Quality over Quantity – Ontario Hiking Trails

Ontario is Canada’s largest province by population, and by a fairly large margin! Containing nearly 40% of all Canadians, you can bet there are a whole host of dog lovers & adventurers. With regard to its outdoor scene, Ontario is best known for its gorgeous canoe routes. However, that doesn’t mean its trails should be overlooked! Here in this post, we will explore some of the best Ontario hiking trails.

From a broad perspective, Ontario may not strike you as a hiking destination. It’s highest mountain is only 693 meters high, which pales in comparison to peaks found in the Yukon, BC, and Alberta. However, this lack of elevation sets the scene for some of Canada’s longest trails! The gentler landscapes offer multi-night epics, ranging from 100 km – 800km. Just because you’re not in the freezing alpine, doesn’t mean there’s nothing to catch your eye! Ontario’s visual wealth includes the Lake Superior shoreline, dizzying escarpment, wetlands that are crisscrossed with boardwalks, and the exposed Canadian Shield. The province is laced with a multitude of adventures, but we’ve managed to shortlist our favourite Ontario Hiking trails below.

Backcountry Safety on Ontario Hiking Trails

As with any off-the-grid exploration, venturing into the backcountry can be dangerous. It is vital to go in prepared, and be ready to tackle the challenges that lay ahead. If you are looking for more detail on hiking safety, check out our previous post here!

  • Bring reliable communication — the Ontario hiking trails below will lead you through areas of spotty, to non-existent, cell coverage. Satellite GPS and phones are useful to carry on person, especially if you are leaving for multiple days
  • Pack proper gear — layers, reflective clothing, emergency survival equipment and the knowledge on how to use it
  • Time the days — know when sunset is and plan to be ready for the night before darkness sets
  • Weather — can be unpredictable, but still check ahead of time and pack accordingly
  • Bring a friend — never go alone, and choose partners who are knowledgable, experienced, and fit enough to complete the journey
  • Overconfidence — leave it at home, be realistic of your ability
  • Wildlife — be aware of what you can encounter and what to do if so, as well how to properly store camp provisions during the night
  • Communicate — let someone know where you are going, and when you expect to be back. If you are driving, leave a note on the dashboard with the same information

Remember, it’s better to ask before you leave, than be left with questions 3 days in. Do your research, train, and be prepared. Adventures are fantastic experiences, and the more you think ahead of time, the more you will be able to enjoy the moment,

Ontario Hiking Trails

1) Maple Mountain — Lake Evelyn Smoothwater Provincial Park

  • Total Distance: 40 km (paddling) + 3.2 km (hiking)
  • Time: 3-4 days
  • Difficulty: moderate

Maple Mountain is one of the most popular and well known mountains in Ontario. Standing at 350m above sea level, you’re able to get great views from the top. Speaking of the top, there is even a decommissioned fire tower at the summer. While the trail itself is only 3.2 km long, there is a long, adventurous canoe most of the way in. Read more detail on Maple Mountain here.

Entering the base of Maple Mountain via canoe 

2) La Cloche Silhouette Trail – Killarney Provincial Park

  • Total Distance: 100 km (hiking)
  • Time: 6-10 days
  • Difficulty: moderate – difficult

Known by the locals as one of the most rugged trails in Ontario, your efforts and elevated heart rates will be rewarded with frequent vistas. The up & down of this trail allows for frequent small peaks, allowing fro amazing views of lakes, streams, rolling hills, and forested areas. You are spoiled for choice when it comes to camping however, as you are able to rest up at any of the 54 trailside sites (permits are required). Read more info on the trail here.

One of the main viewpoints inside Killarney Provincial Park

3) Mizzy Lake Trail – Algonquin Provincial Park

  • Total Distance: 11 km (hiking)
  • Time: 5-8 hours
  • Difficulty: easy – moderate

A fairly flat and approachable day hike, Mizzy Lake winds you through nine separate ponds and small lakes. Plenty of these water patches are well loved by the local beavers and fauna. Be on the lookout for some wildlife! The trail does take you through sensitive wetland, so keep your eyes on the trail and stay within it! Read more about the trail here.

Autumn colours strike a pleasant contract along Mizzy Lake 

4) White Bear Forest Old Growth Trail – Finlayson Point Provincial Park

  • Total Distance: 20 km (hiking)
  • Time: 8 hours
  • Difficulty: easy

White Bear offers a vast network of interconnected trails, taking you through the old growth red and white pine forest. At the peak, you’ll find a fire tower and viewing platform that extends the views of the park. This 800-hectare patch of mature forest is just stunning. White Bear is not only significant due to its importance in First Nations culture, but also ecologically. This first represents the 6th largest known stand of old-growth white pine forest – in a world where less than 1% of old-growth white pine still remains. Learn more about this fantastic trail here.

View from the fire tower at end of the White Bear trail 

5) Top of the Giant – Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

  • Total Distance: 22 km (hiking) + 2.7 km for the top of the Giant
  • Time: 5-8 hours
  • Difficulty: moderate – difficult

To summit the Giant, you’ll need to start at the Kabeyun South Trailhead. Hike the flat, friendly trail to the Talus Lake trail, and then continue north on the trail to the top! The climb upwards is fairly steep, so bring sturdy hiking boots, and a basic first aid kid just in case of sprained ankles. The quick elevation gain is sure to get your heart pumping! From the top of the Giant, you are rewarded with stunning views of Lake Superior. Learn more about the trail here.

Standing on top of the Giant and it’s spectacular cliffs 

6) Ganaraska Hiking Trail – Devil’s Lake to Victoria Bridge

  • Total Distance: 37 km (hiking)
  • Time: 2-3 days
  • Difficulty: moderate – difficult

Looking at the big picture, the entirety of the Ganaraska Hiking trails runs for 500km, plus some change. The trail is sectioned off into eight legs: Pine Ridge (63 km), Kawartha (75 km), Wilderness (65 km), Orilla (70 km), Barrie (50 km), Wasaga Beach (51 km), Midland (35 km) and Oro-Medonte. The 37km Devil’s Lake to Victoria bridge falls inside the Wilderness section. This rugged area is quite remote, as most of it runs through the Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands Provincial Park. Be aware of black bears in this area, and on the lighter side, make sure to take the frequent pockets of beauty.

Looking out over Devil’s Lake in late autumn 

There you have it – six of our favourite Ontario hiking trails. As always, make sure you prepare before you head out on your adventure! Bring a friend, two legged or four, and go make some memories! Much love,

– The GoFetch Team

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