Do you love a challenge? Setting small or big goals is a great motivational tool. I have personally challenged myself to hike the Bruce Trail – yes, the entire 900km trail – even though I know it will take years only doing a few hikes a year. As it turns out, there are lots of lengthy places to go hiking in Ontario.
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I’ve gathered this list of the best hiking trails in Ontario that are over 100km. Whether you decide to tackle these all in one go over several days or weeks, or you decide to make it a more long term goal (like me and ol’ Brucey), it’s a great way to see more of our beautiful province.
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Best Hiking Trails in Ontario (100km+)
Here are the best hiking trails in Ontario that are over 100km in length. You might be surprised that there are so many cool places to hike in Ontario! There are many paved paths that are suitable for walking or cycling. Some of the paths meander around the Great Lakes or lead to the most stunning scenery in Ontario. You’ll want to add these Ontario walking trails to your list of places to go hiking, stat.
The Waterfront Trail (3000km)
The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail is a 3000km route along Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, Lake Erie, Lake Huron, and Georgian Bay. It connects 155 communities, villages, and First Nations. The Waterfront Trail runs through four UNESCO World Biosphere Reserves, six national parks, 42 provincial parks, 83 conservation areas, and 520 waterfront parks. For this reason alone, it’s one of the best hiking trails in Ontario.
I’d say that this is one of the top Ontario walking trails or cycling trails. Most of the trail is paved and runs along the waterfront, although there are some sections of gravel roads and unpaved paths.
If you’re looking for a dense forest trail, this might not be what you’re looking for. However, if you’re interested in gorgeous lake views and discovering the villages, communities, and history of our province, you’ll love it. I’m so fortunate that The Waterfront Trail is right in my own backyard. I can walk down the street to Lake Ontario and connect with the trail in Port Credit.
There are four main sections of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail: Lake Ontario/St. Lawrence, Lake Erie, Lake Huron, and Lake Huron North Channel. I also see that there are a few new proposed routes, so keep your eyes on their trail maps and updates for additional Ontario walking trails. I suggest going to the downloadable maps section of their website to get the maps for each section.
The Bruce Trail (900km)
If you’re looking for the ultimate places to hike in southern Ontario, the Bruce Trail is what you’re after. The Bruce Trail is the oldest and longest continuous marked hiking trail in Canada. It runs along the Niagara Escarpment between Niagara and Tobermory in Southern Ontario. The Bruce Trail is 900km in length with over 400km of side trails.
There are nine sections of the Bruce Trail, organized into clubs. Each club has the responsibility of maintaining the route and rerouting the Trail when necessary. Many clubs will organize group hikes, educational lectures, and other events for members and the public. Before setting out on your Bruce Trail hiking adventures, I recommend getting a copy of the Bruce Trail Guide or download the Bruce Trail app. There are end to end hiking challenges for the entire Bruce Trail, as well as each club’s section.
If you go hiking in southern Ontario, you might have even hiked the Bruce Trail without even realizing it. Anytime you see white blazes on the trees in southern Ontario, you’re likely on the Bruce. The blue blazes denote the Bruce side trails. The Bruce Trail runs through many Ontario conservation areas and scenic sections of the Niagara Escarpment. So, which section of the Bruce Trail will you tackle first?
The Voyageur Trail (600km)
The Voyageur Trail is a discontinuous public hiking trail between Sudbury and Thunder Bay in northern Ontario. Since 1973, the Voyageur Trail Association has worked to build a continuous wilderness-style hiking trail, running parallel to the shores of Lake Huron and Lake Superior. For now, feel free to tackle 600km of trails, organized into five sections/clubs.
The trail blazing system of the Voyageur Trail is modeled after the Bruce Trail. You’ll see white blazes for the main trail, blue blazes for lookouts, and yellow blazes for a loop trail. Most notably, the Voyageur Trail runs through Pukaskwa National Park (also known as the Lake Superior Coastal Trail), Lake Superior Provincial Park, Pancake Bay Provincial Park, and Casque Isles.
You can find online trail maps here or there’s a guide book for the Voyageur Trail, too. Here are some local shops where you can find the guide book or you can also purchase it through the Voyageur Trail Association website.
The Ganaraska Trail (500km)
The Ganaraska Trail is a 500km stretch of hiking trails from Port Hope on Lake Ontario to the Bruce Trail near Collingwood. There are also side trails to Wasaga Beach and Midland. The word “Ganaraska” comes from the river named after the village, Ganaraske, once located at the mouth of the Ganaraska River. There are nine sections/clubs of the Ganaraska Trail, and there’s even an end to end hiking challenge for those who hike the entire trail.
Much like the Bruce Trail, the main Ganaraska Trail has white trail blazes with blue trail blazes for the side trails. While you can find trail maps on the official website, the Ganaraska Trail Association offers all of their maps for free using the Ondago app. Download the free Ondago app from your app store and search for “Ganaraska” to view all of the hiking trails. The Ganaraska Trail is one of the best hiking trails in Ontario as it’s a continuous trail that ventures through many scenic and wild areas of southern Ontario.
The Rideau Trail (387km)
The Rideau Trail is a 387km network of trails extending between Kingston and Ottawa. Generally, the trail follows the Rideau Canal and its tributary waters. You’ll hike through a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are three trail clubs and 19 maps of the Rideau Trail, and you can download the maps for free. For those seeking a challenge, there are badges that you can earn for completing sections of the trail (or the whole thing).
The trails are marked with red-orange triangles northbound to Ottawa, whereas these red-orange triangles have yellow tips going southbound to Kingston. There are also side trails that are marked with blue triangles. Make sure that you have the most updated version of the maps before you head out as some trails can be rerouted from time to time.
