There are so many amazing winter hikes in Ontario that you need to explore this year. While hiking in the ice and snow can seem daunting, it’s worth braving the cold. While a list of the best Ontario winter hikes is totally debatable and there are a seemingly endless amount of trails to choose from, you can’t go wrong with any of these ones.
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Here are 20 of the best Ontario winter hikes to experience. Whether the scene is set with a light dusting of snow or you encounter a completely frozen waterfall, there’s a little bit of magic at every one of these parks, conservation areas, and trails. I’m sure you’ll agree and come away with some awesome memories!
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Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is about an hour from Thunder Bay, and it’s well worth the trip up north in the winter. While the Top of the Giant may be inaccessible during the snowy season, there are lots of spectacular wintery trails that will make you fall in love with this park. Plus, it’s far less busy in the winter, perfect for those who seek silence and solitude in nature.
Sleeping Giant Provincial Park has over 100km of hiking trails, including the 40km Kabeyun Trail. There are numerous peaceful lakes, gorgeous scenic outlooks, and intriguing rock formations. I recommend tackling the Sea Lion Trail where you’ll see the stunning natural arch pictured above. It’s a relatively short trek with a big payoff. These trails can get icy, so I suggest strapping on a pair of microspikes there.
Another one of the top winter hikes in Ontario at Sleeping Giant is the Middlebrun Bay Trail. The trail leads to an isolated beach at Middlebrun Bay with amazing views of Lake Superior. While the parks office is closed in the winter, you can spend the night at cozy cabins within the property. I spent two nights in a cabin at Sleeping Giant PP and it was a wonderful experience.
Winter Hikes in Ontario: Kakabeka Falls
Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park is only a half hour drive west of Thunder Bay, and it’s one of the top things to do in Thunder Bay in the winter. At 40 metres high, Kakabeka Falls is the second highest waterfall in Ontario. It’s also called the “Niagara Falls of the North”.
Kakabeka Falls is brilliant in all seasons, but it looks really beautiful in the winter. The surrounding rocks are covered in snow and ice, and sections of it are completely frozen. However, most of its powerful, rushing waters will never freeze over. The waterfall viewing platform is only a short walk from the parking lot. You will need to bundle up as the mist off the waterfall is absolutely frigid in the winter.
There are a few other hiking trails at Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park: the Mountain Portage Trail (1.25km loop), the Little Falls Trail (2.5km loop), Poplar Point Trail (4km loop), and two additional loop trails off the Poplar Point Trail. Its also possible to go snowshoeing at Kakabeka Falls PP, as well as cross-country skiing.
Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls is a majestic waterfall that you need to see in all seasons. Located on Manitoulin Island, water from the Kagawong River plunges over the rocks at a height of 35 feet (11 metres). Bridal Veil Falls is one of the most beautiful frozen waterfalls in Ontario in the winter. It’s possible to walk behind the waterfall, too!
As for the hiking trail itself, it is a relatively short walk from the parking lot to the waterfall. You can walk along the Kagawong River and even continue hiking right to Kagawong and Lake Huron. Definitely seize the opportunity to visit the prettiest waterfall on Manitoulin Island, and you’ll need to add this to your list of Ontario’s frozen waterfalls to see in the winter.
Killarney Provincial Park
Killarney Provincial Park is a true winter wonderland where you’ll be able to savour some quiet moments in the north. There are several of the greatest winter hikes in Ontario at Killarney PP, including the Crack, Killarney’s most famous hiking trail. It’s a 6km difficult trek that leads up to some astoundingly beautiful views at the top of the Killarney Ridge.
You can also go snowshoeing on some shorter, less intense trails around the park, like the Granite Ridge Trail (2km), the Chikanishing Trail (3km), and the Lake of The Woods Trail (3.5km). Don’t attempt to hike the Crack in the winter unless you have a reasonable level of fitness and you start earlier in the day. Nightfall arrives much more quickly during the winter months in Ontario.
If you’re looking to make a weekend of it, Killarney PP has a pair of rustic cabins for a comfy accommodation in the wilderness. There are also six Mongolian inspired yurts for a glamping experience. You can even go winter camping if you want more of an outdoor adventure!
Morris Island Conservation Area
Morris Island Conservation Area lies on the Ottawa River near Fitzroy Harbour. Hike on 6km of trails through woodlands and across wetlands on a dreamy island. There are several different hiking trails that aren’t too challenging, and all of the trails are well marked. You can hike on the Old Voyageur Trail, the Miner’s Trail, the Island Loop, and the Chats Falls Trail.
