24 great Ontario day hikes to try this fall
Ontario's trails offer unique views and mostly navigable terrain. Stepping away from the crowded urban streets or exploring different scenes is easy to do thanks to the many trails that are not too far away from major metropolitan centres. If you're seeking nature and wanting to take a day trip, you'll want to explore this guide first.
Most of the trails in Ontario are provincial and require a day pass. During the time of COVID-19, this means buying your tickets online ahead of time (and some spots may require a specific booking time to avoid crowded trails). The beauty of a fall hike, though, is that most people won't be trekking to trails mid-week as the weather turns colder, but you can easily bundle up, take the day off, and head out for a day hike without running into too many people.
While the weather is still agreeable, take the time to explore Ontario's trails. Here's a look at some of the best places for a day hike in Ontario.
Dundas Peak Trail
Hiking time: 1 hour
Elevation: 110 metres
Located just 20 minutes from downtown Hamilton, Dundas Peak is located within Spencer Gorge Conservation Area. It is a beloved local lookout top the Niagara Escarpment and offers a fantastic little day hike ending with some great views. Take the trail along to the beautiful Webster Falls, then Tews Falls. The 3.9km trail ends at the gorgeous Dundas Peak lookout. Although the trail and lookout are beautiful in all seasons, it shines in autumn. The trail is also a pretty good workout if you put a little oomph into it.
Dundas Peak, ablaze with colour in fall
Ishpatina Ridge Tower Summit
Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
Ishpatina Ridge is located in Lady Evelyn Smoothwater Park and is one of the shorter trails in this list. We like Ishpatina Ridge because it's mostly accessible for beginner hikers and even offers a great trail run option. The trail itself is only 4km (about 2 hours of your day) but comes with beautiful lakeside scenery and relatively smooth terrain. The trail is well marked but isn't landscaped so you can get that needed sense of getting lost without the need to leave a trail of breadcrumbs. If you have trouble walking, watch out of the second part of the trail that gets a bit steeper but isn't anything most people can't handle regardless of skill level. Check out the park's guide before you go.
MIzzy Lake Trail
Hiking TIme: 6-8 hours
Sometimes a longer trail with some rough spots is what you're looking for. When that mood strikes, the Mizzy Lake Trail may be what your soul needs. This trail stretches for 11km and includes many wildlife, small ponds, lakes, and plenty of tree-lined lanes. We don't recommend Mizzy Lake for people that have trouble walking as the trail does come with lots of rough spots, including tangles, roots, and rocks. This is one trail that will slow you down and demand you take a look around. You can find details on how to get to Mizzy Lake on this site.
One of many beaver ponds along Mizzy Lake Trail, Algonquin Park
White Bear Forest Trail
Hiking Time: 8+ hours
The White Bear Forest Trail can be accessed from the road and boasts trees as far as the eye can see. This is an old-growth forest, which means that the trees in White Bear are in all aspects of life, from newer growth to fallen trees and dead trees that remain standing. Old-growth forests are ideal for a real escape and offer plenty of picturesque views (bring a camera). The shade on this trail is also unique as the sun filters through the trees differently depending on the tree height and life stage. The trail itself is well maintained and easy to hike, making it suitable for all levels. Learn more about the trail and its significance here.
Bruce Trail, Bruce Peninsula National Park
Hiking Time: 8+ hours
The Bruce Trail in Bruce Peninsula National Park is one of the most scenic trails you'll find in the province. The trail stretches 21km, so make sure to arrive early and plan to spend the day hiking. Caves, cliffs, white beaches, and water that looks like a scene from the Caribbean await hikers that venture to Bruce Trail. This park is popular during the summer months thanks to the fantastic beaches and water access. Still, it's less populated and quieter during the fall when the weather is a bit cooler (making it an ideal place for a September or October trek). The trail starts easy and includes some wooden walkways but gets a bit more rugged as time goes by. You'll want to check out the park website for tickets and other details before you go.
Lake Superior Provincial Park trails
Hiking Time: 2-10 hours
The Lake Superior Provincial Park is one spot that many Ontarians miss out on when it comes to hiking. The park is known mostly for being a great picnic spot, but it also boasts many welcoming trails to all skill levels. Cliffs, beaches, waterways, forests, and fantastic Fall views are some of the reasons why the trails in this park are sought after by hikers in the know. We didn't pinpoint a specific trail in this park because there are so many to choose from (especially if you want to canoe part of the trail you pick). We recommend visiting the park's website to find out more about the various trail options and to purchase park passes in advance. The Lake Superior Provincial Park is open until Oct. 25.
