Beautiful Ontario - My list of 10 destinations for nature lovers.

Algonquin Provincial Park is definitely where you want to be in all 4 seasons.
Algonquin Provincial Park is definitely where you want to be in all 4 seasons. | Source
Exploring Algonquin Provincial Park by dog sleds is possible and an enjoyable experience.
Exploring Algonquin Provincial Park by dog sleds is possible and an enjoyable experience. | Source
K2 and I exploring a section of Bruce Trail in the Caledon Hills.
K2 and I exploring a section of Bruce Trail in the Caledon Hills. | Source

Is Ontario flat, cold, windy, and colourless for tourists?

Well, it does appear so if you talk to an 'accidental' tourist in my province.

This is how a typical conversation goes on between tourists and travellers to Ontario and us (my wife, children and me).

We would inquire, "so how do you like Ontario?"

"It's cool", they would say or something along those lines

"Did you enjoy our outdoors?", we would ask

"Yes, but Florida / California / Rocky Mountains / Norway / Quebec is better", comes the response, depending who has been to which place.

We would defend, "But you can't compare these two regions, each one is different".

"Yes, but still" .....

I thought why not put our case in front of the jury, that is, the readers, to seek the decision from neutral parties.

Polar bears are the largest carnivores of Ontario.
Polar bears are the largest carnivores of Ontario. | Source

Ontario has activities ranging from rock climbing to canyoneering, from hiking for micro-exploration of land to scuba diving for micro-exploration of lake bottoms, from horse riding to dog sledding, from observing wildlife to observing hundreds of years old eastern white cedars, so on and so forth. With a mix baggage of guilt, anger, and pride, K2 and I will take you to the nature lovers' destinations in our province, as we cover them ourselves hiking and trekking in them. Please allow us to make it a photographic tour for a picture is worth a thousand words. Finally, you tell us how do you rate Ontario in terms of its natural heritage.

1. Algonquin Provincial Park for all seasons

If you would admire contrast provided by emerald green forests opening on a sandy beach and then crystal clear waters of a lake, by a dense forest opening on a marsh, by a narrow river that you are pedaling your canoe on against rocky cliffs, the howling of wolves against the deafening silence of a late night, a team of red and gray huskies pulling a sled on a white field of snow, or a moose in the same quiet peaceful lake that you are pedaling your kayak in, then Algonquin Provincial Park is meant for you.

Algonquin Provincial Park is categorized as a national Park by IUCN and is the most visited national / provincial park of Ontario.

However, I would be very careful in hiking through this park with K2 for ever present danger of wolves, bears and moose.

The park offers best lakes for canoeing and kayaking.
The park offers best lakes for canoeing and kayaking. | Source
Highway 60 running through the park shows fall colours
Highway 60 running through the park shows fall colours | Source
Dog sledding can be a great way to explore Algonquin Park in the winters.
Dog sledding can be a great way to explore Algonquin Park in the winters. | Source

Wolves howling at Algonquin Park

2. East coast of Georgian Bay for summer and early fall.

In the company of my family and relatives on various occasions, I have hiked on numerous trails, pedaled canoes and kayaks, piloted a pontoon boat, and taken an awesome cruise around Georgian Bay's 30,000 islands.

This is Ontario's cottage country, primary tourist area, and boasts of 30,000 islands, picturesque sandy and rocky beaches and thousands of inland lakes teeming with trout.

This destination also has Georgian Bay National Park, the Awenda Provincial Park, the Massassauga Provincial Park, the Killbear Provincial Park, and the Six Mile Lake Provincial Park nearby. The last one offers hiking trails, canoeing, boating, fishing, and birding. Black bears, wolves and moose call it home.

Rocky beaches are characteristic of the region. These boulders have been left by receding glaciers thousands of years ago.
Rocky beaches are characteristic of the region. These boulders have been left by receding glaciers thousands of years ago. | Source
Visitors used a kayak to reach this distant island.
Visitors used a kayak to reach this distant island. | Source
You can rent out a cottage like this one on one of the 30,000 islands of Georgian Bay.
You can rent out a cottage like this one on one of the 30,000 islands of Georgian Bay. | Source
Two canoes in the middle of a channel of the Georgian Bay.
Two canoes in the middle of a channel of the Georgian Bay. | Source

3. Point Pelee National Park for spring and fall

If our fellow hubber and bird photographer from Oklahoma - Deb Hirt (Avianovice on Hub Pages) is offered honorary citizenship of the Province of Ontario, Canada, here is where we we will find her in mid to late spring and in early fall. The southern tip of the park is located at a latitude slightly north of San Francisco and is the southern most part of Canada.

