This is our old stomping grounds.... literally! Discover our favourite hikes (and best tips) for Northeastern Ontario.
If you ask anyone around the world what they envision when they think of “Canada”, there’s a good chance they’ll unknowingly describe Northeastern Ontario. The region’s incredible lush landscapes, including expansive fields, craggy rocks, brilliant lakes, and vibrant colors, create the classic image of Canadiana. Happily, it’s all real and it’s all accessible to visitors. And even better, it’s all value travel friendly, making this area one of Canada’s best when it comes to bang for your buck.
Ryan and I know the area well. Ryan’s family is from the area and we’ve spent a lot of time here. Our favourite time to visit is during the fall, when the mosquitos are scarce and the autumn colors are incredible, but with a little planning you can enjoy these special hiking routes nearly year round (some even have winter accessibility for snow shoeing!) Here are our top choices:
Bridal Veil Falls, Manitoulin Island.
Accessible directly off Highway 540, the short hike to the top of the Bridal Veil Falls (35 feet high) is hugely rewarding. The falls of course are beautiful but the surrounding area is stunning as well. There are two parking lots and two approaches: one from the top of the outdoor steel staircase next to the falls and another from a few hundred yards down the trail, past some of the rapids. Bring along your swimsuit so you can splash in the pool at the falls' base when you're done!
Pro tip: Obviously every successful hike needs to be rewarded with a hearty meal. The Lake Huron Fish & Chip Co (on Manitoulin’s south shore) is a resident’s favourite and features fresh, locally caught fish.
Devil’s Rock, Temiskaming Shores
This granite escarpment is over 2 million years old and rises 300 feet above the lake. Hugely popular with rock climbers, far wimpier travelers (and I definitely count myself in that group!) will still love the hiking in the area.
Without even realizing it, you may have “seen” Devil’s Rock before. This region was home to Canadian writer Leslie McFarlane, the ghost writer behind many cherished childhood classics, including several of the Hardy Boys novels. The local environment influenced many of McFarlane’s works, especially “The House On The Cliff” (under the name Franklin W. Dixon).
Pro tip: It’s not only literary fans who will enjoy this area. History buffs should take a detour to visit the Cobalt Mining Museum to appreciate camp life during the area’s silver boom.
Duchesnay Falls, North Bay
Just a short detour from Highway 17, hiking around Duchesnay Falls might just be the perfect break from a long drive through Northern Ontario. The waterfall is picturesque, with two drops of nearly 15 feet. The moderate hike to the falls is approximately 3 kilometers long and, while there are no sharp drops, the rocks are slippery when wet and there are no fences. Budding photographers will want to bring along their gear - especially in autumn, when the colors are stunning.
Pro tip: North Bay is developing quite the reputation for craft beer. Two top choices include Cecil’s Brew House and Kitchen and the New Ontario Brewing Company.
Cup and Saucer, Manitoulin Island
With over 12 kilometers of hiking trails to explore, this gateway to the highest peak of Manitoulin Island is one of the most popular hiking areas in Ontario. Hikes range from 15 minutes to 4 hours at many different degrees of difficulty, so there will be something for all travelers.
Located 18 km West of Little Current at the junction of Hwy. 540 and Bidwell Rd, it’s fairly common to start on the “wrong” trail. If this sounds like a mistake you’re likely to make (trust me, I did too), here’s a great resource on how to tell the “right” and “wrong” trails apart. Don't worry - not all the hikes involve heights!
Pro tip: If you feel like giving your legs a different kind of workout, Manitoulin Island is a fantastic place for cycling – or you can give your legs a break entirely and embrace motorcycling, which is quite popular in the area.
Caribou Mountain Tower, Temagami
Just one kilometer from Highway 11, the summit of Caribou Mountain is home to a 100 foot high fire tower with a remarkable history. A tower has stood on or near this site since 1910 and, until about 25 years ago, was an invaluable resource for local rangers in the prevention of forest fires. You can expect some amazing views along the hike and, of course, at the summit – you don’t want to leave your camera behind! The $3 admission fee includes entrance to the interpretive center, which kids will especially love.
Pro tip: Lake Temagami is a great spot for paddling and fishing, but even recreational fishing requires a license. This can easily and inexpensively be obtained from a large number of authorized realtors (including many local outfitters).
Remember your hiking basics
No matter which route tickles your fancy, remember your hiking safety basics! Regardless of the weather conditions and intended length of hike, always bring ample provisions of water, high energy snacks, protective products (sunscreen, bug spray, windbreaker jacket, first aid kit), and communication devices (with the understanding that you may not always have reception). Always let someone know where you’re going and when you intend to be back. And follow the wilderness guide to take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints.
Northeastern Ontario is one of the most beautiful regions of Canada and the absolute best way to appreciate this beauty is to lace up your hikers and hit the trails. No matter how adventurous or athletic you are, you’ll be sure to find a hike that’s just the right fit for your abilities and travel style and you’re sure to capture some incredible photographs and make some amazing memories.
We'd love to hear from you! Where's your favourite spot to hike?
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