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Ontario Outdoor Activities: Take Time to Appreciate Canada’s Truly Great Outdoors

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My home province is indeed known for many things. But it would be a mistake to come all the way here without taking advantage of some of the province’s most exciting and memorable Ontario outdoor activities! From biking to hiking and boating to camping… It’s fair to say that we know our fair share about the great outdoors. In fact, six of Parks Canada’s 48 national parks are located in Ontario, including one urban park and two marine conservation areas.

It’s worth recognizing that even when visiting major cities, even Toronto, you’re almost always a short drive away from being able to take one of those coveted deep breaths in the heart of nature. I’ve been fortunate to travel a great deal around this world of ours, and I cannot emphasize how good we have it in Ontario from a nature perspective. Whatever the season!

The outdoors, in the end, are a cause for us all to pause for a moment and to reflect. It seems like stress seems to juust melt away when we spend time around the people we love, with a blazing campfire to keep us warm. I don’t know about you, but for me, my best memories are usually the ones where I am totally in the moment, with the sky, the stars and the canopy as my backdrop.

Biking in Ontario – an easy way to experience outdoor sports in Canada

My personal favourite way to spend time outdoors in summer is on the saddle of my bike. Ontario is brimming with excellent biking trails, both on their own dedicated paths and integrated with cars. Through forest or along one of Ontario’s waterways, wherever you are, there’s good cycling to be had.

  • Ride from Guelph to Goderich on the G2G Rail Trail;
  • Ride along the Rideau Canal in our nation’s capital;
  • Get your fix for gravel riding in Peterborough & the Kawarthas;
  • Do the Grand River Cycling Loop outside Brantford;
  • Or simply decide that there’s a restaurant, brewery, conservation area or attraction you want to visit, and bike there and back.

Of course, first-time visitors to Canada will want to hop on the Waterfront Trail from Toronto to Niagara Falls for stunning views of Lake Ontario and even the famed wine region. This does require some patience and a certain skill level as the roundtrip is just under 170 kilometres.

Hiking in Ontario – a quintessential outdoor adventure for families!

Ontario is not a particularly mountainous province. But its low elevations, and abundance of lakes and forests, are absolutely stunning in the summer. With panoramic views to boot! From short and sweet to high and mighty, the opportunities are endless, and that’s part of what makes hiking so family-friendly.

My recommendation would be to start by looking at trails (which are always well marked) at your nearest provincial park, and then spread out your focal point from there.

  • The bucket-list hike for an epic adventure and incredible natural beauty, as far as I’m concerned, is the 22 kilometre round trip hike to the peak of “The Sleeping Giant” in provincial park of the same name outside Thunder Bay, on the north shore of Lake Superior;
  • Looking for something a little less intense, but no less beautiful? Then I’d recommend the hiking “The Crack” to scenic views of Killarney Provincial Park;
  • Or better yet, the Marsh Boardwalk Trail in Presqu’ile Provincial Park;
  • You can also head to Kivi Park in Sudbury for some excellent forest bathing;
  • There’s also the classic views of the turquoise Lake Huron atop the Grotto in Bruce Peninsula National Park.

If you’re near Toronto, my hometown, consider Rouge National Urban Park, Canada’s only national park within a city. The Rouge Rouge National Urban Park loop is an excellent hike to take and one of the most fun things to do on a day trip from Toronto.

The fall months are a great time to plan hikes throughout national parks in Ontario. Why? To enjoy the dazzling colors of the Canadian maple forests, which turn from bright green to vibrant reds and every color inbetween in the matter of a few weeks.

Getting out on the water in Ontario – one of the most fun things to do in the summer in Canada

Another staple of an Ontario summer spent outdoors is to get out on the water. Staying at a cottage on a pristine Canadian lake and heading out in a canoe is almost Canadian folklore at this point. There’s nothing like an early morning loon call over a calm, glassy lake to make you really feel like you’ve truly arrived in Canada. There are freshwater lakes all over the province where you can head out on, and there are a myriad of ways to enjoy them, but renting a canoe from Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park feels like a fitting choice as far as the best Ontario outdoor activities are concerned.

Of course, that’s far from your only option for water adventures.

  • For something new, why not take a ferry across Lake Erie? This is Pelee Island, the southernmost point of Canada. You and spend a couple days unplugged biking around this scenic island, sipping on wine from Vin Villa, Canada’s oldest winery;
  • Or perhaps go kayaking through the turquoise blue waters of the St. Lawrence River in the stunning Thousand Islands Region out of Ganaoque;
  • You can also always turn up the volume on your outdoor adventure by whitewater rafting in Foresters Falls on the Ottawa River which is, funny enough, where I met my now partner of 15 years, Briana!

Lover of lakes but want to try a little something different this summer? Consider scuba diving. Unbeknownst to many, Canada is a top destination for shipwreck diving! Dive into Lake Huron, in Georgian Bay, to find historic shipwrecks in Fathom Five National Marine Park. Or check out Lake Ontario’s “Bermuda Triangle” near Prince Edward County! And peruse the famed wrecks of Lake Erie.

In this case, the world is your oyster (no pun intended).

Camping in Ontario – for a uniquely Canadian travel experience

Of course I saved the best for last here! Because the absolute show-stopper of an epic adventure in Ontario is to take a camping trip. Whether you plan on staying in a roofed accommodation for a night, or heading out on a multi-day canoe or kayak trip, this is an experience you need to have on your Ontario bucket list.

Ontario is home to serene and pristine provincial parks. The most famous park, without question, is Algonquin Provincial Park. Its scenery was the inspiration for the majority of works by the famed Canadian artists The Group of Seven in the turn of the 20th century… And it’s no surprise why. With dramatic views of lakes, ponds, pine trees swept by years of wind and wildlife sightings like moose, deer, bears and more, it is an incredible place to head out on a camping trip. Book a drive-up campsite for a fun and simple experience.

But there are so many other incredible parks to camp in, too, with no shortage of Ontario outdoor activities.

Feeling adventurous? Take a multi-day portage trip! Carry all of your equipment through a series of lakes and portage trails, with your canoe on your back. A quintessentially Canadian adventure if there was one!

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