Muskoka is home to one of Ontario’s best-kept secrets. Outdoor enthusiasts will love Hardy Lake Provincial Park. With a lovely lake, terrific hiking pathways, and Instagrammable boardwalks, this park is one of the best hiking places in Muskoka.
With only 808 hectares, Hardy Lake Provincial Park is one of Ontario’s smallest parks (2 000 acres). However, it compensates for its lack of size with exceptional features. Like many other cottage communities in Muskoka and Ontario, the park and the Hardy Lake shoreline are rich in Gneiss, a characteristic Canadian Shield rock. Everything here, from massive boulders to lengths of smooth granite surface going out into the lake.
Many Atlantic coastal plain plant species and a piece of the historic displaced Georgian Bay shoreline remained when the former Lake Algonquin drained. This contributes to the park’s incredible biodiversity, making it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts eager to cross-species off their bucket lists.
Where Is It?
Hardy Lake Provincial Park, located approximately east of Torrance on Highway 169, is home to the Hardy Lake trails. There are no facilities in this park. Camping, bicycling, and driving motorized vehicles are prohibited.
The Best Way To Get There
The park is located in Muskoka, Ontario, Canada, in the Muskoka Lakes area. It’s about 15 minutes out of town, 17 kilometres west of Gravenhurst along Highway 169. Alternatively, 4.5 kilometres east of Torrance.
Along Highway 11, Hardy Lake is about 2 hours and 15 minutes north of the city. If you’re considering a road trip from Toronto, this fantastic park should be on your list.
History Of Hardy Lake Provincial Park
Hardy Lake was originally Indigenous land since Canada’s First Nations inhabited the province of Ontario 9000 years ago. It’s vital to remember the darker aspects of Canada’s past, especially while visiting provincial parks. Around the 1600s, when Europeans first arrived in Canada, organized colonization began to displace First Nations.
Racism, discrimination, and marginalization continue to plague Indigenous peoples in Canada. The legacy of colonialism may still be seen today. To discover more about Canada’s Indigenous past and the current consequences of colonization, see my blog concerning the lack of Indigenous representation in Canadian tourism and the Truth and Reconciliation report.
It’s vital to remember Hardy Lake’s Indigenous history when visiting. The Williams Treaty, signed in 1923, and the J. Collins property acquisition, signed in 1785, encompass the region today. The Anishnaabeg, especially the Ojibway, Chippewa, and Odewa peoples, claim Hardy Lake as their ancestral homeland.
What Is There To Do In Hardy Lake?
Several nearby waterfalls are Wasdells, Muskoka Falls and Trethewey Falls. Take your chance in Bracebridge, where you will find another 3-fall falls! Enjoy an autumn drive – Make sure you take some time out of your trip to Hardy Lake.
Hiking Trails In Hardy Lake Provincial Park
Hardy Lake has several moderately challenging and challenging routes that are well marked and highly trafficked. They’re gentle for me since the trails are all very high in elevation. You must be aware of your surroundings; certain pebbles are slick, and you may trip on a root. The Loop Trail is 3 kilometers long. This walk is leisurely and takes an hour or more to complete, with several pleasant locations to stop for lunch or a dip in a lake. The longest routes are seven and eight kilometers long loops.
Hiking at Hardy Lake Provincial Park is also enjoyable because of the numerous boardwalks connecting one stretch of coastline. Frogs bobbing in the water, a hawk flying out of the forest canopy, and even a brilliant green Polyphemus Moth caterpillar can all be seen along a couple of the boardwalks.
Hardy Lake Provincial Park: Picturesque Hiking trails
Hardy Lake Provincial Park is one of Muskoka’s best-hiking destinations. The Loop Track, the Eastern Loop Trail, and a shorter 3-kilometer trail appropriate for beginning hikers are the three hiking trails near Hardy Lake. Hiking around Hardy Lake will take you through various landscapes, from cedar woods to sections of Muskoka’s famous Precambrian granite.