Thanks to its location on both the Mississippi and Atlantic flyways, the park sees more than 350 different avian species that draw bird watchers from across North America and beyond each spring and fall.

In addition to the birders, Point Pelee National Park is a Mecca for canoeists and cyclists. The national park is located near Windsor, the southernmost city of Ontario.

Kayaks along the boardwalk.
Kayaks along the boardwalk. | Source
Scarlet Tanager, wet, tired male. Image copyright 2004 Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Scarlet Tanager, wet, tired male. Image copyright 2004 Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART | Source
Chestnut-sided Warbler, adult male (Image copyright 2004 Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART)
Chestnut-sided Warbler, adult male (Image copyright 2004 Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART) | Source
Coyote at the park
Coyote at the park | Source

4. Blue Mountain for summers, fall colours, and especially, winter snows

K2 and I visited Blue Mountain, which is about 90 minutes drive from my home, in late September.

The incessant rains turned our hike up the mountain a pretty arduous and messy task. But when we reached the resort, we found it worth all the effort In summers and early falls, Blue Mountain offers visitors exploration of the caves, a towering zipline, a hike over the beautiful suspension bridge, and scenic views of the valley below and of southern coast and blue waters of Georgian Bay in the distance.

Of course, we were able to enjoy that except for the fact that K2 couldn't be taken to any of these places because of the narrow trails with deep slopes on the side.

Blue Mountain is located in the heart of one of Canada’s most stunning natural landscapes and in a region with a vibrant social and cultural scene. It is a prime winter destination for aficionados of skiing and snowboarding. To top it up, there is the beautiful city of Collingwood, Craigleith Provincial Park, Pretty River Valley Provincial Park, and very popular Wasaga Beach Provincial Park nearby.

Blue Mountain is Ontario's prime skiing destination.
Blue Mountain is Ontario's prime skiing destination. | Source
The early fall view below from Blue Mountain.
The early fall view below from Blue Mountain. | Source
Exploring the caves, fissures, and crevasse in the mountain.
Exploring the caves, fissures, and crevasse in the mountain. | Source
The resort at the base of the mountain is quite activity oriented.
The resort at the base of the mountain is quite activity oriented. | Source

5. Northern coastline and 3 parks on Lake Superior for summer

Between Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay, you can drive on Trans-Canada Highway 17 for about 350 miles of pristine scenic shoreline and forests. On the way, you can explore Lake Superior Provincial Park, Pukaskwa National Park and Sleeping Giant Provincial Park for their natural grandeur.

But this is the land of black bears, wolves, and even cougars. I will not hike alone with K2 here. I need to be exploring this region in the company of other humans for there is survival in numbers.

You get to see awesome views like this one while hiking  (courtesy:Chrystal Clear)
You get to see awesome views like this one while hiking (courtesy:Chrystal Clear) | Source
A family of wolves socializing. You will be lucky if you see one of these magnificent animals.
A family of wolves socializing. You will be lucky if you see one of these magnificent animals. | Source
Pictographs Agawa Rock Lake Superior Provincial Park
Pictographs Agawa Rock Lake Superior Provincial Park | Source
Moose can be a threat while exploring.
Moose can be a threat while exploring. | Source

6. Bruce Peninsula National Park for late spring to early fall

As the lonely trail led us to a rocky outcrop at the Indian Head Cove, we glanced casually down at the rocky Georgian Bay lakeside some 10 meters below and were pleasantly surprised to see hundreds of visitors, many with their dogs, picnicking by the crystal clear waters.

A group of daredevils had climbed a rock which was standing tall over the waters at about 20 meters high and was preparing for cliff jumping. We looked in horror as the lead jumper was about to unknowingly jump on two snorkelers in the water directly below him. He prepared himself for jumping and many visitors yelled in alarm, stopping a calamity in the making. Finally, when the snorkelers cleared the waters, the man jumped and splashed into the water, making some visitors clap in appreciation. Oblivious to this great feat, two sea kayakers pedaled pass by fully focused on their elegant strokes. Far out in the lake, couple of islands of the neighbouring Fathom Five National Marine Park were shimmering on the clear early morning sun.

