The Best Hiking Trails In Ontario

The Joys Of Hiking  

Physical activity can come in various forms and provides a rewarding sense of accomplishment through the release of extra dopamine. Not to mention, physical activity is amazing for both mental and physical health. Many people like to hike as a way to exercise while also enjoying beautiful sites and immersing themselves in nature. The simple act of walking on trails, breathing in fresh air, and taking in scenic views can significantly boost your mood and reduce stress. Overcoming the challenges of different terrains also builds resilience and provides a strong sense of accomplishment. Whether you're an experienced hiker or new to the activity, hiking is a fantastic way to stay fit and improve your overall well-being. 

Many Great Ontario Hiking Trails Across The Province 

Ontario has some of the most beautiful parks and lakes in Canada, allowing any nature lover to have so many places to explore! Due to the abundance of Provincial Parks and hiking trails scattered throughout the province, it's hard to decide where you may want your next outdoor adventure to be. Especially because Ontario has such a large variety of ecosystems and environments like forests, lakes, and waterfalls all throughout. So, we've put together a list of some of the best hiking trails in Ontario. Now, it's easier to decide which beautiful hikes you will go to next! 

Southern Ontario Hiking Trails 

Some of the best hiking trails in Ontario, especially for those looking for friendly destinations for kids, can be found in Southern Ontario. Due to the Niagara Escarpment being located here, there are many hiking trails and provincial parks to explore that are suitable for all skill levels. If you're an outdoor enthusiast living in or visiting the area, continue reading to learn more about our top picks for the best hiking trails in Southern Ontario. 

Bruce Trail  

The Bruce Trail is Canada's oldest and longest marked footpath, and it follows the Niagara Escarpment, going all the way from Tobermory to just outside of Niagara Falls. Whether you live in St. Catharines, Hamilton, or more north in the Bruce Peninsula, the Bruce Trail can be enjoyed by many. Made as a way to conserve the Niagara Escarpment, the public footpath showcases beautiful scenery, including incredible rock cliffs, breathtaking waterfalls, underwater caves, as well as 1,000-year-old Eastern White Cedar trees, making it one of the best hiking trails in Ontario. More experienced hikers may attempt to tackle the full length of the trail over multiple days, whereas hikers looking for an easy-going time may spend an afternoon in a local area of the path. The unique geological formations found within the Bruce Trail are a sight to see for any nature lover.  

Dundas Valley Trail System  

Another great option for both expert hikers and outdoor enthusiasts is the Dundas Valley Trail system. This 40km network of trails connects with the Bruce Trail just outside of Hamilton and features two other trails; the Main Loop Trail, and the Hamilton to Brantford Trail. Featuring lush Carolinian forests, colourful meadows, cold-water streams, unique rock formations, and an array of rare plants, birds and wildlife, the Dundas Valley Trail system highlights the large glacial valley that connects to Lake Ontario. The gorgeous scenery of this trail system is one of the best hiking trails in Ontario because it has been designated as a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, which is only one of nineteen within Canada. The geographic diversity of this area is something that all hikers, regardless of level, can find beauty in.  

Black Walnut Trail Loop  

A nice option for easy to moderate-level hikers is the Black Walnut Trail Loop just outside of St. Catharines within the Short Hills Provincial Park. This 6km hike features two gorgeous waterfalls and both dense forests as well as open meadows for many to enjoy. This trail is perfect for strolling due to its relatively easy terrain with a few inclines. Both horseback riders and mountain bikers can enjoy this trail and its conditions. Along the way, you can encounter a variety of wildlife and native plants, making it a great spot for nature enthusiasts. The well-marked path and gentle elevation changes make it accessible for most fitness levels, so whether you're looking for a vigorous workout or a leisurely stroll, the Black Walnut Trail Loop offers something for everyone. 

Great Lakes Waterfront Trail  

The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail stretches along most of the perimeter of the Great Lakes in Canada. The Haldimand and Norfolk County sections of this trail offer spectacular views of Lake Erie and winds along quiet country roads lined by quaint waterfront cottages. This stretch of the trail is perfect for cyclers, bird watchers, people looking to go camping, or simply those who want to enjoy the beach. The shoreline in Norfolk and Haldimand counties are a naturalist’s haven due to the public beaches, marshes, provincial parks, and conservation areas along the Waterfront Trail. The wide variety of activities to enjoy in this area is a main factor to why we've included it as one of the best hiking trails in Ontario. For those that are local to Port Dover, consider taking the trail to Long Point Provincial Park to explore marshland that is home to many bird species and long sandy beaches. Hagersville residents may wish to take this trail to the James N. Allen Provincial Park for some peaceful birdwatching or incredible swimming.  

Lynn Valley Trail 

Formerly a rail line, this 10km pedestrian trail in Port Dover and Simcoe features some of the most stunning views in the area and is perfect for walking, hiking, cycling or nature study. The Lynn Valley Trail showcases many different habitats and a variety of landscapes, including mixed woods, wetlands, open grassland and agricultural land, all along the scenic Lynn River, which is an important waterway for the community. This moderate trail is nice for a day hike, which takes around 3 hours to complete. The Lynn Valley Trail is a favourite trail for many of the residents of Simcoe and Port Dover, as it is open all year round. Additionally, its well-maintained path and gentle terrain make it accessible for hikers of all ages and skill levels, offering a peaceful and enjoyable outdoor experience for everyone. 

