes not more than an hour to complete. However, this short and fun trail also offers opportunities for birding, hiking and also mountain biking.
Generally visited by family groups for its incredible history and exceptional scenery, the silver queen mine trail is one of the most popular attractions at Murphys Point. This trail is fairly easy, with clear paths and almost negligible inclination at few spots. You might find small lakes along the route and let yourself be absorbed in the serenity.
Ontario has a never-ending chain of hiking trails, surpassing the others. Whether for a day hike or a multi-day hiking trip, the list for trek enthusiasts is unending. While most of these trails are close to main cities like Ottawa and Toronto, you can further go beyond city limits to discover some of the most serene, undisturbed places.
Whether the trail takes you through rocky terrains, muddy wetlands or towering cliffs, you will be amazed to see how boundless nature can be.
There are numerous hiking trails; to name them individually has never been so baffling. While we already have a nice list above, you can also consider checking out a few others, like the ones in Point Pelee national park, Canada’s second smallest but ecologically most diverse, or the Rouge national urban park.
You’ll be stunned by these places and all they can offer you. So don’t wait for long; pack your backpacks immediately and set out for your favourite hiking trail.
10 Alluring Reasons to Visit Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
Point Pelee National Park – 6 Charming Facts About The Park
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