The park, consisting of Georgian Bay coast; cliffs; cobbled and rocky beaches; many inside lakes; forests; unique flora and fauna; hiking trails; and camping sites, offers a plethora of water and land based activities.

For details on this national park, please refer to the following hub:

Kayaks and the cliff jumpers
Kayaks and the cliff jumpers | Source
Snorkelers down below
Snorkelers down below | Source
Hiking on the Bruce Trail
Hiking on the Bruce Trail | Source
Greens, browns, dark blues, and light blues.
Greens, browns, dark blues, and light blues. | Source

7. Fathom Five National Marine Park for summer

It got very cold on the upper deck in late May and we relocated to the main deck of the glass-bottom ship. The water was so clear that we could see it as if they were lying in the open. We were all looking at the 2 of the 22 shipwrecks that the sparkling clean waters of Fathom Five National Marine Park boasts of. Highlights of this park include most pristine waters of all the great lakes, oldest shipwreck (150 years old), and a 1,860 years old eastern white cedar discovered on the ancient cliffs of Flowerpot Island.

The park is a part of much larger ecosystem with Niagara Escarpment (a World Biosphere Reserve) as a backbone. Like the neighbouring Bruce Peninsula National Park, Fathom Five National Marine Park is located in close proximity to somewhat densely populated southern Ontario. It is, therefore, popular with the tourists who are attracted to its water and land based activities, including scuba diving, boating, and hiking.

See the following hub to learn more about my adventure to this park.

A shipwreck calling scuba divers to explore.
A shipwreck calling scuba divers to explore. | Source
Rocky coast, crystal clear waters, pristine forests and ultimate calmness takes one all over.
Rocky coast, crystal clear waters, pristine forests and ultimate calmness takes one all over. | Source
Unusual rock formation.
Unusual rock formation. | Source
Cormorants and many other aquatic birds call this park home.
Cormorants and many other aquatic birds call this park home. | Source

8. Bruce Trail, Niagara Escarpment and nearby conservation areas for all seasons

We were totally drenched in perspiration during the hike in a sweltering 36C (with a humidex of 41 C) on the Bruce Trail to reach the Borer's Fall. The dense foliage all along was adding to the humidity. Hiking on Bruce Trail had been a pleasure normally, especially for the variation in foliage all across its path. However, on this particular day, it was a total nightmare. A small departure from the Bruce Trail took us to the head of the Borer’s Fall that we were trying to discover. We sat down here for a rest, preferring drinking fluids over some amazing shots of the fall and its surroundings. The heat had taken a heavy toll on our spirits. My wife and I looked at K2, our Kuvasz boy, to see how he was faring in the sweltering heat. Needless to mention, he was panting too.

Our entourage comprising of 5 humans (including three teenagers) and a great white dog was hiking on the Bruce Trail near Hamilton, exploring many waterfalls that the region boasts of.

The Bruce Trail, Canada's oldest and longest footpath (782 kms long), provides the only continuous public access to the magnificent Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. It is one of only sixteen such reserves in all of Canada. There are a number of beautiful waterfalls, conservation areas, and quaint towns and hamlets all along the trail to explore.

Bruce Trail passing through Hamilton offers fall colours like these.
Bruce Trail passing through Hamilton offers fall colours like these. | Source
K2 negotiates a snow covered dormant forest at Bruce Trail near Brampton.
K2 negotiates a snow covered dormant forest at Bruce Trail near Brampton. | Source
There are hundreds of waterfalls like this one all along the Bruce Trail.
There are hundreds of waterfalls like this one all along the Bruce Trail. | Source
The trail becomes rocky as it passes through the Bruce Peninsula National Park.
The trail becomes rocky as it passes through the Bruce Peninsula National Park. | Source

9. Niagara Falls and environs for spring, summer and early fall

We took giant Stairways that led us to 4 km (2.5 miles) of paths that meandered through a pristine pocket of Carolinian Forest and over and around small and big boulders left behind as the Falls eroded through the area thousands of years ago. We descended all the way down to Niagara River where it became white water and was being negotiated by whirlpool jet boats. The spots near the river offered wonderful views of the river upstream, the rapids and the mountain on the US side of the Gorge.