Most notably, sections of the Rideau Trail extend through Frontenac Provincial Park, Foley Mountain Conservation Area, and the Marlborough Forest. While much of the trail runs through private property, there are only opportunities for camping in designated areas on the maps for those looking to do an end to end hike over multiple days.
The Grand Valley Trail (250km)
The Grand Valley Trail is one of the best places to hike in southern Ontario. This is the lengthiest trail in southwestern Ontario that follows the Grand River watershed. It starts in the town of Alton (near Orangeville) and ends in Port Maitland (near Dunnville). There are four sections of trail. It’s possible to earn badges when you complete each one (or the entire end to end of the trail).
Follow the white trail blazes to stay on the path. To view maps of the Grand Valley Trail, download the Ondago app and search for “Grand Valley Trail”. There are five maps in total, and you can map your progress along the trail as you hike. There’s also a print version of the guidebook if you prefer. Notably, the Grand Valley Trail passes through or near LaFortune Conservation Area and Rockpoint Provincial Park.
Oak Ridges Trail (160km)
The Oak Ridges Trail is a place to go hiking in Ontario along the Oak Ridges Moraine. The Oak Ridges Moraine is a ridge of land that runs east to west, parallel to Lake Ontario (and about 60km north of it). It starts at the Niagara Escarpment in the west to the Trent River in the east. In total, there are 275km of trails, including the main trail and its side trails.
As part of the Greenbelt, the Moraine Forest is a green space that’s essential for a healthy eco-system in the Greater Toronto Area and beyond. Its 65 rivers and streams provide safe and clean drinking water for 250,000 people living on the Moraine.
The trail is marked with white blazes, and the side trails are marked with blue blazes. There are six chapters of the Oak Ridges Moraine Trail. While there aren’t end to end challenges for each section, you can earn an end to end badge if you hike the entire thing. For maps, there’s a print version of the Oak Ridges Moraine Trail guidebook available at the Oak Ridges Trail Association online shop.
Avon Trail (121km)
The Avon Trail is an Ontario hiking trail that’s 121km in length, starting in St. Mary’s and extending to Conestogo. It’s a long connecting trail between the Grand Valley Trail and the Thames Valley Trail in southwestern Ontario. As a continuous long distance trail, it winds through many different terrains, including farmland, rivers and streams, and country back roads. The Avon Trail is marked by rectangular white blazes.
For maps of the Avon Trail, download the free Ondago app and search for “Avon Trail”. You can also download the two sections of trail from the app, so you don’t have to continually use data on your phone. You can also buy a print copy of the Avon Trail guidebook. For those who love a challenge, you can also keep track of your trails and earn an end to end badge when you complete the whole thing.
Thames Valley Trail (110km)
The Thames Valley Trail is an 110km trail connecting the Elgin Trail and the Avon Trail from Delaware to St. Mary’s. It follows the Thames and North Thames Rivers through the city of London and the Fanshawe Conservation Area. Follow the white blazes along the trail to stay on the path. In addition to the main trail, there are also several loop trails that connect to the main trail. These are an extra 26km of trails that easily loop around and provide additional places to go hiking on the way.
You can view maps of the Thames Valley Trail on the official website for free. There is also an official TVTA Guidebook that you can find at several local shops or at the London Public Library. If you’re searching for more nearby hiking in Ontario near the Thames Valley Trail, I suggest trying the West Perth Thames Nature Trail and the West Perth Wetlands.
Cataraqui Trail (103km)
The Cataraqui Trail is a 103km connected trail in eastern Ontario from Smiths Falls to Napanee. It follows the former CN rail lines, and it’s a relatively flat path. It runs through three counties: Leeds and Grenville, Frontenac, and Lennox and Addington.
The trail passes through forests and farmland, as well as lakes and swamps. The region is a natural habitat for small mammals and birds, including rabbits, foxes, otters, deer, coyotes, herons, ospreys, turkeys, and turtles.
Ottawa/Temiskaming Highland Trail (100km)
The Ottawa/Temiskaming Highland Trail is rugged hiking in Ontario through Boreal and Great Lakes forest between Latchford and Thorne, Ontario. It’s very important to plan your hikes and bring a trail map along for the journey as there isn’t cell service throughout most of the trails. I suggest downloading a copy of the Ottawa/Temiskaming Highland Trail Planner and Maps before you venture out, and refer to this document along the way.
The trail is very well marked white white signage marking the main trail and blue blazes for the side trails. There are a number of scenic lookout points marked on the map, as well as noted campsites along the way. This is one of the best hiking trails in Ontario for being immersed in the wilderness and exploring the spectacular nature of the province.
La Cloche Silhouette Trail (80km)
The La Cloche Silhouette Trail is located within Killarney Provincial Park. It’s just under 100km, but it’s a long distance hiking trail that deserves a place on this list. This trail is quite strenuous and will take 7-10 days to complete. If you’d like to do shorter day trips, it’s possible to take them from the Lake George Campground, provided that you give yourself enough time to retrace your steps back to where you started.
If there’s one hike that you should do in Killarney Provincial Park, its hiking up to the top of Killarney Ridge. You’ll ascend through gigantic tumbled borders through “The Crack”. At the top, there are stunning panoramic views and some of the best scenery in the park. The La Cloche Silouette Trail is one of the best hiking trails in Ontario for wildlife sightings, challenging trails, and gorgeous scenery.
If you’re a fan of long distance trails, check out The Great Trail. It’s the longest connected trail system not only in Canada, but the whole world!
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