7 Best Trails in Ontario for Hiking with Your Dog

Getting outside is not only a great way to experience the province’s beautiful landscapes, it also offers an amazing bonding experience between you and your furry friend.

The only thing better than hiking some of Ontario’s most beautiful trails is hiking some of Ontario’s most beautiful trails with your dog. Going for a hike is one of the best things we can do to make our dogs happy—it’s the least we can do given all the happiness they bring us. Whether you’re looking for a short and easy hike in the woods for your young or old pup, or a long, rugged trail for your adventure-loving canine companion, this list of the best dog-friendly hikes in Ontario has you covered.

Benefits of Hiking with Your Dog

For dogs, there’s no greater feeling than having a sense of purpose, something going for a hike accomplishes without question. Hiking with your dog provides them with positive stimulation, helping maintain healthy mental and physical capabilities. New scenery, wildlife, smells and exercise are all contributing factors to your dog’s well-being.

Bringing your dog along on a hike offers a great opportunity for real-world training, builds trust and allows the two of you to form a powerful bond. Plus, if you’re trying to spend more time outdoors yourself, your pet can incentivize you to explore more than you would on your own.

What Makes for a Dog-friendly Hike?

When choosing which hike to embark on with your nature-loving dog, it’s important to take into account some of the following factors:

  • Choose hikes with a difficulty level suited to your dog’s level of fitness and ability. Pay attention to both distance and elevation changes, as well as footing.
  • Be wary of overly rocky or jagged trail sections that might damage your pet’s feet.
  • Make sure to bring extra food, water and tick removal tools for your pet.
  • Be aware of your dog’s body type as some smaller dogs have difficulty breathing on long hikes (especially on hot days), and some larger dogs are prone to joint pain when climbing and descending.
  • Make sure your dog is trained to listen to important cues.

Best Dog-friendly Hikes in Ontario

a dog on a boardwalk in fall at Quetico
Fall is a lovely time to visit Quetico. Source: Rebecca Pillipow // @pillipow

Pickerel Point Trail, Quetico Provincial Park

Quetico Provincial Park is located just west of Thunder Bay and encompasses a vast area of rivers, lakes and forest. The Park is known for its incredible canoe tripping routes through the rugged Ontario backcountry. Pale cliff faces, towering waterfalls and glass-like waterways are a few of the elements that make this park so stunning.

But canoe tripping isn’t the only way to experience Quetico’s beauty. The Park is also home to 35 kilometres of hiking trails, accessible from the Dawson Lake Campground. One of the best is the Pickerel Point Trail—a 1.6-kilometre off-leash hiking trail leading to a dog-friendly beach for a chance to cool off with your pup.

Pack the car and head to Quetico for a weekend of outdoor adventure with your dog.

  • Camp at the Dawson Trail Campground—pick a site with water access if your dog can’t get enough of swimming.
  • Situated 45 minutes west of the Park, The Wanigan offers great food and local beer as well as outdoor seating so you can bring your dog along.
  • For hiking gear, camping equipment and food for your trip, stop by Walt’s Dry Goods in Atikokan.
  • Stop in at the nearby Kakabeka Depot Express to stock up on pet essentials like dog food, treats and toys.
  • If your dog is in need of medical help during your trip, you can try calling Nor-West Animal Clinic in Atikokan—while they are not an emergency clinic, they may be able to help if they have availability. Otherwise, the nearest emergency vet clinics are in Thunder Bay: Thunder Bay Veterinary Hospital and Crossroads Veterinary Clinic.

Bebamikawe Memorial Trail, Manitoulin Island

Situated in the vast waters of Lake Huron, Manitoulin Island offers unmatched views of the night sky, countless beaches, small-town charm and incredible hiking. The Bebamikawe Memorial Trail provides a unique hiking experience for those who love dogs. Nestled in the Wikwemikong Unceded Territory, the trail has options to hike up to 14 kilometres of Manitoulin’s wilderness and has a unique feature pet-lovers will appreciate.