Bluff Trail, Awenda Provincial Park
Hiking Time: 2-4 hours
Bluff Trail is not a difficult trail full of treacherous terrain, but it's a great way to spend a few hours of your day, and it's family-friendly. Bluff Trail is an ideal way to experience some of Ontario's famed old-growth forest. This trail is perfect on a spring day, but it also offers Fall visitors some excellent scenery. The trail is well-maintained and comes with plenty of walkable paths. There are other trails in the park that are more challenging, but this is one of our favorite simple trails. To find out more about Bluff Trail and Awenda Provincial Park, check out the park's website.
Sunset in Awenda Provincial Park
Pretty River and Bruce Trail loops, Pretty River Provincial Park
Time: 1.5 hours
This trail offers the best of this stunning location that winds through a beautiful forest alongside a scenic little waterway. This is not an immensely popular park since there is no parking lot or facilities. Park-goers must park alongside the road and access hikes at various points along the way. There is a wide variety of trails from which to choose, but watch out for mountain bikers who also enjoy the area. The park includes portions of the Bruce Trail and the Niagara Escarpment system and is included in the Niagara Biosphere Reserve.
Silhouette Trail, Killarney Provincial Park
Hiking Time: 1-3 days
The Silhouette Trail isn't exactly a day-trip, but it is worth adding to this guide because it provides a real break from everyday life and comes with fantastic scenery. If you have a long weekend or want to take a day or two off work, head to Killarney Provincial Park to explore the Silhouette Trail. This trail comes with views of the White Quartzite Hills that are part of the La Cloche mountain range. You'll also pass by various lakes and other bits of water while hiking a challenging trail that is anything but boring. The park does offer camping options (book ahead online), and there are facilities available. Book before you go here.
Scenic view, Killarney Provincial Park
Silver Peak, Killarney Provincial Park
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Silver Peak in Killarney Park is an expedition camping trip that will require a canoe. If you're up for a challenge, canoe to the trailhead via Bell Lake of Johnny Lake. You can leave your canoe at the trail entrance and follow the signs for Silver Peak. The trail is relatively flat but does creep up in elevation towards the middle of the course, and you will be climbing for almost an hour to reach the peak. At some points, the trail can get slippery and does require proper footwear (don't attempt this one with running shoes). Silver Peak was once the future spot of a ski mountain, but the plans fell through, resulting in a rugged trail for hikers to explore. Leave a full day to check out this trail, and be sure to read more about the terrain before you go.
Riverside to Wilderness trails, Pinery Provincial Park
Hiking time: 2 hours
This unique and pretty trail winds through oak savannah, mixed pine and oak forest, sand dunes, wetlands and along a river. It's got a bit of everything. This birding mecca also provides many wildlife viewing opportunities of the avian variety in addition to numerous varieties of mushrooms, reptiles and more.
Wilderness Trail, Pinery Provincial Park
Peat Mountain, Lake Superior National Park
Hiking Time: 3-5 hours
Rabbit Blanket Lake Campground is the access point to Peat Mountain in Lake Superior National Park. This trail will take you through a mixed forest and somewhat rocky terrain to the top of the mountain. Once you get to the top, you'll want to stop and look around (pack a picnic lunch). If the weather is clear, you can see Michipicoten Island nestled in Lake Superior. If you want to make it an overnight trip, there's a campground at Foam Lake (book ahead online). Details and booking information can be found here.
La Vigilance Trail, Renee Brunelle Provincial Park
Hiking Time: 1-2 hours
If you're a history fanatic, you'll want to take a day trip to La Vigilance in Renee Brunelle Provincial Park. The hike itself is a relatively easy 5km hike that offers a decently maintained trail easy enough for all skill levels. Still, the real gem of La Vigilance is the historical significance of Airplane Island that can be seen from the top of the trail. Airplane Island was established during the 1920s as a base for airplanes used to extinguish forest fires. The park's main website comes with additional information about the island and the trail.
Stubb's Falls Trail, Arrowhead Park
Hiking Time: 1-2 hours
Waterfalls are underestimated but are worth a quick 2km hike to see. The Stubb's Falls Trail is a great day-trip destination and opportunity to sit by the falls and picnic, read, reflect, or hang out with a friend. This is also an ideal trail to choose if you want to bring kids on a quick trip immersed in nature or take a break for a few hours. During the fall months, Stubb's Falls provides an ideal opportunity to view tree colours. Check out more about the trail and how to get there here.
Fire Tower Trail, Restoule Provincial Park
Hiking Time: 3-8 hours
Streams, ponds, and lots of fall forest colours are what you'll find when exploring the 7km Fire Tower Trail in Restoule Provincial Park. The trail ends above Stormy Lake, where you'll have the opportunity to gaze at clear waters and take a look at the still existing fire tower that's perched on top of the mountain. This trail is marked moderate because there are various steeper parts of the trail and some slippery spots. You'll want to pack light and wear hiking shoes for this one. Find more information on the park's website.
