Here’s a rundown of some of the best trail guides to wrap up and put in a fellow Ontarian hiker’s stocking this Christmas.
The Bruce Trail Guide - Edition 30 ($39.95)
This is the latest edition (June 2020) of the 890 kilometres of Canada’s oldest and longest continuous public footpath. The guide features 42 topographic maps of the Bruce Trail, from Queenston to Tobermory (including parking, access points and camping locations). Side trail descriptions are also added, as well as geology and the flora and fauna of the Niagara Escarpment—the backbone of the trail itself—and Indigenous Cultural Landmarks. It’s packaged in a six-ring binder with a convenient vinyl sleeve that lets you hike with just a single map for individual day trips.
The Ganaraska Hiking Trail Map Guide ($29.95)
This guidebook includes maps and an overview that covers the entire length of the trail, from Port Hope along Lake Ontario, north to the Ganaraska Forest and the sand hills of the Oak Ridge Moraine, past the drumlin fields of the Kawartha Highlands, through the wilds of Queen Elizabeth Wildlands Provincial Park, to the rolling hills of Simcoe where it meets the Bruce Trail at McKinney's Hill, Glen Huron. A cairn marks the end of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail. But you can continue from the Niagara Escarpment to a terminus at Wasaga Beach. A second branch of the Trail also runs from north of Horseshoe Valley to Highway 32 near Port McNicol on Georgian Bay.
Caledon Hikes: Loops & Lattes ($27.95)
Author Nicolas Ross’ entire series of southern Ontario hiking books are excellent but her one on Caledon is one of the most popular. It contains detailed information and maps on 37 loop hikes in the Caledon region, ranging from 30-minute strolls to four-day treks. The routes include portions of the Bruce Trail, the Oak Ridges Moraine Trail, the Humber Valley Heritage Trail, the Grand Valley Trail and the Trans Canada Trail. The guide also contains bits of local history, a difficulty rating for each trail and places to stop for a frothy latte.
Nature Hikes: Near-Toronto Trails and Adventures ($24.95)
This book covers conservation areas in the Toronto region with colour maps and detailed information on 39 hikes amongst the best semi-wild places in and around suburbia. Top places include Credit Valley, Nottawasaga Valley, Toronto and Region, Lake Simcoe Region, Central Lake Ontario, Caledon Trailway, Hilton Falls, Rattlesnake, Mount Nemo, Kelso and Mountsberg.
Access points, parking, dog friendly parks and best bird watching spots are given. There are also plenty of sidebars giving bits of information on the flora and fauna found, as well as local history. The book is written as a narrative, giving a personal and practical touch.
110 Nature Hot Spots in Ontario: The Best Parks, Conservation Areas and Wild Places ($29.95)
This guidebook has recently been expanded and covers ten more wild destinations in Ontario. It’s organized into separate regions of the province and provides detailed information of various places to visit, from subterranean caves and scenic waterfalls to old growth forests and the best place to spot a rare warbler. There are enough destinations to keep you exploring the province for an entire lifetime.
Waterfalls of Ontario: Revised and Expanded Featuring Over 125 Waterfalls ($29.95)
This is truly a captivating book on the province’s most scenic waterfalls. It’s packed with amazing colour photos and detailed information on the history and geography of each cascade. It also has accurate directions and sidebars containing info on walk time, trail distance, trail conditions, and the height of the falls. The new addition includes 27 more falls covering the area north of Lake Superior, like Kakabeka Falls, Mink Creek Falls, Kap Kig Iwan Falls and Pigeon River High Falls.