An Adventure Traveler's Guide to Ontario, Canada

Rafting on the Ottawa River
Rafting on the Ottawa River | © woodleywonderworks / Flickr

Ontario is an adventurer’s paradise. It’s home to Toronto—Canada’s largest city and the fourth biggest in North America—as well as 250,000 lakes and 72 provincial parks. Here’s a guide to the best adventure activities in Ontario, which features both winter and summertime outdoor fun.

Visit Blue Mountain

Blue Mountain Resort is the largest mountain village resort in Ontario, and prides itself on being a four-season destination. In winter it has 42 runs for skiers and snowboarders, and 30 trails are lit for night skiing. There’s also snowshoeing, tubing, winter caving, and snowmobiling for adventure seekers.
In summer, freefall for 21 feet (6.5 meters) onto the Apex Bagjump, to get that adrenalin pumping. Just 10 minutes from the resort is Blue Mountain Beach, which is located on the shores of scenic Georgian Bay. Activities here include stand-up paddleboarding and canoe rentals. There’s also mountain biking and hiking adventures to be enjoyed during summer on Blue Mountain.

Hike along the Bruce Trail

The Bruce Trail is the longest and oldest marked hiking trail in Canada. It stretches more than 522 miles (840 kilometers), and boasts another 273 miles (440 kilometers) of side trails as well. An average of 400,000 people visit the trail each year, to hike, photograph the sights, and snowshoe in winter. Bruce Trail is located along the Niagara Escarpment, which is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.

Along the Bruce Trail

Adventure Time on the Rideau Canal

Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal is a must for adventure travelers, no matter the season. Canoe the canal in the summer, and ice skate across it in winter. Once it freezes over, Rideau Canal actually makes the world’s largest skating rink. It starts in downtown Ottawa and stretches for 5 miles (7.8 kilometers) to Dows Lake.

Take to the Treetops

Treetop Trekking has five zipline and aerial game parks in Ontario, as well as five in neighboring Quebec. The Huntsville location is home to Tarzan, which is a giant freefall swing. Meanwhile, the park in Barrie was the first of its kind in Ontario, and is the company’s biggest park. It’s also the only one that offers an adrenalin jump experience. They all offer night trek options, too.

Trekking the treetops in Barrie

Dog Sledding in Muskoka

Thanks to its freezing winter conditions, Ontario is home to those who enjoy dog sledding. North Ridge Ranch is located in Huntsville, in Ontario’s Muskoka region. The team here has been operating the business for more than 15 years. They have more than 50 athletic Alaskan huskies who are ready for your dog-sledding adventure. North Ridge Ranch provides a half-day tour, which takes guests through 10 miles (20 kilometers) of snowy Muskoka wilderness.

Rafting on the Ottawa River

For an adrenalin-pumping adventure in summer, check out whitewater rafting along the Ottawa River with OWL Rafting. From mid-May to September, the championship-winning team at OWL Rafting takes guests down the 7.5 mile (12 kilometer) Rocher Fendu rapids, just 90 minutes outside of Ottawa. They offer both adventure rafting and family rafting (a more conservative route) adventures, plus two day trips for the extra adventurous.

Whitewater rafting on the Ottawa River

Bouldering at Niagara Glen

Just a few miles from Niagara Falls, Niagara Glen is the largest developed bouldering area in southern Ontario. For climbers, there are climbs here that range from easy to very hard, which have locals visiting time and time again. Topout says that there’s a mixture of “pocketed overhangs, thin crimpy faces and slopey sandstone.” But stepping off the beaten path will lead to less-polished rock surfaces. Bouldering permits are required, which can be purchased at the Niagara Glen Nature Centre. The best time to visit is usually spring or fall.

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