9 Best Places for Outdoor Adventure in Ontario

Plan a trip to one of these locations and give your friends serious FOMO.

If you’re looking for the best places to visit in Ontario to do some of the coolest outdoor adventures, this curated series of bucket-list, can’t miss experiences will make your friends wish they’d come along. Circumnavigate the biggest freshwater island by bike, do the voyageur triathlon, revel in an outdoor playground, fly down the slopes of one of the best kept secret mountains in Ontario, rock or ice climb an escarpment, horseback ride to a waterfall, sleep with wolves, scuba or snorkel to 20 shipwrecks, and chase the Northern Lights and starry nights.

Manitoulin Island: Bike Spirit Island

Manitoulin Island is famous for being the largest island surrounded by freshwater in the world. Zoom in closer, and you’ll see 108 freshwater lakes on the island, and some of those lakes have islands in them. Zoom in closer and you’ll probably see yourself biking around the island on relatively quiet highways and even less-travelled country roads on a multiday tour.

Considering all the lakes on the island, you’d think we’d recommend paddling, but biking the island is one of the best adventures in Ontario. Destinations to pedal to include beautiful waterfalls, breathtaking hikes, talented chocolatiers, lighthouses, a craft brewery, several First Nations and Indigenous tourism opportunities. There are also a couple of trail rides if you prefer rougher terrain.

canoeing with a dog near a scenic falls on the Mattawa River
Paddle the incredibly beautiful and historic Mattawa River as part of the Red Toque Multi-Adventure. Photo: Grait Outdoors // @grait.outdoors

North Bay: Red Toque Multi-Adventure

You may have heard of the Marvel multiverse, but what about the Red Toque Multi-Adventure? Nestled in the traditional lands and sacred waterways of the Anishinaabe and Métis peoples, it doesn’t get much more quintessentially Canadian than hiking, paddling and cycling through the rugged Canadian Shield. Part of the Voyageur Cycling Route, you can tackle this iconic route as a loop: paddling, portaging, camping, and hiking one way and cycling back.

Swifts and rapids abound for those with the experience and skill, or bypass them with a portage. Ride the 86-kilometre Red Toque Tour Cycling Experience, paddle up to 65 kilometres on the historically significant Mattawa River, hike to the Eau Claire Gorge and La Vase Portages Hiking Trails, and portage at the six-metre-high Paresseux Falls.

girl turns around and smiles while paddling in the bow of a canoe
Go for a paddle at beautiful Kivi Park. Photo: Jess McShane Photography

Sudbury: Urban Adventure Park

How can so many adventuring possibilities be so close to the city? Kivi Park has 480 acres of outdoor fun waiting to happen at the southern edge of Sudbury. Over 80 kilometres of trails are available year-round for snowshoeing, classic and skate cross-country skiing, fat-biking, mountain biking, hiking and dog walking. Crowley Lake is the Park’s destination for swimming, canoeing, kayaking, standup paddleboarding and fishing. When the temperatures drop, include Nina’s Way, a 1.3-kilometre skating path winding through the birch trees, in your itinerary.

There’s also a soccer field, multiple playgrounds, basketball courts, a disc golf course, a picnic area and a café.

  • Plan your adventure by visiting the Kivi Park website
  • Visit locally owned and operated Adventure365 for gear and servicing, or rent directly from them at Kivi Park for fat bikes, skis and snowshoes
winter ski slopes at Searchmont Resort
Find snow-filled fun in Algoma. Photo: Searchmont Resort

Searchmont Resort, Algoma: Secret Mountain Slopes

Boasting one of the highest verticals for downhill skiing and snowboarding in Ontario (703 feet or 214 metres), with some of the shortest lines at the lifts, Searchmont Resort is a hidden gem for adventure in Ontario. If there’s one thing you can count on in the north, it’s snow. The annual average snowfall is 336 centimetres or 132 inches of real snow.

Searchmont Resort has 26 runs, with tons of variety, and a nice distribution of difficulty. Over 10 of the slopes see you skiing over a kilometre to the bottom. Table tops, grind rails, ramps and barrels await those looking to catch air. Slopeside villas are now ready for booking, and many allow you the ultimate convenience of skiing right onto the slopes from your door.

In the offseason at Searchmont, look to the Goulais River for your next paddling adventure. For cycling, the highway from Sault Ste. Marie to Searchmont is one of the most beautiful for taking in the fall colours.

view from the lookout at Sleeping Giant
Climb to the Top of the Giant. Photo: Ontario Parks

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park: Climb to New Heights

There are more hikes and cycling adventures than you can shake a stick at in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park… and there are a lot of sticks, should you want to try. Ice climbing and rock climbing are also excellent ways to reach some of the finest views in the area. There are over 100 kilometres of hiking trails and more than 50 kilometres of skiing trails. There’s backcountry and car camping.

