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8 Get-fit-fast hikes in Ontario

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
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8 Get-fit-fast hikes in Ontario

Earn bragging rights on these challenging trails

The spectacular views are worth the extra effort.

If there’s a better path to fitness than taking a hike, I’d like to hear it. Here are eight Northern Ontario favourites that are sure to break a sweat and put a smile on your face.

Pukaskwa National Park: To the Wily White and Back

View of suspension bridge from White River
The suspension bridge over the White River gorge. 

An 18-km out-and-back trek from Pukaskwa National Park’s Hattie Cove campground provides a glimpse of one of Canada’s toughest trails. Follow the Coastal Hiking Trail—a 55-km backpacking epic—south, bisecting a wetland and climbing rocky ridges. Your turnaround point for this day hike is the stunning suspension bridge over the White River’s tumultuous Chigamawinigum Falls. Venturing onto the bridge, which sways six stories above the rushing river, is the ultimate thrill.

Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area: Red Rock to Nipigon

View of a hiker's legs and boots sitting on rock on vista over Lake Superior
Take a break and enjoy the view for the Nipigon River Trail—you’ve earned it.

The 8-km Nipigon River Trail connecting the towns of Red Rock and Nipigon on Lake Superior’s north shore is a favourite destination for locals. In fact, volunteers have long donated sweat equity to keep it in tip-top shape. The trail offers a little bit of everything, including heart-pumping climbs and great views of the islands of the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, the world’s largest freshwater park. Approaching Nipigon, the trail bisects one of the most productive wetland areas on the Great Lakes. Stay in comfort at The Lodge or at the Red Rock Inn.

Lake Superior Provincial Park: Peat Mountain

The Peat Mountain trail is one of Lake Superior Provincial Park’s least travelled.

This 10-km loop located just south of Wawa stands out for its steep climbs and long views of Lake Superior. Access the trail from Lake Superior Provincial Park’s Rabbit Blanket campground. From here, you’ll ascend into the boreal forest, climbing above small inland lakes, dipping into mossy hollows and glimpsing the open water of Lake Superior—maybe even the mystic Michipicoten Island. If you’re competitive, sign up for a trail run on the Labour Day weekend.

Sault Ste. Marie: Gros Cap Loop

Snowshoer travelling on snowy path in forest
The trek to Gros Cap’s stunning vistas is equally rewarding in winter.

This 5-km loop to Gros Cap Bluffs on the Voyageur Trail is perfect for visitors looking to incorporate a hike into their visit to Sault Ste. Marie. Located just west of the city, the trail bisects cedar wetlands and rocky ridges to three stunning lookouts high above Lake Superior’s eastern terminus. This is a great spot to watch lake freighters making their way into the St. Mary’s River and glass for migrating raptors and songbirds in the spring and fall.

Temagami: Maple Mountain Paddle and Hike

Northeastern Ontario’s Temagami region is wildly popular amongst canoeists, so it’s no surprise that accessing the best hiking in Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park involves wetting a paddle. It’s a two-day paddle on Lady Evelyn Lake from the launch at Mowat Landing, north of the town of Temagami, to access the trailhead to Maple Mountain. Along the way you’ll encounter only a single easy portage and lots of big water, making it perfect for touring kayaks and canoes alike. From Hobart Lake, a 3.2-km trail ascends gradually to a bare-rock peak that’s revered by local First Nations.

Killarney Provincial Park: The Crack

Hiker walking on white rocks on top of mountain with turquoise lakes in background
The climb to Killarney’s Crack is always worth the effort.                        Photo: Dan Wildey

Silver Peak may be Killarney Provincial Park’s highest elevation, but insiders rank the view from The Crack—accessed off of Highway 637, about 7 km northeast of the George Lake campground—as far better. Follow an old logging road to the Silhouette trail, before making the steep, rocky ascent through a deep crevasse. One-way, it’s a three-kilometre hike to the summit, which overlooks the aquamarine jewels of Killarney and OSA lakes. Canoeists can also access the trail from Killarney Lake.

Thunder Bay: Top of the Sleeping Giant

This classic hike in Northwestern Ontario’s Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is a favourite amongst adventure racers in Thunder Bay.

Panoramic view of two hikers standing on cliffs overlooking Lake Superior

Start at the village of Silver Islet and hike west to Tee Harbour and Lehtinen Bay, on the shore of Lake Superior. From here, take the Talus Lake Trail to connect with the Top of the Giant Trail. In the process you’ll gain over 300 metres of elevation to the top of Ontario’s highest cliffs, with outstanding views of Thunder Bay.

Back view of hiker sitting on a rock vista overlooking forest and Lake Superior
Thunder Bay’s distinctive cuestas—bluffs with a gentle slope on one side and a steep scarp on the other—are on display from the Top of the Sleeping Giant.

Total distance for a return hike is 22 km. Enjoy a hiking getaway and stay in a secluded log cabin at Beyond the Giant ecolodge.

Elliott Lake: Semiwite Lake Trail

Mississagi’s intimate lakes and ponds are among the prettiest in Northern Ontario.

Just north of the city of Elliot Lake, Mississagi Provincial Park boasts over 40 kilometres of hiking trails. The 12-km Semiwite Lake Trail starts and ends at the park’s campground, and traces the perimeter of Semiwite Lake. It’s a tough trail through rolling terrain, with good swimming spots to cool down along the way. The trail gives an intimate glimpse of the little-known network of water bodies that make Elliot Lake one of the prettiest communities in Northern Ontario. Stay in comfort at Laurentian Lodge.

Take a Hike 

Hiking in Northern Ontario will not only improve your fitness, being immersed in its stunning beauty and wilderness will also improve your mental health and well-being. 

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