The trail council has appointed multiple four-legged workers, who roam the trail throughout the day ensuring trail users remain safe from bears and other wildlife, making it one of Ontario’s exceptional dog-friendly hiking trails. The trail dogs greet hikers at the trailhead and often accompany them on the trails, leading the way and disappearing into the bush to chase animals.

Whether or not you have a dog of your own, hiking this trail will ensure you get some quality time with an experienced trail dog. The vibrant fall colours make this an incredible location to visit during the autumn months.

a dog with branch in mouth runs on a beach at Windy Lake
Off-leash fun at the beach at Windy Lake. Source: Ana Carolina P Chaves Hoyer // @kayathepatterdale

Transition Hiking Trail, Windy Lake Provincial Park

Not far from Sudbury, Windy Lake Provincial Park rests on the calm waters of Windy Lake and stretches throughout the surrounding evergreen forests of the Onaping area. Colourful sunsets, pristine sand beaches and hike-in campsites via accessible trails are a few of the benefits of visiting Windy Lake, but there are also amenities that are unique to pet lovers.

Start your day with a hike on the three-kilometre-long Transition Hiking Trail, which follows the rim of a huge crater created by a meteorite two billion years ago. The forested trail provides plenty of shade for your dog on a hot summer day and lots of smells to keep your dog’s nose occupied.

After your hike, you can both cool off at the Park’s dog-friendly beach in the Pet Exercise Area, located along the shores of Windy Lake. While your dog will need to remain on-leash for the hike, at the beach they can get some off-leash freedom.

  • Book a walk-in campsite for added privacy with your furry friend. Or—book Cabin 201, which is a dog-friendly roofed accommodation, providing comfort and warmth.
  • Stop in at The Laughing Buddha in Sudbury for a dining experience offering vegetarian and vegan options, as well as dog-friendly seating.
  • Visit Just For Pets, only 25 minutes away from the Park, for any pet supply needs.
  • The closest emergency veterinary services are located in Sudbury. The vets here rotate being on-call for emergencies. You can call 705-535-2336 to find out where to bring your pet.

Havilland Lookout Trail, Sault Ste. Marie

Sault Ste. Marie borders Michigan and is in close proximity to some of Ontario’s greatest hikes and scenery. The area’s towering, rolling hills and rocky escarpments set next to Lake Superior’s vast waters will allow you to embrace an entirely new side of Ontario. Breathtaking vantage points, clear waters and endless forests make this area a must-visit for you and your pet.

Head to Havilland Shores Beach about 35 kilometres north of Sault Ste. Marie to access the Havilland Lookout trail and the fantastic views of Lake Superior that await. 4.2 kilometres in length, you’ll begin the hike with a steady climb up through the forest, passing waterfalls along the way, before emerging to a stunning view out over Havilland Bay. Visit this trail during the spring to increase your visibility of the water and be sure your dog is up for the challenge before em-barking on this hike.

  • On your way home, stop by the Northern Superior Brewing Company in Sault Ste. Marie for a cold, local beverage and snack. There is a dog-friendly seating area outside.
  • Camp at Blueberry Hill Campground for a family- and dog-friendly experience just outside Sault Ste. Marie.
  • For a more luxurious stay, book a dog-friendly suite at the Water Tower Inn in Sault Ste Marie.
  • Sault Ste. Marie is home to an array of pet supply stores, such as Paw’n Pet Food, a store offering both supplies for your loved one and grooming services.
  • If anything goes awry during your adventures, during regular business hours you can call Animal Hospital Sault Ste. Marie who may be able to fit you in. If after hours, call 705-946-6001 to connect with an on-call emergency veterinarian in Sault Ste. Marie.

Granite Ridge Trail, Killarney Provincial Park

Killarney Provincial Park is home to some of Northern Ontario’s most surprising landscapes as it is filled with granite mountains, turquoise-coloured lakes and dense forest. Aside from the incredible backcountry canoe routes, world-class backpacking trail and exceptional campsites, Killarney also offers awesome day hikes.