A diverse range of Atlantic coastal plain species may be found in the park. Because much of modern-day Ontario was formerly submerged beneath several glacial and post-glacial lakes, these animals have adapted to their new environment. When the old Lake Algonquin dried up, it left behind a surviving population of Atlantic Ocean shoreline plants. A misplaced portion of the Georgian Bay shoreline may also be seen in the park.
3 Hiking Trails Of Hardy Lake Provincial Park
a) The Loop Trail
This trek around Hardy Lake is quite beautiful. The route winds through forests and up and down slopes. It frequently provides views of Hardy Lake. A cool boardwalk leads over and through a little island just over midway. The route then crosses a slow-flowing brook.
A boulder deposited by glacial retreat was found at the end. It’s always fascinating to witness something unusual in nature.
The Hardy Lake loop is a well-kept route. It is a seven-kilometer trail and gains 193 meters in altitude.
b) The Eastern Loop Trail
This trail is not very well trafficked. It begins where the other route finishes and continues east. It’s like playing hide & seek or Marco Polo with white trailblazers the entire time.
The Eastern Loop was 9 kilometers long and had a total height gain of 233 meters. In the winter, definitely wouldn’t suggest this trail unless you’re seeking a challenge.
c) Short Trail
The Hardy Lake Short Loop trek is a shorter option for less experienced hikers, but it does not take you to the tiny secret island.
The trail is 3 kilometres long.
Can You Swim In Hardy Lake Provincial Park?
It is breathtakingly gorgeous, with a stunning lake view. You’ll be looking for some calm and natural locations while swimming across the lake. It takes around fifteen minutes to cover the distance. The rock is visible beneath the lake.
Best Time To Visit Hardy Lake Provincial Park
There are many possibilities to explore the trails and villages in the region all year long, thanks to the pleasant summer weather and a variety of winter activities.
The route, however, is supposed to be best visited in the fall since it leads through forested trails with everything from charming moss-covered rocks to areas of hundreds of mushrooms. The brightly coloured trees that line the coast are wonderfully mirrored in the fall. You’ll occasionally find yourself strolling along the rocky shores of the tranquil and sparkling lake.
Tips Before You Go
a ) Dress in Layers
Because the weather in Ontario may change fast, it’s best to dress in layers if you plan on spending the day outside. This aids with tick avoidance! Even in the summer, long pants are often recommended for hiking.
b) Pack your Swimming Essentials
You have the option of diving into the water. The rocky shoreline provides excellent swimming opportunities, with specific areas better than others.
c) Pack Water
There aren’t many amenities at Hardy Lake. There’s nothing on the trails after the parking lot and a big signpost. As a result, you should pack whatever water you may require for your trek.
d) Wear Good Footwear
Just be sure to wear good shoes. The trails can be slippery and quite muddy, so suitable footwear is necessary.
e) Be Aware Of the Restrictions
Hunting and motorized vehicles are not permitted in the park. In addition, camping is not permitted in the park. You may canoe and kayak on the lake, and there’s even a launch site.
f) Read The Hiking Tips
It’s critical to know how to interpret blazes when hiking. Blazes are the path markings that show you where to go. Before trekking, read the hiking tips, especially if you’re a rookie hiker.
- Because Hardy Lake is a closed park, there is no visitor center or facilities. There is, however, a portable toilet on site. Although it isn’t very huge, there is a parking lot, and street parking may be tricky. Check the latest parking information from the municipality before you depart.
- There are also no restrooms, so prepare accordingly.
- There are no trash cans along the road, so please carry your food in and out. It’s simply a wonderful place to go for a trek, get some fresh air, and get out before dark!
Need To Know When Visiting Hardy Lake Provincial Park
Hardy Lake Provincial Park is modest compared to the rest of the region’s protected areas. However, we think the museum is worthy. These paths go all the way around Hardy Lake and even touch Lake Muskoka.
There is a snow trekking area open throughout the summer season, but only at the beginning of the day. It may turn out to be another exciting and lovely day! No fires or camping are permitted. Jumping into the water is simple.
Do You Have To Pay To Get Into Hardy Lake?
On entering from Highway 18 to Highway 169, you’ll arrive in Gravenhurst. It is located east of Torrance. Those who travel along the route are on the right. You get into the car park – free – but this could be full according to seasons.