How to Explore Northeastern Ontario Provincial Parks

By Carolyn Heller March 24, 2016

Ready for to explore Northeastern Ontario’s many provincial parks this spring and summer? From hiking, cycling, and standup paddle boarding, to exploring by water or by road, we’ve rounded up some ideas to help you plan for some fun outdoors.

On The Trail: Hiking

Most of the provincial parks in Northeastern Ontario have excellent hiking trails, from short family-friendly loops to challenging multi-day backpacking adventures.

You don’t have to venture far from the city to get out on the trails. Close to Sudbury, Halfway Lake Provincial Park has several hiking routes, including the child-friendly two-kilometre Moose Ridge Trail, and the six-kilometre Echo Pond Trail, where you might spot mink, beaver, and even moose along the grassy wetlands.

Pink rocks and pine trees on Killarney’s Chikanishing Trail.

Pink rocks and pine trees on Killarney’s Chikanishing Trail.

Killarney Provincial Park has some of the region’s best-known hikes. Follow the three-kilometre Chikanishing Trail for first-class views of Georgian Bay’s rocky shores, or test your mettle on The Crack, a challenging but rewarding six-kilometre route that has even more awesome vistas from the top. When you’re ready for an epic multi-day backpacking trip, plan an expedition along the 80-kilometre La Cloche Silhouette Trail.

On Manitoulin Island, you can take several short hikes through Misery Bay Provincial Park to examine the island’s woods, coastline, and alvar ecosystem, a unique flat-rock landscape.

On The River: Canoeing

Looking to explore by canoe? The vast forests and wilderness of Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park include 2,400 kilometres of interconnected canoe routes, centered around the Lady Evelyn River. Smoothwater Outfitters in nearby Temagami can help you plan your trip and rent the gear you might need.

Canoeing on Ontario's northern lakes

Canoe-tripping near Temagami.

In French River Provincial Park, you can paddle the same route that First Nations, fur traders, and French explorers followed over the centuries; make sure to check out the local history exhibits in the park’s visitor centre and take some photos on one of the North America’s largest snowmobile bridges nearby. In Samuel De Champlain Provincial Park, you can also travel along traditional river trade routes and even try out a paddle in a classic Voyageur canoe. Want to visit the Park but would rather stay in a cabin? Check out the Canadian Ecology Centre‘s cozy accommodations.

Paddlers in Grundy Lake Provincial Park.

Paddlers in Grundy Lake Provincial Park.

On The Lake: Standup Paddle Boarding

Have you discovered standup paddle boarding (SUP)? George Lake in Killarney Provincial Park is a peaceful, scenic spot to try out this increasingly popular sport. In a nearby section of the park, you can explore Chikanishing Creek and the shores of Georgian Bay by paddleboard.

The calm lakes in Grundy Lake Provincial Park offer plenty of SUP opportunities. You can rent your gear just outside the park at the Grundy Lake Supply Post.

On Two Wheels: Cycling

Kettle Lakes Provincial Park, near Timmins, has 14 kilometres of cycling trails through the forests. If you don’t have your own wheels, you can rent bikes at the park’s main gate.

Many other Northeastern Ontario parks have serene roadways where you can cycle, including Chutes Provincial Park, where you can pedal to the beach on the Aux Sables River. In Finlayson Point Provincial Park, near Temagami, and in Grundy Lake Provincial Park, park roads lead to several sandy beaches along the lakeshore.

On The Road: Driving Tours

Following the Georgian Bay Coastal Route

Following the Georgian Bay Coastal Route

How about planning a park-to-park road trip?

Drive along Georgian Bay with stops at French River Provincial Park, Killarney Provincial Park, and Chutes Provincial Park. Road trip to Temagami to explore parks like Marten River and Finlayson Point. Or pack your camping gear and explore further north, with stops at Esker Lakes Provincial Park, Kettle Lakes Provincial Park, and Rene Brunelle Provincial Park.


Travel writer Carolyn B. Heller is the author of Moon Handbooks: Ontario, a 480-page guide to the best activities and experiences, lodgings, food, and fun across the province.

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