10 Top Hiking Trails in Ontario

Ontario may be best known for its canoe routes, but that doesn’t mean its trails should be overlooked by hikers.

Beautiful hiking trails in Ontario
Ontario top trails

Sure, its highest mountain is only 693 metres, paling in comparison to peaks found in Yukon, B.C. and Alberta—but Ontario boasts some of Canada’s longest trails, set in picturesque environments. After all, gentler landscapes offer multi-night hikers 100 km, 500 km and 800 km-plus trails.

And just because you’re not in the alpine doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to look at. There’s the Lake Superior shoreline, dizzying escarpment, wetlands zig-zagged with boardwalks, exposed Canadian Shield, First Nations petroglyphs, old trappers’ cabins and so much more.

Ontario is a huge province traced with many trails, but we’ve managed to shortlist 25 of our favourite hikes. 

Trail suggestions made by Explore Editor David Webb
Maple leaf

As with any off-the-grid adventure, venturing into the backcounty can be dangerous. Then, factor in changing weather conditions, wildlife, strain, blisters and fatigue.

Rules for backcountry safety: 

  • Bring reliable communications: The trails listed below will lead you through areas of spotty-to-no cell coverage. (As Explore Editor David Webb discovered in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park last month!) SPOT Satellite GPS Messengers (also available at MEC) can send emergency responders your GPS coordinates so that you can easily be located in an emergency. It can also let family and friends know you’re OK when you just want to check in. Better safe than sorry.
  • Pack proper gear, wear layers and reflective clothing. Carry survival equipment and know how to use it. 
  • Know when sunset is, especially when camping in the backcountry. 
  • Check the weather forecast in advance of departing. 
  • Never go alone and pick partners who have skills, fitness and experience.
  • Overconfidence rarely serves hikers well. Be realistic about route planning and your fitness. 
  • Be wildlife aware. Know what to do in an encounter and how to properly store camp provisions that are animal attractants. 
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return. Parking? Leave a note with your contact information, emergency contact and expected return. 

1. Pines Hiking Trail

Total distance: 10 km
Time: 3 to 4 hours
Difficulty: Moderate

Details: This trail is an extension of the Whiskey Jack Trail (a moderate trail, extending about 2.5 km) and offers sandy beaches surrounded by red and white pine trees. The trail is moderate with some steep climbs.

How do I get to the Pines Hiking Trail trailhead? You can access this trail from the Dawson Trail Campground, located on French Lake, in the northeast corner of the park.

Trail website: ontariotrails.on.ca/pines-hiking-trail 

Park websiteontarioparks.com/park/quetico

2. Maple Mountain

Total distance: 40 km of paddle and 3.2 km of hiking
Time: 4 days
Difficulty: Moderate

Details: Maple Mountain is one of the best-known mountains in Ontario, standing 350 metres above sea level (1,150 feet). There is a decommissioned fire tower at the summit. The trail is only 3.2 km long, but this adventure demands adventurous canoe most of the way in.

How do I get there Maple Mountain trailhead? Paddle about 40 km from Mowat Landing, through Lady Evelyn River and Lady Evelyn Lake, and onward to Tupper Lake. This route will require portaging over Mattawapika Dam. 

Park websiteontarioparks.com/park/ladyevelynsmoothwater 

3. Ishpatina Ridge Tower Summit

Total distance: 4 km (from Scarecrow Lake)
Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Moderate

Details: The trail from the lake to the summit is pretty easy to follow, but it is not maintained. The first half is fairly level, but then you’ll get into a moderate climb for the second half. Ishpatina Ridge is the highest point in Ontario, at 693 metres above sea level.

How do I get to to the Ishpatina Ridge Tower Summit trailhead? 

Park websiteontarioparks.com/park/ladyevelynsmoothwater 

4. Coastal Trail

Total distance: 65 km
Time: 5 to 7 days (or day trips)
Difficulty: Moderate/Advanced

Details: This trail traces the Lake Superior coastline, running from Agawa Bay to Chalfant Cove. The linear trail is well marked and those who hike it end-to-end will want to arrange a shuttle pick-up.

Along this trail hikers encounter scenic cliffs, cobblestone beaches and plenty of wooded areas. There are several access points (Sinclair Cove, Katherine Cove or Agawa), so you can spend as much or as little time on the trail as you want.

How do I get to the Coastal Trail trailhead? 

