Canoeing is so strongly entrenched in the history of Canada and with some 250,000 lakes and 100,000 km of rivers you'll have no shortage of water to dip your paddle in when you visit Ontario. In fact, Ontario has more canoe routes than any other region in the world. Some of our best canoeing can be done in our vast and unspoiled provincial and national parks like Pukaskwa National Park in northern Ontario. Located on the shores of Lake Superior, this wilderness national park is fly, hike or boat in only - there are no roads here! The canoe routes in Temagami Provinical Park are the very same travelled by the legendary Grey Owl and a trip through Killarney Provincial Park will surely be an unforgettable one after witnessing its gleaming white quartz cliffs and iconic Jack Pine Trees – scenery you won't find anywhere else in the country. Bring your own canoe, rent one from an experienced canoe outfitter or simply borrow one when the mood strikes you during a leisurely stay at a lakeside Ontario resort.
Whether camping in a tent for two, in your own recreational vehicle or at a fully serviced campsite, get back to nature in one of our many campgrounds. There are hundreds of private campgrounds across the province offering a variety of experiences from sandy beaches to tennis courts and even outdoor theatre.
Then there are our remote and unspoiled wildernesses like our protected provincial and national parks – renowned for their rugged and natural beauty. Many of our parks have distinctive features, like Petrogylphs Provincial Park in eastern Ontario. The largest known concentration of ancient Aboriginal rock carvings, or petroglyphs, in Canada is located here. The petroglyphs are hundreds of years old, created in the pre-Columbian era, and depict aspects of First Nations spirituality.
Then there is Algonquin Provincial Park, perhaps our most famous. The park is Ontario's first designated provincial park and its 7,630 square kilometres capture the romance of Ontario's wilderness. Many books have been inspired by the park, there is an Algonquin Symphony and paintings of its landscapes by Canada's famed Group of Seven art collective hang in the National Gallery.
The romance of Muskoka's picturesque lakes just wouldn't be complete without a classic Ditchburn gliding across them. Nor would the flowing Jack Pines of Killarney Provincial Park find their rhythm unless accompanied by the billowing sails of a sailboat discovering the park's delightful bays and fjords. That's why to really experience Ontario's vast water routes, you just have to travel by boat. The Trent-Severn Waterway will lead you through the lovely lakes of the Kawarthas region all the way northwest to Georgian Bay's clear blue depths; while the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is a marvel of engineering so test them both out in your own sailboat, yacht or houseboat. Both routes will take you through magnificent lift locks. Don't have your own vessel? Leave the navigation to one of the captains at the helm of some of our best cruising vessels like the Muskoka region's RMS Segwun, the oldest operating steamship in North America, or the Miss Midland, which meanders through Georgian Bay's scenic 30,000 Islands. Hundreds of marinas dot our shores with the services you need to make the most of a boating holiday.
4) Whitewater Rafting
We think of whitewater rafting as nature's "rapid transit" – a thrilling adventure in the fast flowing rivers of Ontario. Ontario boasts the largest rapids east of Colorado, ranging from beginner to Class 5 routes. The Madawaska and Ottawa rivers in eastern Ontario offer the best whitewater challenges in Ontario and numerous companies offer guided trips with experienced pilots, pre-trip instruction and safety equipment.
Whether you want to cast off from shore, a boat, get right in the water with hip-waders, try your hand at fly fishing or fly in to a remote unspoiled lake, Ontario is an angler's paradise. A great variety of freshwater fish can be found in our waters from trout and bass to whitefish, walleye and sturgeon. Ontario also has the largest salmon run east of the Rocky Mountains. A shore lunch at an Ontario resort, featuring your catch of the day, is a typical Ontario past time while fly-in camps in northern Ontario are known the world over to die hard fisherman.
Canada may not seem synonymous with beaches, but consider that 4 of the 5 Great Lakes surround this province and you’ll soon be itching to discover Ontario's beaches. Whether it's for swimming, playing beach volleyball or just to soak up the sun we have a beach for you. The beaches of Sandbanks Provincial Park are a great place to start with their giant and rolling sand dunes - the deepest even have staircases for easier climbing! Did you know that Ontario has the longest freshwater beach in the world? Wasaga Beach, just 2 hours north of Toronto, is 14 km long and hugs the southern shores of beautiful Georgian Bay. Even Toronto recognizes its lake side setting with its eponymous Beach neighbourhood. Just minutes from the city's downtown core, it's where you'll find hundreds of city dwellers each summer weekend. Of course the more daring have taken the ferry over to Toronto Islands' Hanlon's Point where you can not only leave your cares behind, but your swimsuit as well since it's the city's only clothing optional beach!
Put your feet to the test on one of our incredible hiking trails. The varied geography of Ontario means that there are literally hundreds of trails to choose from, winding through ever changing landscapes. The Bruce Trail is a must though. At over 800 km in length, it is Canada's oldest and longest continuous footpath. The trail stretches from Queenston near Niagara Falls, to the tip of the Bruce Peninsula. The trail can be accessed at many points and camping is permissible at campsites along the route. Since the trail moves along the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere, you'll witness some of the most remarkable and unique flora and fauna in the world! Of course, the provincial and national parks have hundreds of trails throughout them and many provide trail maps to help guide your way.
For those who like to bike, leisurely or on a mountain bike, there are hundreds of kilometres of trails to explore. Most of our hiking trails are also perfect for navigating on bike. You can rent a bike and cycle on the Toronto Islands or follow the Waterfront Trail, which stretches 450 kms from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Brockville, leading you through Lake Ontario's waterfront communities. Hop aboard the "Bike Train" where you can take your bike on VIA Rail's (Canada's passgenger rail service) dedicated bike car to get you started farther a field to communities north and south of Toronto like North Bay and Niagara Region. For instance, load your bike at Toronto's Union Station, pull on your complimentary Bike Train tee shirt and make your way to Niagara Falls. From there unload and head out on the well-marked Wine Route to discover the Niagara Wine Region's many wineries.
Ontario is truly blessed with some of the world's most beautiful nature and it's where you'll find more than 400 varieties of wild birds. Canada geese, loons, warblers, bald eagles, white pelicans – they're all here. Point Pelee National Park is one the world's greatest natural bird sanctuaries since it's where the "Atlantic" and "Mississippi" migratory flyways converge. As such, the park serves as the breeding ground for more than 300 avian species. Canadian conservationist Jack Miner, dubbed the "father of North American Conservationism", helped designate the park and founded Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary on Pelee Island. Moving from the southern tip of Ontario to the far unspoiled north, Lake of the Woods is where you can find pelicans, herons and bald eagles to cross off your spotters list.
10) Tree Top Walks & Suspension Bridges
For the adventure traveller, Ontario has several “canopy walks” and suspension bridges to explore. At Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve’s canopy walk, your adventure begins in a freighter canoe as you paddle across a glistening lake to a stand of old growth pine where you’ll find a hemlock suspension path that allows you to literally walk among the tree tops to a maximum height of 36.5 metres. Along the way, stop at a tree top platform as your knowledgeable guide introduces you to the surrounding flora and fauna. At Scenic Caves Nature Adventures in Collingwood, walk across a suspension bridge for spectacular views of Georgian Bay or take part in a tree top walk that ends with a zip line to the finish! Eagle Canyon Adventures, an hour east of Thunder Bay, has a suspension bridge that is part of an outdoor recreation facility and offers breathtaking views of the canyon, lakes and vistas of northern Ontario’s renowned wilderness.