We were exploring the nature trail in Niagara Glen Nature Area. The Niagara Glen is located deep in the Great Gorge that has been a designated Nature Reserve since 1992.

However, Niagara Glen is overshadowed by Niagara Falls, about 2 kms upstream, which is surely the central attraction for all the tourists to Ontario. It is estimated that 6 million tourists visit Ontario's Niagara region every year.

Niagara Falls environs also boast of Ontario's vine producing region.

Please read my following hub in response to a frequently asked question.

A jet boat fighting the current of Niagara River to go up to the Falls (As seen from Niagara Glen).
A jet boat fighting the current of Niagara River to go up to the Falls (As seen from Niagara Glen). | Source
This is how it looks while posing when the ferry fights its way to the base of the Horseshoe Falls.
This is how it looks while posing when the ferry fights its way to the base of the Horseshoe Falls. | Source
Tulips blooming in May. Horseshoe Falls is in far the background.
Tulips blooming in May. Horseshoe Falls is in far the background. | Source
Niagara Glen Nature Area. We were hiking on the trail appearing at lower right. The ridge in the background is NY, USA.
Niagara Glen Nature Area. We were hiking on the trail appearing at lower right. The ridge in the background is NY, USA. | Source

10. Thousand Islands National Park for summer and early fall

Taking a cruise to observe the islands and then pedaling your sit-on-top kayaks to some of the easily accessible islands can be great fun. Turtles, water-fowls, and hunting birds can be seen especially from kayaks. Other ways to explore the National Park are personal or rented boats, houseboats, pontoon boats, etc.

Charleston lake Provincial Park, Bon Echo Provincial Park and Frontenac Provincial Park are located close by offering hiking, fishing, canoeing and birding experience. Frontenac offers snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on 11 km of track-set trails.

Thousand Islands National Park is located close to Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto and the islands can be seen via a cruise from the USA side too. The fall colour cruises are the most popular ones that start from both Canada and the USA.

This grand structure marks just the entryway to Boldt Castle.
This grand structure marks just the entryway to Boldt Castle. | Source
Speed boats exploring the islands.
Speed boats exploring the islands.
Kayaking in a group is a great way to explore islands.
Kayaking in a group is a great way to explore islands. | Source
Early fall
Early fall | Source

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Comments 28 comments

Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 10 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi NomadsCanada,

Thank you very much indeed for showing your support on this hub.

Regards,

Suhail and mt dog


NomadsCanada profile image

NomadsCanada 10 months ago

Great article, Ontario certainly isn't highlighted when it comes to Canadian Travel and Tourism, apart from Niagara and the CN Tower. Coming from the Ottawa Valley and growing up by the river, I know all too well there are plenty of hidden gems in our beautiful province. Well done :)


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 14 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi CrisSp,

Thank you for your kind words and suggestions for a future hub.

Btw, Bruce Trail passes near the Cheltenham Badlands and Mt. Nemo, but you are correct, these areas with characteristic features deserve a separate hub as well.

Thanks again for encouraging words.


CrisSp profile image

CrisSp 14 months ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

This is a great list. I've been to quite a few from your list like the Niagara, Blue Mountain, Bruce Pen, Algonquin Park, etc and would love to explore the rest specially Thousand Islands. Also, if I may add the under-estimated Scarborough Bluffs, which is also described as a "geological wonder" not only in Ontario but in North America. The Cheltenham Badlands just off Brampton is also a good place for trailing. Unfortunately, it was recently fenced off and under study.

This Fall, on my bucket list is to hike and explore Mt Nemo, again not very far from my place. It will be exciting and they said wild life viewing is amazing here. Some ideas to hub about, eh?

This is a wonderful hub with great images. Tourism Ontario should give you credit for promoting its beauty. :)


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 20 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you, Stella. I hope you are able to come to Ontario and enjoy some aspects of western New York and Northern Michigan also. This whole region is beautiful in a different way than many states of the US are.


ladyguitarpicker profile image

ladyguitarpicker 20 months ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

Hi, Suhail I love your hub on Ontario, it is so beautiful. I make sure I go in the summer to visit my family. I use to hike some of those parks. When I go to Canada I use to go through Windsor, and found it to be very beautiful.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 23 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you, Andy, for valuable input and informing about some specific winter spots. I have visited several of the destinations you have mentioned, but not in those specific seasons.

In days to come, I will be hiking with K2 in those areas and will write a blog again.