Many of Killarney’s day hiking trails are challenging and require scrambling over boulders and up steep inclines. While hikes like The Crack and Silver Peak are doable for some dogs, not all dogs have the fitness or agility to complete them. As well, there is always a risk hiking these trails with your pup given the demanding nature of the routes.

A much more moderate and dog-friendly hike is the Granite Ridge Trail, a two-kilometre hike through fields and forest with a climb up to a ridge overlooking Georgian Bay to the south and the La Cloche Mountains to the north. You’ll still get quintessential Killarney views on this hike—as well as a taste of a quintessential Killarney climb—but because of the trail’s length you can take your time and rest as much as your dog might need.

  • Book a frontcountry campsite at Killarney Provincial Park or, for a cozier stay, book one of their dog-friendly roofed accommodations: Yurt 6 or Cabin 138.
  • If you aren’t in the camping mood, stay in one of the pet-friendly rooms at Killarney Mountain Lodge.
  • Before heading out on the trail, you can stock up on supplies for your dog at Pet Food Warehouse or at Petiopia, both located in Sudbury.
  • The closest emergency veterinary services are located in Sudbury. The vets here rotate being on-call for emergencies. You can call 705-535-2336 to find out where to bring your pet.

Duchesnay Falls Trail, North Bay

Duchesnay Falls is a series of cascading waterfalls on Duchesnay Creek near the coast of Lake Nipissing. Located not far from North Bay’s downtown core, the waterfalls are worth bringing a camera to capture and are tucked amid some excellent hiking trails for you and your dog to explore.

The Duchesnay Falls Trail is three kilometres in length and winds through the treed landscape. The trail also links up with the Education Centre Trails, so keep an eye out for other trail markers if you wish to extend your hike—and make your dog all the happier. If you and your dog love the cold, you can also visit during the winter months to view the frozen falls.

Tamarack, Wintergreen, Kettle & Oh-Say-Yah-Wah-Kaw Trails, Kettle Lakes Provincial Park

The farther north you travel in Ontario, the more the landscape subtly changes. The deciduous trees become more prevalent, the lakes more plentiful and the feeling of complete and total immersion in nature more heightened. Located roughly 30 kilometres east of Timmins, Kettle Lakes Provincial Park showcases all of the above and more.

Tall poplar and pine trees line the collection of northern lakes scattered throughout this quiet Park. Kettle Lakes features four short trails, making this a great hiking location for people with older dogs that can’t go as far as they used to or young puppies that need to be cautious with their activity level.

The Tamarack Trail is two kilometres in length and encircles picturesque Tamarack Lake. Wintergreen Trail is 1.5 kilometres long and provides views of Island Lake. Kettle Trail is two kilometres long and skirts an esker—a ridge of sediment deposited by a retreating glacier ages ago. Lastly, the Oh-Say-Ya-Wah-Kaw Trail is three kilometres and follows the shore of Leece Lake with views of Pexton Lake.

Because all these trails are quite short with moderate elevation, you can string together as many as you like depending on what you and your dog feel up for!

  • Go swimming at the dog beach on Green Lake.
  • Book a frontcountry campsite at The Pines and Island Lake campgrounds.
  • If you want to stay in comfort nearby, book one of the dog-friendly rooms at Cedar Meadows Resort and Spa.
  • If you’re looking to go exploring for the day without your dog, drop them off at the highly rated Pine Meadows Pet Resort and take part in a guided land or water tour with WildExodus to experience a more involved adventure in the Mattagami Watershed.
  • Paws & Claws in Timmins offers a wide variety of pet supplies, including adventure-specific items such as pet water filters.
  • The Timmins Animal Hospital offers daytime services as well as after-hours emergency pet care.

Plan a Bonding Trip for You and Your Best Furry Pal

Create memories you and your dog will remember forever by taking advantage of the wonderful dog-friendly trails, facilities and beaches Ontario has to offer.

About Marshall Veroni

Marshall Veroni is a poet, songwriter and outdoor enthusiast who has spent most of his free time travelling Canada in one way or another. With a background in creative writing, he is dedicated to immersing himself in small-town Ontario to cover outdoor adventures, music, the arts, food and travel. 

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