Many people living in Ontario are within a few hours’ drive from a provincial park, which is the perfect distance for a day trip! Visiting Ontario Parks is an easy and inexpensive way to enjoy the outdoors. You just have to pay a small fee for a day pass or purchase a seasonal pass.
Each park has its own special and unique features and is fun to explore even if you are just visiting for a short period of time. Many of these parks have day use areas and facilities for visitors to use. Day trip visitors can hike a trail, bring a bike to ride around, rent a canoe, participate in Discovery Programs or enjoy a picnic and some time at the beach.
Here are 10 awesome Ontario Parks for your next day trip:
Algonquin Provincial Park
Algonquin Provincial Park. Credit: Josie DinsmoreAlgonquin is the oldest, third largest and most well-known in Ontario’s Park system. Most visitors access the park along the popular Highway 60 Corridor, which offers over a dozen different hiking trails, beaches, picnic areas, a museum, visitor centre, an art gallery, stores and restaurants. Visitors can also use any of the Park’s 29 access points. There is so much to see and do in Algonquin that you’ll have to return again and again.
Restoule Provincial Park
Restoule Provincial Park. Credit: Josie Dinsmore
Located just south of Lake Nipissing, Restoule is tucked away off the main highway, but it is well worth the drive! The park is well known for its 4.2-kilometre Restoule Fire Tower Trail loop that takes hikers on a journey to the top of a 100-metre-high bluff with spectacular views across Stormy Lake and passes by a historic fire tower and quiet Amber Lake.
MacGregor Point Provincial Park
MacGregor Point Provincial Park. Credit: Josie DinsmoreMacGregor Point, just south of Port Elgin, is a hot-spot for birders on the lookout for migrating birds and is also one of the most ecologically diverse natural places along the Lake Huron shoreline, stretching for seven kilometres. A wide variety of animals, birds, and plant species, including carnivorous plants, can be found throughout the park and along its six hiking and biking trails.
Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park
Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park. Credit: Josie Dinsmore
This park is a real hidden gem. Samuel de Champlain is located just north of Algonquin, on the Mattawa River, that was once an important canoe route for Indigenous people, fur traders and voyageurs. Here you can launch your canoe and follow in the paddle strokes of the people who travelled these waters before us, or head out by foot along the rugged and beautiful Etienne Trail System. You can also sign up to go on a guided Voyageur Adventure Tour along the Mattawa River in a replica voyageur canoe or visit the Mattawa River Visitor Centre.
Arrowhead Provincial Park
Arrowhead Provincial Park. Credit: Josie Dinsmore
Located just north of Huntsville at the top of Muskoka, Arrowhead has become one of the most popular year-round Ontario Parks. Two must-stop spots in this park include the Big Bend Lookout, featuring a viewing platform over the Big East River where the flow of water over the years has carved its way into the sandy soil of the riverbank creating a huge curve in the river, and Stubb’s Falls, a waterfall located along a 2.6-kilometre trail loop of the same name.
Killbear Provincial Park
Killbear Provincial Park. Credit: Josie Dinsmore
You’ll want to explore Killbear’s beautiful rugged rocky landscape for hours as you wander along the shoreline of Georgian Bay! Just a short drive from Parry Sound, Killbear is located on a peninsula that offers huge sandy beaches, scenic trails, a visitor centre and the province’s most famous wind-swept pine tree. While at the park you might also get the chance to see Ontario's only venomous snake, the Massasauga Rattlesnake.
Marten River Provincial Park
Marten River Provincial Park. Credit: Josie Dinsmore
Marten River is a small park located along a river of the same name, about 30 minutes north of North Bay. The park brings visitors back in time as they wander through a replica winter logging camp, through wooden buildings and past logging equipment, while learning about the life of the lumberjack. A hike along the 4.3-kilometre Transition Trail loop will take you to a 350-year-old white pine tree.
Driftwood Provincial Park
Driftwood Provincial Park. Credit: Josie Dinsmore
Offering scenic views of the Upper Ottawa Valley and Laurentian Hills, Driftwood is a quiet and peaceful park located on the Ottawa River. Visitors can enjoy several spectacular views along the Ottawa River from the Oak Highland Trails and the more adventurous will enjoy a paddle across to the mouth of the Dumoine River. Driftwood is also known for its stunning sunsets.
Grundy Lake Provincial Park
Grundy Lake Provincial Park. Credit: Josie Dinsmore
Grundy Lake sits on the boundary between north and south in Ontario, featuring a mixed forest and rocky landscapes, just south of the French River. Several small lakes are found throughout the park, offering many great opportunities for paddling and swimming. The smooth rocky shorelines are a favourite for beach goers. The Learn to Fish program is offered at Grundy Lake, a free, hands-on program that teaches new anglers of all ages how to fish in Ontario.
McRae Point Provincial Park
McRae Point Provincial Park. Credit: Josie Dinsmore
A small park located near Orillia, McRae Point offers a peaceful retreat along the shores of Lake Simcoe. It features a long sandy beach and a large grassy area for picnics by the lake. The 4.7-kilometre Water's Edge Trail follows alongside the lake and through a hardwood swamp rich in a variety of ferns, leading out to a point that is the perfect spot to catch the sunset before you leave at the end of the day.