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Nature In Ontario
Just a short distance from our towns and cities you can immerse yourself in breathtaking outstanding Canadian scenery and be at one with nature.
In Ontario you're never far from amazing scenery. From the emerald and amber rolling hills, dense boreal forests and endless paths and hiking trails, getting active outdoors is certainly not a chore in Ontario. And with more than 330 parks throughout the province covering a colossal nine million hectares, nature is always nearby.
Nature lovers will be in their element with the wide variety of parks on offer throughout the province. From family friendly pleasure parks with first-rate amenities and guided tours to the challenging terrain of wilderness parks with their uninterrupted stretches of ancient forests dotted here and there with rocky outcroppings and tranquil lakes.
The parks in Ontario are divided into six categories: Natural Environment, Nature Reserve, Historical, Waterway, Recreation and Wilderness. It's impossible to list all 300, but below are some of the most easily accessible and famous parks of Ontario.
Algonquin Provincial Park - Natural Environment
Great for: Wildlife watching and an extensive network of paddling routes
Algonquin Provincial Park is the perfect example of natural environment. Algonquin is the oldest and most famous park in Ontario. It's a much-visited playground for city living Ontarians and a popular twin center choice for visitors looking to mix urban with nature.
Its popularity is largely due to the captivating scenery - rocky outcroppings, glacial valleys, and an abundance of deep, crystal clear lakes. A great variety of wildlife can be found in the park including moose, bears, wolf and a wide array of fish and birds. Algonquin is probably most famous for its extensive network of paddling routes, making the park a canoeing and kayaking paradise - for beginners and experienced paddlers looking for a backcountry experience. It's also well suit for hiking and biking. Or you can simply enjoy the fresh air and beautiful scenery.
Algonquin is an easy 3 hours drive from Toronto (West Gate Entrance) and 3 hours drive from Ottawa (East Gate Entrance). The park is perfectly situated to combine Ontario's Capitals of Cool with the great Canadian outdoors. Accommodation in and around the park comes in all shapes and sizes from camp sites (drive to and backcountry) to small lodges to larger resorts in nearby Huntsville.
Haliburton Forest & Wild Life Reserve - Nature Reserve
Great for: Wildlife watching, wolf encounters and dog sledding in winter months
Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve just two and a half hours from Toronto and Ottawa is ideal for keen walkers with over 60,000 acres of hardwood forests, pristine lakes and extensive wetlands to explore. These magical forests support a wide variety of wildlife and an impressive range of trees including Sugar Maple, American Beech and Eastern Hemlock.
In the warmer months visitors can observe wild grey wolfs at the Haliburton Forest Wolf Centre or touch the tree tops in the half day "Walk in the Clouds" canopy tour. Mountain bikers can choose from rolling access roads, wide forest trails, or plan a route that takes them off to some of the toughest terrain in Ontario. Do a little star gazing from the Observatory - the remote location is perfect for night sky viewing. In the winter months, Haliburton is covered in a perfect blanket of snow, ideal for a variety of winter sports including cross-country skiing, dog-sledding, snowshoeing and snowmobiling (rentals available!).
Because of its close proximity to Toronto and Ottawa, Halliburton is ideally situated for an action packed day out for those based on the cities. However, with affordable, rustic log cabins and campsites on site, it is also the perfect place for a weekend retreat.
Petroglyphs Provincial Park - Historical Park
Great for: Discovering ancient rock art and extensive hiking trails
Petroglyphs Provincial Park is famous for its enigmatic rock carvings. Located deep within a forested corner northeast of Peterborough, the park contains the largest known concentration of Aboriginal rock carvings in Canada.
Carved into the white marble rock face hundreds of years ago, the 900 petroglyphs depict turtles, snakes, birds, humans and other images. Hiking trails meander through surrounding forests, wetlands and rocky ridges. Explore the Learning Place Interpretive Centre for insight into the deeper meaning of these mysterious rock carvings.
Just 2.5 hours East of Toronto and 3.5 hours Southwest of Ottawa makes Petroglyphs Provincial Park another easily accessible opportunity to connect with nature.
Getting there: 2.5 east of Toronto 3.5 hours south of Ottawa
The French River Provincial Park - Waterway Park
Great for: Fishing, kayaking, canoeing and breathtaking scenery
The French River Provincial Park flows 110 kilometres from Lake Nipissing to Georgian Bay, and is one of the best places to canoe, kayak or fish in the province.
The waterway also has historic roots; for thousands of years Aboriginal people used the river as a place to meet and trade their wares. More recently, it was used by voyageurs to transport goods between tribes and European settlements. The well-travelled waterway is now frequented by holiday makers who enjoy the variety of water-based, recreational activities and outstanding scenery in the park.
The scenery in the park is stunning - resplendent with rocky shores, pine growth forests, and quaint lodges and cottages. For the complete Canadian experience, stay in one of these cosy abodes or for the more intrepid, there are 230 undeveloped back-country campsites available in the park and along the river.
Wasaga Beach Provincial Park - Recreational Park
Great for: Family Fun - boating, swimming and bathing in crystal clear waters
Wasaga Beach Provincial Park is great for family fun. The recreation park boasts the longest freshwater beach in the world - perfect for a cooling off in the summer sun - don't forget your beach towel!
The park is nestled in the southernmost point of Nottawasaga Bay. The 14 km beach offers year round enjoyment with swimming, boating, fishing, hiking and biking in the summer months and snowmobiling and cross-country skiing throughout the winter. Wasaga has the largest number of parabolic sand dunes in Ontario, which make for a challenging yet rewarding climb, and once at the top - an unforgettable view. In the summer, the park is a buzzing hive of energy, with families basking in the sun and bathing in the clean, clear waters.
Wasaga Beach is located just 90 minutes north of Toronto, right in the heart of the town of Wasaga.
Killarney Provincial Park - Wilderness Park
Great for: Experiencing Canadian Wilderness at its best
Killarney Provincial Park is one of Ontario's most majestic landscapes. Covering 48,500 hectares, its wild beauty has inspired artists for many generations. Most notably, the Group of Seven, a cluster of landscape painters, drew their inspiration from the dramatic scenery in the park.
From the campground at George Lake, canoeists and hikers can travel into a wilderness of birch, maple, oak and pine forests all shooting sky high amongst the ancient white quartzite rock s of the La Cloche Mountains.
Canoeing and Kayaking is superb in Killarney, as is the sailing. In the winter months, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are the order of the day. Animals roam wild in this park, so expect to catch a glimpse of moose, deer, foxes, or otters and if you are really lucky, you may see the odd bear. Guided tours are available as is kit rental.
Killarney is a five hour drive from Toronto, but expect to feel a million miles away from anywhere in this truly magical park.