Wilderness lodges in north-central Ontario provide great accommodations and tasty food to set you up for some amazing outdoor adventures. While you can enjoy most of these activities at each lodge, here are five different adventures you can enjoy, each from five different lodges.
Killarney Mountain Lodge: Hike
This lodge sits just outside Killarney Provincial Park on the shores of Georgian Bay. Renowned for its canoeing routes, you don’t have to be in the park to enjoy some good hiking; you can experience that a few minutes’ walk from the lodge’s main doors.
One of the most popular hikes is the Lighthouse Trail. The trailhead is easily found—just look for the giant canoe paddle!John Geary
The elevation gain is minimal (less than 100 metres over the five-kilometre roundtrip trail); it does have a few rugged sections where some of the Canadian Shield pink granite rock extrudes out of the soil and can present a few challenges—mainly caused by slippery-when-wet rocks. Aside from that, the trail winds through dense forests of pine, red maple and spruce, rewarding you with a nice view of one of the shore’s numerous lighthouses.
If you want a slightly longer hike, this trail can be combined with the Tar Vat Bay Trail quite easily.Allie-Rae Currie
Arowhon Pines Lodge: Canoe
Sitting on Little Joe Lake, with canoe access to several other lakes, this Algonquin Park lodge is perfect for those who want to paddle Algonquin’s waters without portaging or hanging food or sleeping on the ground.
Free use of the lodge canoes come with any stay. You can also get lunch to-go prepared to make a day of it.
Little Joe Lake connects easily with Joe Lake to the southwest. A great place to picnic sits right in the heart of the lake: Joe Island. It’s also a great place to pitch a tent on an overnight trip. If you are camping there, be sure to hang your food high enough so the raccoons don’t get it! (Yes, I speak from experience…)
You can also paddle up the northern arm of Joe Lake into Tepee Lake. That takes you past Camp Arowhon, a historical camp for boys and girls. Continuing north, you’ll pass into Fawn Lake and then have the option of turning northwest into Tom Thomson Lake or southeast into Littledoe Lake.
How far you go depends on how fast you paddle and how long a day you want. There’s enough there to keep you busy canoe-exploring for a couple of days, at least.John Geary
Bartlett Lodge: Watch Wildlife
You can’t just drive up to this Algonquin Park lodge. You park by a dock on the north side of Cache Lake then reach it via the lodge’s motorized freighter canoe.
Bartlett offers accommodations in various forms: waterfront and waterview cabins, and artist studio and platform tents.
You can book several different adventure packages through the lodge, including craft beer packages, foodie packages and a wildlife viewing package that includes a tour to Hailstorm Creek, flowing into the northwest arm of Lake Opeongo.
That tour includes a 20-minute water taxi up the lake to the creek’s mouth, where you head out in canoes or kayaks to see birds like northern loons and great blue herons, and birds of prey like osprey. If you’re lucky, you might spot a beaver, an otter or one of Algonquin’s largest mammals—a moose.John Geary
Killarney Lodge: Fish
Not to be confused with the Georgian Bay lodge, this one sits on Lake of Two Rivers. It’s a popular lake in Algonquin; one of the park’s largest campgrounds shares the shore.
Each cabin provides canoes to take out for a paddle on the lake. That makes it easy to hop out of bed, jump in a canoe and fish for lake trout or bass right outside your door.
Several lakes in the park allow motorboats, and Lake of Two Rivers is one. If you want to get away from the motorboats, there are several smaller lakes you can fish; however, you’ll probably have to make at least one portage.
Little Minnow Lake is one of those. A quick paddle across the south end of Lake Opeongo from the outfitters’ store there takes you to a 1,500-metre portage to tiny Little Minnow Lake. There you can fish for lake and brook trout—and without any noise from outboards. And even if you don’t catch any fish, you might be gifted with the company of a loon or two—a nice bonus on days when the only bites you get are from mosquitoes.
Wherever you fish, remember to purchase an Ontario fishing licence, available at the outfitters on both Canoe Lake and Lake Opeongo as well as the east and west park gates.John Geary
Rock Island Lodge: Gitchee Gumee
This rustic lodge sits on the north side of the Michipicoten River where it flows into Lake Superior. That river itself offers a great canoeing opportunity. However, the boat of choice for many who explore Lake Superior is a sea kayak.
The Group of Seven painters favoured this area of Ontario. In fact, the beach area north of the lodge was a spot where A.Y. Jackson created one of his many paintings.John Geary
As you paddle along the rocky shores near Sandy Beach, a spot along Michipicoten Bay just an hour or two paddle from the lodge, you might find that actual spot. An interpretive sign on the beach, marking the spot from where he painted gives you a clue.
Kayaking along the bay also provides a great bird-watching opportunity to spot loons, mergansers, and gulls. The lodge provides rentals as well as guides for day trips or longer extended trips along Superior.
Disclaimer: The author stayed at Killarney Mountain Lodge, Rock Island Lodge and Killarney Lodge as part of media stays hosted by the Lodges.