Ontario is not only blessed with a bounty of waterways for paddlers to enjoy, it's also endlessly riddled with scenic trail systems leading into beautiful, unique locations. Locations, you might want to enjoy a little longer. If you're ready to graduate from day hiking, we've got four trails to ease you into overnighters. From south to north, these trails are a great way to enjoy a night or two in the woods.
Cyprus Lake Trailhead & Crane Lake Trailhead, Bruce Trail
Bruce Peninsula National Park
Difficulty: Easy to intermediate
Why you want to hike this trail: These vibrant woodlands are filled with diverse wildlife and offer stunning views overlooking the rocky lakeshore of the Bruce Peninsula.
Trail notes: Enjoy the spectacular scenery of ancient woodlands and magnificent limestone cliffs soaring out of the turquoise waters of Georgian Bay. The famous 840 km Bruce Trail is the oldest long-distance marked footpath in Canada.
This scenic section takes you into the Bruce Peninsula National Park on a one-way hike from one end to the other. For this, two cars or a shuttle is required; or you can retrace your steps back to the trailhead you began.
Distance (km): 23 km from Cyprus Trailhead to the Stormhaven backcountry campsite (out-and-back), or 20 km one way from Cyprus Lake to Crane Lake trailheads (or vice versa). Drive-in camping is available at Cyprus Lake, with two backcountry areas along the shores of Georgian Bay.
Where to setup camp: Beginning at Cyprus Lake trailhead, take the Horse Lake Trail to connect with the Bruce Trail. Continue along the Bruce Trail east to arrive at Stormhaven campsites. Backpackers can set up camp for the night and retrace their steps the next day, or continue on to finish at the Crane Lake trailhead if a vehicle was left there/arrangements for a shuttle.
Highland Backpacking Trail
Algonquin Provincial Park
Mew Lake Campground | Flickr/Tony Webster (CCbySA2.0)
Difficulty: Moderately challenging
Distance (km): 19 km loop
Why you want to hike this trail: Take in the scenic lookouts, lakes and rivers found along this varied trail.
Trail notes: Experience some excellent backcountry camping on an extensive hiking trail network, in one of the most well-known parks in Canada. The Highland Backpacking Trail is a great overnight hike in Algonquin, Ontario’s first provincial park.
The trail begins on Highway 60, near the Mew Lake Campground and circles back around at Provoking Lake. Information and registration is at the Mew Lake Campground office. Backpackers can choose between a 19 km and a 35 km loop.
Where to setup camp: The 19 km loop is a moderately challenging hike that should be doable for most new backpackers in one overnight. Set up camp overnight around Provoking Lake, there are a few designated sites.
Read more about this trail: Algonquinpark.on.ca/highland-backpacking-trail
Mdaabii Miikna Trail
Pukaskwa National Park
Distance (km): 25 km loop
Why you want to hike this trail: Take in the serene boreal forest and the impressive Lake Superior coastline at Picture Rock Harbour.
Trail notes: Hikers can enjoy a memorable 1-2 night backcountry outing on this brand new trail in Pukaskwa National Park. Running alongside the shoreline of Lake Superior, this loop trail is accessed south of Playter Harbour and north of the White River Suspension Bridge along the Coastal Hiking Trail.
Where to setup camp: Hike from Hattie Cove to Picture Rock Harbour South on the first night (10.15 km), then to Playter Harbour South for the second night (4.25 km), continue back to Hattie Cove on day 3 (9.75 km).
Read more about this trail: Click here
Kabeyun Trail, Talus Lake Trail & Top of the Giant Trail
Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
Flickr/Justin Meissen (CCbySA2.0)
Difficulty: Easy to intermediate
Distance (km): 22 km trip
Why you want to hike this trail: Breathtaking views of Lake Superior and the surrounding area, as well as spectacular land features such as the Sea Lion, Tee Harbour, and towering cliffs.
Trail notes: Boasting some of the highest cliffs in Ontario, this stunning provincial park is likely the most prominent land feature that can be seen from Thunder Bay. Although it may look like an island on Lake Superior, it is actually a long peninsula with drive-in access from the Trans-Canada Highway.
Take the Kabeyun Trail to Tee Harbour and setup camp around there. Either that day or the following morning hike the Talus Lake Trail to the more challenging Top of the Giant Trail to enjoy the spectacular views from the top. Make your way back down and return to your camp at Tee Harbour.
Where to setup camp: Tee Harbour, or at other designated sites along the Kabeyun Trail.
Written by Aric Fishman, author of 'Thunder Bay Climbing: A Guide to Northwestern Ontario's Best Kept Secret'
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