Welcome to Ontario's cottage country—which is also an incredible hiking hub, with access to world-class parks and preserves.

The town of Huntsville, Ontario, offers quick escapes to provincial parks like Arrowhead and Algonquin, to name just two, as well as expansive wilderness areas like Limberlost. Where to begin?

We've narrowed down your choices with a list of 10 of our favourite hikes in the Huntsville area:

Echo Rock Trail (Limberlost Forest & Wildlife Reserve)

Length: 5.5 km

Elevation gain: 280 m

Limberlost is a 4,000-plus-hectare private forest reserve east of Hunstville with countless scenic trails, free to the public. Echo Rock Trail is the most straightforward way to reach the pinnacle lookout of the area. It’s a 5.5-kilometre loop, and besides the exceptional view along the cliffside overlooking Lake Solitaire, the route also has some of the largest hemlock trees in the region, a giant deposit of quartz and the remains of an old farm settlement with an orchard field. 

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Solitaire Lake Trail (Limberlost Forest & Wildlife Reserve)

Length: 6.3 km

Elevation gain: 280 m

This is the prime loop route of Limberlost Forest Reserve. The trail is rated moderate and circles the namesake lake. It come with some unique boardwalks that cross wet areas, a mix of mature woodland, some incredible mineral displays along the rock walls hugging the shoreline and a very nice lookout. It’s a longer day hike, but well worth it.

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Buck Lake Trail (Limberlost Forest & Wildlife Reserve)

Length: 13 km

Elevation gain: 136 m

There are some steady climbs along the way, rating this walk moderate to difficult at times. It’s also a full 13 km long—but has some side routes that can be used as shortcuts. Portions of the trail keep close to cliff edges and has some steep ups-and-downs. Switchbacks help with the toughest sections. The highlight is the spectacular view from the clifftop across Buck Lake and the surrounding forests.

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Echo Valley Trail

Length: 3.5 km

Elevation gain: 46 m

This protected nature area near Dwight, just east of Huntsville, contains a main trail with 14 small side options. The full loop measures 3.5 kilometres and ranges from moderate to difficult due to changing terrain. Viewing platforms are set along the way, giving great lookouts of the mixed forest and marshland. There are also scenic views throughout. A viewing guide is available and there are three onsite interpretive kiosks. It’s sees less use than the more popular hikes in the area—but the woods, water and wildlife are well worth the visit.

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Stubb’s Falls Trail

Length: 2 km

Elevation gain: 70 m

This trail is part of Arrowhead Provincial Park. It’s an easy two-kilometre loop through a diverse forest, full of birdlife. It also goes to a where the Little East River flushes down from a rocky chute into the Big East River. The trail runs parallel to the Little East River and then loops back on the other side, adding variety to the full hike.

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Dyer’s Memorial

Length: 1 km

Elevation gain: Minimal

Here’s where the story behind the trail is the highlight of the hike. Dyer’s Memorial is a column of stone built by Clifton Brown, a lawyer from the U.S., and marks the final resting place of his beloved wife, Betsy. The couple honeymooned in Muskoka in 1916 and returned to live here 20 years later, staying along the Big East River in a small cabin. Betsy died in 1956, and her husband had the memorial built with his wife’s ashes placed in a stone wall near the peak, so she could look over the peaceful river. He spent three years beautifying the area with ponds, walking trails and bridges. Soon after the park area was formed, Clifton died. His ashes were encased in the monument beside Betsy. The trail system here is short; not even one kilometre long. But the area—and history—is well worth the visit. It’s a bit out of the way. About two kilometres off Williamsport Road (close to Arrowhead Provincial Park) you’ll see the sign to the right to Dyer Memorial. It’s rough and narrow, so go slow.

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Fairy Vista Trail

Length: 4.8 km

Elevation gain: 98 m

This is a very popular multi-use trail just east of Huntsville, running parallel with Highway 60. It’s a smooth, paved, linear 4.8-kilometre route which makes for an easy stroll to view the surrounding mixed forest and wetland. The diverse habitat makes for an exceptional place to view a variety of bird species. The trail is part of the extension Park to Park Trail that runs from the western border of Algonquin Provincial Park to Killbear Provincial Park along Georgian Bay. 

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Oxtongue River/Ragged Falls

Length: 1 km

Elevation gain: 33 m

Oxtongue River/Ragged Falls Provincial Park is just outside Algonquin’s western gate. It’s a park all to its own. There’s a short, easy one-kilometre trail that leads to the falls—often rated as one of the top 10 cascades in Ontario. There’s also a short but steep trail leading down to the base of the falls, giving you another perspective of the powerful rush of water flushing down the Canadian Shield.

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Hardwood Lookout 

Length: 1 km

Elevation gain: 75 m

This short hike is just 14 kilometres from Algonquin Provincial Park’s west gate, off Highway 60 and not far from the Tea Lake Campground. It’s just under one kilometre and forms a loop. It’s gentle most of the way until you reach the steady climb up to the scenic lookout point. The view overlooks Smoke Lake and the surrounding mixed deciduous and coniferous woodlands of Algonquin’s western dome. The route follows a counterclockwise direction, but if you’re pushed for time and just want to get to the lookout, it’s just a short hike clockwise from the access point—and a much less strenuous uphill climb.

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Whiskey Rapids

Length: 2.1 km

Elevation gain: 80 m

This trail is very close to Algonquin Provincial Park’s western gate, off Highway 60. It’s an easy 2.1-kilometre loop with a couple of steep sections not too far from the access. The trail follows the Oxtongue River to Whisky Rapids, which is the highlight of the route. Sometime during the turn of the previous century, two log drivers lost a three-gallon keg of whiskey. They were told to go back upriver on the Oxtongue to look for it. They found it, drank some of it, and in a drunken state ran this set of rapids—in spring flood. They made it, but the barrel of whiskey was never found. 

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