Thank you for visiting my blog.


Andy S 23 months ago

you have a wonderful way with words and description and would make a truly fine travel writer. I would like to suggest that you visit some other spots close to Toronto. Killarney is by far the most beautiful park in Ontario during any season and was the inspiration for most of the Group of Seven's paintings. The Haliburton Highland Nature Reserve and Wolf Center is my personal favourite spot to enjoy the fall colours. Moon River Falls is one of my favourite free crown land camping spots as well as the land bordering the western edge of Arrowhead PP. Like you I'm a big fan of The Bruce but prefer it in the winter when wolves get curious and venture within sight of your campsite. Also affords you the opportunity to let the dog run free since Cyprus Lake is usually empty of campers in the winter and you alone have the entire park to yourself.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you Suzanne. I love Ontario, which doesn't appear to be on many people's travel map.


Suzanne Day profile image

Suzanne Day 2 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

There's some amazing places to visit here and I like your photos. I can imagine myself kyaking at Point Pelee or checking out the shipwreck at Fathom Five. A beautiful hub, voted useful and up!


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi Craftytothecore,

Come to think of it, I will be there frequently beginning late April, doing bird photography. Thanks for visiting the hub.


CraftytotheCore profile image

CraftytotheCore 2 years ago

I love that boardwalk photo. That looks like a dreamy get-a-way to rent one of those island cabins. Great Hub!


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi Deb,

You are most welcome. When you are here next time, we should get in touch. My nature loving family members will definitely get lot of inspiration from your devotion to birds.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi Natasha,

Actually many renowned Canadian writers and artists, such as Group of Seven, have made cottage country their abode for creative masterpieces.

Ontario is definitely easier to explore as a family or on your own, although I have great respect for many destinations in other parts of Canada and the USA.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

Suhail, these all look like wonderful and exciting places. Thanks for the mention and I hope to visit Canada again to experience the wonderful scenery, animals, and speak to area residents.


Natasha Peters 3 years ago

Wow, what an incredible place! I have always wanted to travel to Canada, and Ontario looks positively beautiful. In fact, renting out a cottage on that bay where I can write, explore, and take photos all day long, sounds positively dreamy.

Beautiful photos, and great hub. You've definitely won me over!


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Well, I think you live in a beautiful part of the world with lot of touristic destinations in Philippines and in the neighbouring countries. Of course, if you are in Canada, I would recommend Ontario, because of our beautiful moderate climate.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi Genna,

And btw, Berkshires in MA is my family summer destination. Hiking there with my dog in fall season will be my dream come true.

One provincial park in Ontario that I would love to visit with my family is less known and even less visited Polar Bear Provincial Park. Of course, K2 will have to be left behind.

Thank you for reading the article and leaving nice comments.


JPSO138 profile image

JPSO138 3 years ago from Cebu, Philippines, International

Wow, they certainly are amazing places to go. Hw I wish I get the chance to see them. The pictures are so wonderful. Up for this hub!


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

Gorgeous photography of gorgeous country. Some of my best memories growing up are of when my family vacationed on Lake Simcoe in Barrie, Ontario almost every summer. This wonderful hub and tour of such magnificent country makes those memories come alive. There is no other place quite like it on earth. Thank you. :-)


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi Linda,

Thank you very much for the comments. Ontario seems to be a safe province for me to hike and trek with K2. He is under training right now for my big hikes in northern Ontario and eventually in BC and Alberta, where possibility of confrontations with grizzlies, wolves, and cougars has shivers running down my spine.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

The photos are beautiful! I would love to visit Ontario and explore the places that you describe. Thank you for this lovely look at some of the province's highlights.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you Bill. If you, the one who lives in a very beautiful state of the USA, is saying this, it must be true. I am honored :-)


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you Eiddwen. That was a very encouraging comment indeed.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

I have never been there but it is absolutely gorgeous. Great pictures and information. I would love to kayak on some of those lakes.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

Wow what can I say except thank you so much for this wonderful hub. Beautiful photos to awesomely balance the text. Loved it and have to vote up, across and share. Here's to wishing you a great weekend.

eddy.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi FlourishAnyway,

Thank you for reading. Considering that half of these destinations are within 200 miles of Toronto, makes it easier to visit.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

There is such beautiful variety in this hub. Well done! I look forward to being able to visit one day, hopefully sooner rather than later.

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