Want to clamber on the giant himself? The Head Trail is 16.2 kilometres round-trip, including a final push of 800 metres to get to stand on the giant’s head. The Chest of the Giant is a 17-kilometre round-trip hike. The Top of the Giant is a 21.8-kilometre round-trip hike. To conserve your energy, bike the initial part of the trails.

Plan a trip and out why the Sleeping Giant has been named one of Canada’s seven wonders.

Shabaqua: Gallop to Whispered Dreams Ranch

Looking to release your inner cowboy or cowgirl? Want to hike one of the province’s newest trails? Thought about learning to fly fish? Mosey over to Shabaqua, an hour west of Thunder Bay. For year-round horsing around, gallop over to Whispered Dreams Ranch for day trips and overnight adventures on horseback. Explore the beauty of Shabaqua’s wilderness, as the group chooses to break trail or stay on established logging roads. You’ll have opportunities to see wildlife, waterfalls and other staggering scenery.

winter exterior of the building at Cedar Meadows
Cedar Meadows offers spa services, on-site dining, wildlife tours and—soon—the chance to sleep among a wolf pack. Photo: Cedar Meadows

Cedar Meadows Resort & Spa, Timmins: Sleep with Wolves

Want to sleep with wolves? Stay in one of five new cabins at Cedar Meadows Resort & Spa located in a 10-acre enclosure where 11 wolves rehomed from zoos will be able to walk right up to your cabin. Your bedroom of solid glass immerses you with wolves, the wilderness, the stars and, if you're lucky, the northern lights.

Whoever said adventure can’t be luxurious hasn’t been to Timmins’ urban adjacent oasis situated on 175 acres in the natural serenity of Northern Ontario. Embark on a wildlife tour interacting with elk and deer among other animals, then return to the resort for Nordic spa treatments. Walk the trails of the Mattagami Region Conservation Areas, including the seven-kilometre Bridge-to-Bridge Trail, then nosh at the The Voyageur Dining Room. Canoe or kayak on the Mattagami River with rentals from Cedar Meadows, or walk a few steps from the resort to drop a fishing line in from the bank of the river.

If, for you, adventure is synonymous with something more rugged, Kettle Lakes Provincial Park’s campsites are 35 minutes away, surrounded by 22 deep spring-fed lakes for swimming, paddling and fishing, and 14 kilometres of bike trails.

Fathom Five National Marine Park, Tobermory: Snorkel or Scuba

Did you know Tobermory is considered the Scuba Diving Capital of Canada? Even if you don’t dive, while snorkelling in the Fathom Five National Marine Park, and marveling at the colour of the water, you may wonder if you’re in the Caribbean (except for the water temperatures). The Park is home to Flowerpot Island, where the iconic flowerpot rock formations are found. Most visitors access Flowerpot Island through boat tours, but you can kayak or canoe to the island too, or camp there with a reservation.

The main attraction for most adventure seekers is over 20 historic shipwrecks; some are as shallow as 10 feet deep and as old as hailing from 1885 (Sweepstakes wreck). Those looking to go deeper can explore underwater cliffs, caves and deep wrecks by scuba diving.

Pukaskwa National Park: Chase the Northern Lights

For a starry adventure, head north to Pukaskwa National Park. The Boardwalk Beach Trail, a barrier-free boardwalk from the campground to Horseshoe Beach, ends at a viewing platform which is the perfect place to watch the sunset or gaze at the stars. Experts are predicting more Northern Lights activity and more intense events as there will be a solar maximum in 2025. Witnessing the Perseid meteor shower around the second week of August is also a great way to enjoy the outdoors.

There are 100 kilometres of trails to enjoy and the longest undeveloped coastline in the entire Great Lakes for experienced paddlers during the May 15 to Oct 15 season. In the offseason, there are close to 10 kilometres of trails in the frontcountry.

About Nadine Robinson

Dr. Nadine Robinson is an international award-winning freelance writer, non-fiction author, keynote speaker, and an op-ed columnist for Post Media. Her work has appeared in business journals, magazines, tourism destination guides and web portals. Originally from Ottawa, Nadine believes money should be spent on things that can't be taken away from you (travel, education and life experiences). She has travelled to 68 countries, holds a Doctorate in Business Administration, and is a member of the Canadian Freelance Guild and the Travel Media Association of Canada. Now based in Northern Ontario, follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, @theinkran, or email her at the.ink.writer@gmail.com

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