Most of these paths all connect to one another and form big loops, making them easy to navigate. Along the way, you’ll encounter several scenic lookout points from various vantage points on the island. Morris Island Conservation Area is one of the best winter hikes in Ontario, especially if you live in the Ottawa region.
Algonquin Provincial Park
Algonquin Provincial Park is the oldest provincial park in Canada, established back in 1893. It’s also the largest provincial park in Ontario with over 8000 square kilometres of lakes, forests and rivers in the rugged Canadian Shield. There are numerous hiking trails scattered throughout the park. I’ll make a few recommendations for the winter months.
If you’re looking for a shorter winter hike, try the Two Rivers Trail (2.5km) or the Hemlock Bluff Trail (3.5km). The Barron Canyon Trail is another short trek (1.6km) with stunning scenery. For those who are more experienced, you should tackle the Track and Tower Trail (7.5km) which features a beautiful lookout point. The Mizzy Lake Trail (11km loop) is another challenging yet rewarding hike, especially in the winter.
If you’re interested in going hiking at Algonquin Park in the winter, be sure to check out the park’s official winter guide.
Winter Hiking in Ontario: Arrowhead Provincial Park
Arrowhead Provincial Park is a snowy playground with so many fun activities for the whole family. In the winter, you can go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, and even tubing! Please note that the skating has a limited capacity during the pandemic and the tubing is not operating right now.
Please take note of which trails are ski trails in the winter months as snowshoeing and walking are not allowed on these. If you’re looking to go snowshoeing, there are several loop trails: Stubb’s Falls Loop (2km), Mayflower Lake Trail (1km), and Hemlock Ridge (connects the two loop trails). Arrowhead Provincial Park gets very busy on the weekends, so I recommend checking it out on a weekday if it’s possible.
Hardy Lake Provincial Park
Hardy Lake Provincial Park is a non-operating park without any facilities, and it’s a wonderful place for winter hikes in Ontario. The trail is well marked and there are several lookout points along the way.
There are a few options for winter hikes at Hardy Lake Provincial Park. First, there’s the 9km trail around the perimetre of Lake Hardy for the full experience. There are a few boardwalks along the way and loads of scenic viewpoints. If you’d like a shorter hike, there are also two different 3km loop trails that both run along portions of the lake.
Silent Lake Provincial Park
Silent Lake Provincial Park is one of the top nature destinations in Ontario for outdoor winter activities. You can go winter camping or stay in a cozy cabin or yurt by night. By day, there are more than 34km of cross-country ski trails and 8km of snowshoeing trails.
Bonnie’s Pond Trail is a 3km loop trail that runs through a mature beech tree forest and past a beaver pond. There’s also a groomed portion of the 5km Yellow Ski Trail loop made for snowshoeing, too.
Warsaw Caves Conservation Area
The Warsaw Caves Conservation Area is an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest, operated by the Otonabee Region Conservation Authority. While the caverns themselves are closed during the winter months, it’s a fantastic place to go snowshoeing.
There are 15km of hiking trails at Warsaw Caves Conservation Area that pass across open limestone plains and through dense forests. The Lookout Trail is a must visit spot as you’ll eventually reach a beautiful lookout point over the Indian River.
Pretty River Valley Provincial Park
Pretty River Valley Provincial Park is a geologically significant site and one of the highest points of the Niagara Escarpment. It is a non-operating park without any facilities, and it’s open all year long. Pretty River Valley PP is a fantastic place to go snowshoeing in Ontario, and it’s part of the Bruce Trail.
There are a number of Ontario winter hiking trails at Pretty River Valley PP. You can stick to the main Bruce Trail or explore a number of side trails. The Pretty River Side Trail is an excellent option. You can also take the John Haigh Side Trail to visit the highest point on the Bruce Trail. The Russ McConnell Side Trail also connects back to the Bruce Trail should you wish to continue on to Petun Conservation Area.
Mono Cliffs Provincial Park
Mono Cliffs Provincial Park is a popular place to go hiking in the winter because it’s unique and picturesque in all seasons. There are numerous hiking trails, you can walk past gigantic cliffs, and even hike through a canyon. Depending on the amount of snow, you can likely get away with sporting hiking boots and microspikes for the icier portions of the trail.