Waterford Heritage Trail 

Another one of the best hiking trails in Ontario is the Waterford Heritage Trail. This is another converted rail line, and it stretches over 19km, going through the town of Waterford in Norfolk County. The trail's main feature is the Black Bridge, which is a century-old 166-metre-long high-level rail bridge that offers spectacular views of the sunrises and sunsets over various ponds. If you like to partake in kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, fishing, cycling, or simply hiking, this trail can satisfy all your wishes. There are varied landscapes, such as gorgeous forests, fields, wetlands, and grasslands, to explore. The Waterford Trail is a favourite hike for many Norfolk locals who are looking for a beautiful sight and a peaceful experience. 

Central Ontario Hiking Trails 

Central Ontario definitely has some of the best hiking trails in Ontario. As you head up further north, away from the busy cities of Southern Ontario, the wildlife and breathtaking views become more and more common in Central Ontario. Places like Algonquin Provincial Park and Killarney Provincial Park offer more challenging but beautiful hiking trails. The popularity of the listed trails makes it clear why these are considered the best hiking trails in Ontario. 

Centennial Ridges Trail 

Located within the Algonquin Provincial Park, the Centennial Ridges Trail is excellent for experienced hikers as it is a more difficult trail that offers breathtaking views. This 10km loop is considered to be the best trail in Algonquin Park by many due to rewarding panoramic views of the lush forest and Whitefish Lake after conquering the rocky ridges and rugged terrain. Just 2km from Highway 60, the trail does not have towns or developments nearby, making it the perfect place to isolate and be one with the beauty of nature. The trail features steep climbs and descents, requiring good physical fitness and preparation, but the effort is well worth it. Along the way, hikers can enjoy diverse wildlife and the tranquillity of untouched wilderness, making the Centennial Ridges Trail a must-visit for any avid hiker. 

The Crack Trail 

Moving to the Killarney Provincial Park, the Crack Trail is a more difficult trail meant for expert hikers in good physical condition, but it is worth the sweat (and possibly tears) for the incredible views. One of Ontario's most difficult trails, the Crack Trail, takes you up a mountain with very rocky terrain and is about 7.5km as an 'out-and-back' trail, meaning the way you go is the way you have to go back. The Crack Trail is not typically recommended for young children or dogs due to rugged cliffs and loose rocks, although dogs on leashes less than 2m are permitted. Be familiar with the local wildlife, including black bears, and bring the appropriate gear you may need, including a trail map. Be sure to do extensive research before tackling this well-worth-it hike! This nature escape will make you feel on top of the world once you've completed it! 

Northern Ontario Hiking Trails 

In Northern Ontario, there are so many expansive terrains and different ecosystems scattered throughout the vast area. Having a fun outdoor adventure is very easy due to all the beautiful trails and breathtaking landscapes. Some of the best hiking trails in Ontario for expert hikers can be found here in Northern Ontario.  

Temagami Island Old-Growth Trails 

The Temagami area is world-famous for its forests. Specifically, it displays some amazing red and white pine forests. On Temagami Island, there are various connected trails where you can find the best hikes and explore these old-growth forests and find breathtaking scenery. The trails are a short boat ride or paddle from the Lake Temagami access road. These trails are best for moderate hikers or expert hikers as the trail conditions are somewhat challenging, yet the breathtaking view of the spectacular mature forest makes up for any physical exertion. Hikers can expect to traverse rugged terrain and navigate through dense woods, with the reward of serene lakeside lookouts and the chance to experience some of the most pristine and ancient forests in Ontario. 

Nipigon River Recreational Trail  

Heading further northwest, this 10km one-way hike at the Nipigon River Recreational Trail is at a higher difficulty level due to rugged terrain but is also one of the best ways to experience Lake Superior. During this hike, you can expect to see panoramic views of Nipigon River and Nipigon Bay from three clifftop lookouts. From these lookout points, you can take a moment to appreciate the expansive views of Lake Superior and view the local wildlife, such as bald eagles, blue herons, pelicans, moose, deer, otters, beavers, and so much more! Many sections of this hiking trail along the river can be the perfect chill oasis, especially during the warm summer months. The Nipigon River Trail, particularly, is one of the best hiking trails in Ontario because of the opportunities for incredible swimming along the way. A summer dip is the perfect way to cool off on a hot day after conquering this hike. 

Tee Harbour Trail 

Another one of the best hiking trails in Ontario is the Tee Harbour Trail, located in the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, just outside of Thunder Bay. This 12km hike is named according to the 'T' shape of the small peninsula that you can find this trail situated on. The Tee Harbour Trail is categorized as a difficult level hike yet is wide and gently rolling, which makes it perfect for biking. This trail also offers a natural sandy bay that nearly anyone can enjoy for some nice swimming. Birdwatching, camping, and fishing are some of the most popular activities in this area. Experiencing the natural beauty and amazing views of Lake Superior by visiting the Tee Harbour Trail is definitely recommended for anyone looking to take a hiking trip in Northern Ontario.  

Enjoy Nature! 

Living in Ontario means having access to beautiful nature escapes. Whether you're looking for a casual stroll on a simple hiking trail or a multi-day hike with camping, you can find some of the best hiking trails in Ontario. Remember to stay safe while you enjoy the beautiful trails all throughout Ontario. 

This content is written by our Morison Insurance team. All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information in this article, you do so at your own risk. While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors.

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