Assembling a list of the best hikes in Ontario is easy. But keeping that list to a reasonable number is a huge challenge. We aimed for an even dozen, focusing on the wilds of Northwest Ontario, Algoma Country, and Northeastern Ontario, then added a couple of must-do hikes in other areas. Still, it wasn’t enough. This list includes hikes for everyone—families, multi-day backpackers, nature enthusiasts and trail running fiends. Find insider tips and trips in the "Locals Know Best” sections.
Did you know that Haliburton hosts Canada’s largest hiking festival every September? Find out more.
The iconic Sleeping Giant of Thunder Bay offers perhaps the greatest view in Ontario, from the top of the province’s tallest cliffs. You’ll want to book a couple nights at the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park campground or, for more luxurious accommodations, the Beyond the Giant Nature Retreat, before setting off on the challenging 22.4-km trek (with 300 metres of elevation gain) to the Top of the Giant. Access the South Kabeyun Trail from the village of Silver Islet, at the end of Highway 587.
Once a locals-only trail, this 10-km footpath between the Superior Country communities of Red Rock and Nipigon, less than an hour’s drive west of Thunder Bay, has become a centrepiece of the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area. The challenging hike includes over 150 metres of elevation gain, and includes wildlife waterfront sections on the Nipigon River and expansive views of Lake Superior. Book a room at the Red Rock Inn for a great place to stay, or combine it with the grassroots Live From the Rock folk music festival in August.
The rugged, 53-km trail between Terrace Bay and the village of Rossport is one of Canada’s best-kept backpacking secrets. The entire trail will take experienced hikers three to five days to complete, tracing the shoreline of the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area. You can also get a glimpse of some of the trail’s highlights (such as Mount Gwynne, near the community of Schreiber) in day trips. Book a room and one of Rossport’s famous bed and breakfasts or a campsite at one of Rainbow Falls Provincial Park’s two campgrounds.
One of the newest trails in Pukaskwa National Park captures the best of the Lake Superior coastline in an easy to plan, two- to three-day loop—a great introduction to wilderness backpacking in some of Ontario’s best scenery. Be sure to spend a night in Pukaskwa’s secluded campground before or after your hiking trip. Tackling the Mdaabii Miikna trail will whet your appetite for trying Pukaskwa’s epic 60-km Coastal Trail, one of Canada’s greatest backpacking routes.
It’s easy to get blown away by the namesake feature of Lake Superior Provincial Park. The Inland Sea is awe-inspiring, and Lake Superior Provincial Park’s Coastal Hiking Trail—available to day-hikers and backpackers on a three- to six-day trips—ranks amongst the finest hiking trails in Canada. The 10-km Peat Mountain Trail explores the other side of Lake Superior Provincial Park—rugged boreal forest backcountry with serious elevation gain—with outstanding long views of the famous coastline. The peaceful, private, oversized campsites of Rabbit Blanket Lake make for a great family-friendly base camp at the trailhead. Or, for more luxury, book a waterfront room at Rock Island Lodge in nearby Wawa. If you’re a trail-runner check out the Defeat the Peat race in early September.
This out-and-back, 5-km leg on the Voyageur Trail offers spectacular views north of Sault Ste. Marie. Visit in the fall for spectacular colours. If you’re up for a serious challenge, the Robertson Cliffs are central to October’s UT Stokely Creek, a trail running event that includes distances from 5 to 170 km and is recognized as the only sanctioned qualifier for the prestigious Ultra Trail Mont Blanc in central Canada. Make it a weekend with an overnight at Bellevue Valley Lodge or Glenview Cottages.
One of Ontario’s finest long-distance backpacking trails takes experienced hikers on a 80-km circuit of Killarney Provincial Park’s iconic La Cloche Mountains, departing from the George Lake Campground. This week-long journey will take deep into the landscape that inspired Canada’s Group of Seven artists. Reward yourself with a night stay at the luxurious Killarney Mountain Lodge when you finish your trek.
LOCALS KNOW BEST: Killarney Outfitters offer complete multi-day backpacking trip planning and outfitting for the La Cloche Silhouette Trail. Whether you’re a novice or seasoned adventurer, you’ll appreciate their all inclusive outfitting package (starting at $99 per day per adult) including high-quality equipment and delicious, healthy wilderness meals. They will help you to plan and pack, and give you tips and tricks to happily complete this challenging trail.
Combine day hiking with some of the finest backcountry canoeing in Ontario in Obabika River Provincial Park, near Temagami. These canoe-access trails on Obabika Lake will take you through some of the province’s largest old-growth pines. It’s easy to spend a half day or more exploring the trails.
Nestled deep in the Temagami wilderness and perched over a 30-foot waterfall, is Cabin Falls Ecolodge. After paddling into one of Canada’s most unique rustic lodges, you’ll spend your days hiking and paddling in old-growth forest, learning about the local legends and history.
Get an authentic Indigenous experience on this 7-km trail in Point Grondine Park, southwest of Killarney. This loop trail includes interpretive stops revealing the local Anishinaabek history, medicines, and connection to the land. Point Grondine Park also offers longer self-guided hiking trails as well as excellent paddling, backcountry camping, and cultural experiences.
LOCALS KNOW BEST: Point Grondine Park is part of the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve. Wikwemikong Tourism offers an Amik Ziibing guided hike, focusing on Anishnaabek use of plants, as well as an array of authentic Indigenous experiences that reflect the cultural traditions and lifestyles of the Anishnaabek people.
It’s a little-known fact that the unique limestone geology of the Niagara Escarpment extends into Manitoulin Island, in Northeastern Ontario. The Cup and Saucer trailhead is located 18 km southwest of Little Current, on Highway 540. The 12-km trail involves steep sections with uncertain footing; the reward is an expansive lookout from a limestone balcony, 70 metres above the hardwood forest.
LOCALS KNOW BEST: Explore Manitoulin Island with Great Spirit Circle Trail. Travel, discover and learn from an Indigenous perspective. Embark on a guided journey on the Mother Earth Hiking Trail (Cup and Saucer Trail) as interpreted by your Indigenous guide. Learn about different local plant life used for edible, practical, and medicinal purposes as well as local legends and history.
There are no shortage of hiking options in Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park, ranging from easy day hikes to challenging multi-day backpacking treks. What the 1.5-km Barron Canyon Trail lacks in distance it makes up in scenery, with one of the most spectacular lookouts in the Algonquin region—soaring 100 metres above the Barron River. Make it a weekend by booking a site at the secluded Achray Campground on Sand Lake.
This short 3-km loop explores one of Ontario’s most unique landscapes and shorelines, offshore in the crystalline Georgian Bay waters of Fathom Five National Marine Park. Flowerpot Island is only accessible by boat, with tour boat service through Bruce Anchor Cruises or Blue Heron Boat Cruises available mid-May through mid-October (weather permitting). You’ll experience stunning natural limestone pillars and caves and rare communities of plants, as well as a historic lighthouse. Make your reservation early to score a campsite on Flowerpot Island or stay in Tobermory and do day hikes.
This 6-km trail takes you to the top of one of the Greater Toronto Area’s most recognizable natural features. Start in Bluffer’s Park, east of downtown Toronto, off of Kingston Road and trace the Lake Ontario shore.
Take A Hike, eh?
From short day hikes to multi-day epics, Ontario has a trail for everyone. This September, check out Canada’s largest hiking festival in the Haliburton Highlands.