There are several trails to explore: the Carriage Trail (1.3km), Walter Tovell Trail (4.8km), McCarston’s Trail (3.6km), the Spillway Trail (1.3km), the South Outlier Trail (3.5km), the Cliff Top Side Trail (2.8km), the Lookout Trail (600m) and the Link Trail (600m). You’ll likely want to visit at least a couple of times for the full experience!
Forks of the Credit Provincial Park
Forks of the Credit Provincial Park is a gorgeous park situated on the Bruce Trail, along with several side trails. It’s a moderate hike with many small and larger hills throughout your journey. You also need to check out the stunning Cataract Falls, although the trail near the waterfall is currently under construction and no longer forms a loop.
I suggest hiking towards Cataract Falls, and then continuing your journey on the Bruce Trail and the side trails. I walked from the waterfall down the Bruce Trail and cut back up the escarpment on the Dorothy Medhurst Side Trail. It eventually loops back around to the start for approximately an 8km trek.
Forks of the Credit Provincial Park is an all season favourite among those living in the GTA. It can get very busy on weekends, even in the wintertime. I suggest getting there early or visiting on a weekday.
Best Winter Hikes in Ontario: Scotsdale Farm
Scotsdale Farm is an Ontario Heritage Trust site on the site of an old farm. The hiking trails there are managed by the Bruce Trail Conservancy, and they include the Bruce Trail and its side trails. Scotsdale Farm is home to some of Ontario’s oldest trees, and many of these woodlands are part of an old growth forest. Many trees are 150-200 years old and some are even over 250 years old!
There are several hiking trails at Scotsdale Farm, though we stuck mostly to the Bennett Heritage Trail and the main Bruce Trail. In the winter, these trails get a bit icy, so it’s important to wear microspikes or icers and plan according to the conditions. Don’t let that stop you from visiting.
In fact, Scotsdale Farm offers some of the best winter hikes in Ontario. You’ll walk through peaceful forests, past gentle streams and cascades, and across snow-covered wooden bridges. Experiencing Scotsdale Farm was one of my favourite winter hikes in Ontario this year by far.
Rouge National Urban Park
Rouge National Urban Park in Toronto offers beautiful nature hikes all year long. Even though this national park is within the city limits, you’ll feel really far removed from city life. The trails at Rouge Park are not maintained in the winter, but they’re pretty well trekked. If there’s snow, I’m sure that it will be packed down by fellow hikers. Be sure to pack your microspikes just in case there’s ice on the paths.
There are many hiking trails at Rouge Park, and there’s even an app that you can download to help you navigate the trails (along with interesting facts on the way!). Rouge National Urban Park has amazing biodiversity in its Carolinian ecosystems. It also has one of the largest marshes in the Toronto area, one of Canada’s oldest known Indigenous sites, and human history going back at least 10,000 years. Enjoy nature and learn a thing or two along the way.
Ontario Winter Hikes: Mount Nemo Conservation Area
Mount Nemo Conservation Area is a fantastic Conservation Halton hike. To be honest, I could have added any of the Halton conservation areas to this list: Hilton Falls, Rattlesnake Point, Crawford Lake…they’re all spectacular in the winter.
Mount Nemo Conservation Area has a unique cliff edge ecosystem, and it’s one of the best examples of one in the province. Lots of plants and animals live along the edge of the cliff, including chipmunks, warblers, indigenous ferns and ancient cedar trees. There’s a good chance that you’ll be able to observe turkey vultures soaring above the escarpment.
Mount Nemo is a visited a little less than the popular ones (Rattlesnake Point and Hilton Falls), but there are equally amazing winter hiking trails there. You can savour a stunning view for a good portion of the hike, and there are really interesting crevices and rock formations on the way. A lot of the trails at Mount Nemo are part of the Bruce Trail, so you just know that you’re in for a treat.
Tiffany Falls and Sherman Falls
One of the prettiest winter hikes in Ontario features two magical frozen waterfalls: Tiffany Falls and Sherman Falls. You’ll exit the Bruce Trail for a very short walk to reach Tiffany Falls. Tiffany Falls is a 21 metre high ribbon waterfall that is simply brilliant in all seasons. The last time I went to Tiffany Falls in the winter, it was a frozen wonderland.
Sherman Falls is a 17 metre high curtain waterfall that’s one of the prettiest frozen waterfalls in Hamilton. In the middle of the forest, Sherman Falls is quite picturesque and only a short distance from the Bruce Trail. You can also continue on beyond Sherman Falls on the Bruce Trail to a third waterfall called Canterbury Falls.