Park website: ontarioparks.com/park/lakesuperior 

Trail websitelakesuperiorpark.ca/hiking-the-coastal-trail

5. La Cloche Silhouette Trail

Total distance: 100 km
Time: 7 to 10 days (or day-trips)
Difficulty: Difficult

Details: Known as one of the most rugged trails in Ontario, your efforts will be rewarded with amazing views, lakes, streams, rolling hills and forest areas. Make camp along the way in any of the 54 trailside sites (permits are required). Keep an eye out for signs of wildlife. 

How do I get to the La Cloche Silhouette Trailhead? The trail begins and ends at the George Lake Campground.

Trail website: ontariotrails.on.ca/la-cloche-silhouette-trail 

Park websiteontarioparks.com/park/killarney 

6. Cup & Saucer Trail

Total distance: 12 to 14 km (combined)
Time: Up to 4 hours
Difficulty: Moderate

Details: Hikers will have two options to choose from, as seen on the map you’ll get at the trailhead. You can take the White Trail (5.5 km) or the Blue Trail (6.5 km), with a diversion along Adventure Trail (0.5 km.) Depending on which route you choose, the hike can take about 20 minutes or over four hours. But you’ll be rewarded with amazing views of the island’s iconic cliffs. 

How do I get to the Cup & Saucer trailhead? The trailhead is located at the junction of Highway 540 and Bidwell Road.

Trail websiteontariotrails.on.ca/cup-saucer-trail 

7. Mizzy Lake Trail

Algonquin Park, Ontario

Total distance: 11 km
Time: 5 to 8 hours
Difficulty: Moderate

Details: While hiking this trail, you’ll pass nine different ponds and small lakes, plenty of which are home to resident beavers. The trail winds through sensitive wetland so expect to leave Fido at home. Keep your eyes on the trail—this one can be quite rocky and rooted. 

How do I get to the Mizzy Lake trailhead? The Mizzy Lake Trail is located at kilometre 15.4 on Highway 60. Look for signs on the highway to find the trailhead

Trail website: ontariotrails.on.ca/mizzy-lake-trail 

Park websiteontarioparks.com/park/algonquin

8. Highland Backpacking Trail

Total distance: 19 km or 35 km
Time: 2 to 5 days
Difficulty: Difficult

Details: Whichever loop you choose, you’ll be spending at least a couple days —and at least one night—in the woods. Lakes, rivers, steep climbs, side slopes and sharp turns await you on this adventure.

How do I get to the Highland Backpacking trailhead? The Highland Backpacking Trail is located at kilometre 29.7 on Highway 60. The trailhead begins near the well-serviced Mew Lake Campground (near the Bat Lake trailhead).Loop back at Provoking lake if you want the shorter loops. Push forward to Harness Lakes for the 35 km route. 

Park websiteontarioparks.com/park/algonquin 

9. White Bear Forest Old Growth Trail

Total distance: 20 km
Time: Up to 8 hours
Difficulty: Easy-intermediate

Details: This is an interconnected series of trails, venturing through the old growth red and white pine forest. You’ll find a fire tower and viewing platform to extend views of the park.

Hiking through this 800-hectare parcel of mature forest is exceptionally scenic. It is also a very special place, with importance in First Nations culture. It’s also ecologically significant, representing the sixth largest known stand of old-growth white pine forest in a world where there less than one per cent of old-growth white pine remains. 

How do I get to the White Bear Forest Old Growth trailhead? Access the trail system via Ski Hill Road (off O’Connor Drive) and the proceed to Temagami Trails Chalet, at Caribou Mountain Ski Hill. Park here. Reference this map

Park website: ontarioparks.com/park/finlaysonpoint 

Trail website: ancientforest.org/whitebear 

10. Casque Isles Trail

Total distance: 53 km
Time: Several hours to multi-day
Difficulty: Moderate

Details: Following the shoreline of Lake Superior and hopping from bay to bay, the Casques Isles Trail is well-signed and maintained. Drink in the rugged landscape and pass cultural highlights including old trapper cabins and caves marked with First Nations pictographs. Casque Isles Trail spans 53 km, beginning in Rossport and ending in Terrace Bay. However, it can be conquered in sections. The trail is one section of the much longer (600 km) Voyageur Hiking Trail

How do I get to the Casque Isles trailhead? There are five distinct segments, each of which is accessed from Highway 17: Mcleans (12 km), Schreiber Channel (13 km), Mount Gwynne (6 km), Death Valley (10 km) and Lyda Bay (6 km). See this PDF for more information. 

Trail websiteontariotrails.on.ca/casque-isles-trail 


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