Pines Hiking Trail, Quetico Park
Hiking Time: 5-8 hours
Standing at the base of an ancient pine tree can help you gauge your place in the universe, and Pine Hiking Trail doesn't disappoint when it comes to towering trees. This trail stretches for 10km and comes with some rougher knotty parts, but it is worth taking all day to explore. You can also head to Pickerel Lake for a beach day or pack a picnic and spend it under the pines. You will have to reserve a pass online before you go, so make sure to plan accordingly.
McCarston's Lake, Carriage and Spillway Trail, Mono Cliffs Provincial Park
Hiking time: 1.5 hours
This trail is a lovely but busy loop through a beautiful slice of forest and cliff that sits on the Niagara Escarpment about an hour north and slightly west of Toronto near the town of Mono Centre. There are lovely woods here, water features, and all manner of rocky formations that are unique. It is just far enough away from the city that it isn’t always overrun by city dwellers, but it does get busy on the weekends so choose trails that lead furthest away from the central area to avoid those just out for a quick stroll with the dog. There is a great inn with a delish restaurant and patio for a refreshing drink or snack after the hike.
Algonquin Park's Centennial Ridges Trail
Centennial Ridges Trail, Algonquin Park
Hiking time: 4.5 hours
Centennial Ridges Trail is a well-known and beloved loop trail around a lake and is rated as difficult. There are some very rewarding views thanks to two high ridges, some of which are considered the best in this incredible park, and that's saying something. It can be muddy. The views in awesome are epic.
Goblin Lake Trail, Blue Lake Park
Hiking Time: 5-8 hours
The Goblin Lake Trail follows the edge of Goblin lake and is both scenic and rugged. The lake's borders can be muddy and may include some rockier points making proper footwear necessary. This trail is marked clearly for a reason: it's easy to get lost while exploring the Goblin Lake Trail. But, if you follow the signs and stay on the main path, this is a great hike that's ideal for a day-trip. The trail is marked moderate by the parks system and is best suited for hikers with some experience (not a great trail for smaller kids). Check out the Blue Lake Park website for additional tips.
Silver Queen Mine Trail, Murphy's Point
Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
Ontario has many historic trails that aren't incredibly difficult when it comes to skill level but offer plenty to explore. The Silver Queen Mine Trail is a short 2km trail that's well maintained and isn't a challenge to hike. This trail's beauty is the mica mine that was fully operational during the 1900s and remains partially open today. The mine can be explored by hikers (popular with kids), and the trail also has a restored miner's bunker house along the way. If you want to leave the city for a day and bring the whole family, the Silver Queen Mine Trail is a great way option.
Silver Queen Mine, Murphy's Point Provincial Park
Bass Lake Trail, Bass Lake Park
Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
You'll need to find something to do with the family on those more extended fall weekends, and the Bass Lake Trail might be what you're looking for. This trail is smooth, easy to trek, and comes with something entirely unexpected by most: a working farm that has been in its current location for more than 100 years. The Rowe Farm Homestead is an excellent reminder of what life once was for most Ontarians and what it remains for the farm owners. Kids will love this hike and exploring the farm's land and animals.
Walk of the Little Bonnechere River, Bonnechere Park
Distance: Various Lengths
Hiking Time: varies
Bonnechere Park is one of the lesser-known Ontario parks, but it's worth exploring if you have some time to kill and want to try something a bit different. The Walk of the Little Bonnechere River is a compilation of 10 trails of varying lengths. Some of the trails are more difficult, but none are incredibly rugged. The trails provide a great view of the Bonnechere River and are an ideal way to spend the day water-side. The trails at Bonnechere Park are well-marked and maintained, and you can pick up a map at the park's entrance. Some more details about the path can be found on the park's website.
White River Suspension Bridge in Pukaskwa Park
White River Suspension Bridge Trail, Pukaskwa Park
Hiking Time: 5-8 hours
The White River Suspension Bridge Trail is not for the faint of heart, but it is a trail that you have to try if you have some hiking experience. As the name suggests, this trail is a large part suspension bridge that stretches across 23 meters above Chigamiwinigum Falls. The bridge sways and swings making it fun to trek across but also heart-pounding. Before reaching the bridge, you'll cross wetlands, swimmable waters, and plenty of picnic spots. Spend the day and enjoy all that Pukaskwa Park has to offer -- campsites are also available through the park's main website.
Nipigon River Recreation Trail
Hiking Time: 3-6 hours
The Nipigon River Trail is a well-maintained and landscaped trail that is slightly challenging to beginner hikers. The trail comes with some steep steps, various wooded lookouts, and the Nipigon River (part of Lake Superior). There are some shorter entrances to the trail starting at the Red Rock trailhead. A clear map and details about the park are worth looking at before you head to the Nipigon River Trail.