The walk between Tiffany Falls and Sherman Falls is a little under 4km, but they each have their own parking lots if you decide to drive between them. I highly recommend that you hike to Canterbury Falls from Sherman Falls to see the third waterfall. If you’re interested in seeing more waterfalls in Hamilton, I suggest checking out my Hamilton waterfalls guide with multiple itineraries.
Short Hills Provincial Park
Short Hills Provincial Park offers amazing winter hikes in Ontario. It’s a non-operational provincial park, meaning that the trails are open but there aren’t any facilities. It’s the largest park in Niagara Region at 1600 acres, so there are lots of great paths to explore all year long.
You can go hiking on the Bruce Trail at Short Hills Provincial Park or take one of the numerous park trails. The Swazye Falls Trail forms one giant loop in the park, plus you’ll have the chance to see the beautiful frozen Swazye Falls. I’ve visited this waterfall in the summertime where it had completely dried up, but you won’t run that risk in the winter.
Short Hills PP offers calm and quiet winter hiking trails in Ontario, and it’s so pretty, too. You likely won’t even feel that cold either – hiking up and down all of the little hills will keep your body feeling energized and warm. It’s called Short Hills for a reason!
Ontario Winter Hikes: Pinery Provincial Park
Pinery Provincial Park offers flat and easy nature trails on the edge of Lake Huron in southwestern Ontario. Pinery PP is a unique natural place to visit in the province all year long. It’s the largest remaining tract of Oak Savanna in the province. It’s also home to one of the lengthiest freshwater coastal dune ecosystems in Ontario.
There are two main hiking trails that are properly maintained in the winter months: the Cedar Trail (2.3km loop) and the Heritage Trail (2.5km). The Cedar Trail features a wooden boardwalk that leads to wonderful views of the Old Ausable Channel, which is partially frozen in the wintertime.
While a trip to the beach might not be on your winter bucket list, you’ll want to at least take a peek down by the waterfront at Pinery Provincial Park. Lake Huron is so beautiful in the winter, whether you’re checking out the scenery by day or for the famous sunsets. Spend the night in a cozy winterized yurt at Pinery PP for the full experience.
Point Pelee National Park
Point Pelee National Park is the southernmost portion of mainland Canada, extending out into Lake Erie. There are five unique Carolinian habitats in the park (forest, dry forest, savannah, swamp, and marsh), as well as over 370 species of birds throughout the year.
There are many hiking trails at Point Pelee National Park that are accessible in the winter, too. It’s possible that you might enjoy some slightly milder weather in this southern Ontario region, so you likely won’t need to strap on the snowshoes. You can essentially hike to the southern tip of Canada and gaze out at the icy waters of Lake Erie.
Spend the night at the park’s oTENTik accommodations. Gaze up to the night sky in the evening: Point Peele is an official Dark Sky Preserve. Whether you’re going for the day or staying overnight, Point Pelee has some of the best Ontario winter hikes.
Map of Winter Hiking Trails in Ontario
Here’s a map of the best winter hikes in Ontario so you can see them all visually displayed. I tried to choose a good variety of trails from regions all over the province.
Do you want to save this map for future reference? If you click the star beside the map title, you can save the map to your Google Maps account. Then, access it from your own Google Maps app (listed under “your places” and then “maps”).
What to Bring on a Winter Hiking Trip
Your packing list for a winter hiking trip will look much different than one in the summer! Here are some important things to consider bringing with you on a winter day hike.
- Waterproof day pack
- Water bottle for cold drinks or insulated bottle for hot drinks
- Hand warmers / toe warmers
- 3-in-1 jacket (for men and for women)
- Insulating layers (base layer top for women and for men)
- Base layer tights (for men and for women)
- Snow pants
- Swiss Army knife
- Warm hat, scarf, and mittens
- Waterproof hiking boots or winter boots
- Fast Mask neck gaiter
- Portable charger for cell phone (phone battery dies quicker in the cold!)
- Flashlight or headlamp (the sun goes down more quickly)
- Hiking poles
- Snacks / trail mix
- At least one change of hiking socks
More Ontario Winter Hiking Tips
Looking for more articles about winter hikes in Ontario? Here are some great places to go winter hiking in Toronto and the GTA (including snowshoeing!). You might want to download some of these best hiking apps to your phone (some are for fun and some are practical).
In addition to the trails that I’ve mentioned above, you might also consider tackling one of these longest hiking trails in Ontario, a portion of the Bruce Trail, or a segment of The Great Trail. There are so many possibilities for amazing Ontario winter hikes, so get out there as soon as you can!
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