Over reading week in the first semester, my boyfriend and I went on a trip to Northern Ontario in the area of Spanish, ON. This isn’t the first time I’ve been to Northern Ontario, but I love going every time. I’m always excited to be surrounded by its beauty. I have only ever gone in the summertime, so I was excited to see the amazing fall foliage.
When we were there, we rented a cottage at Waterfalls Lodge and spent the week fishing, hiking, and relaxing by the waterfall. We hiked Mississagi Provincial Park, Chutes Provincial Park, and Killarney Provincial Park. Our family and friends probably thought we were crazy for going North in October, but the weather wasn’t that bad. It was brisk and rainy, but the cool weather was refreshing and we did get some sunny days. Plus, views like this made it all worth it:
Ontario, and Canada in general, offers some of the most beautiful landscapes and hiking trails in the world. For all Ontarians, if exploring is your ideal vacation, consider exploring your province before travelling elsewhere. Wherever you go it will be cheap, relatively short distance, and full of breathtaking landscapes. I highly recommend all three parks that we went to. Here, I will take you through the general features of each park, our experiences with them, and pictures I took at each one.
Mississagi Provincial Park
This park offers 6 hiking trails, as well as fishing, camping, canoeing, etc. The park officially closed to campers at the end of September, but you can just walk around the gates to use its hiking and walking trails in the offseason. The trails range from easy to strenuous, so there is something for everyone. My boyfriend and I hiked the Helenbar Lookout trail. It was 7 km long and took us about 4 hours. The trail itself is pretty much cleared of debris, but the way up is a gradual uphill climb. At the peak, there are two fantastic lookouts with scenery you have to see to believe. My boyfriend and I had never hiked before, but the trail still wasn’t overly difficult. It was definitely a workout, but if you are in decent shape it should be manageable.
Chutes Provincial Park
This was our second hike and undoubtedly the easiest. The park closes to campers on October 9th, but like Mississagi, it is accessible by foot during the offseason. It is a 6 km hike but it is mostly flat ground around the park’s waterfall. This one is more of a walking trail, so it was a perfect rest day to take a relaxing nature walk. Chutes Provincial Park also offers walkers a history lesson. The waterfall was used as a logging chute and you can learn about the park’s history on the informative signs at the head of the trail. The first half of the hike is completely surrounded by woodland, but it is beautiful all the same. On a sunny day the colourful leaves are illuminated and the trail glows red and yellow. The second half of the hike opens up and offers picturesque waterfall views. This trail was well maintained and seeing the water rush over the rocks will take your breath away.
Killarney Provincial Park
Probably one of the most well-known parks in Ontario, Killarney is open year round. The park offers 6 hiking trails ranging from moderate to strenuous. It also offers camping, canoeing, fishing, biking, etc. My boyfriend and I hiked the Granite Ridge Trail and The Crack Trail. Granite Ridge wasn’t too bad; it was probably comparable to Mississagi. It was uphill but had relatively even ground. At the top of the trail you can see Georgian Bay and the La Cloche Mountains. The real appeal of this trail, in my opinion, is the trail itself rather than the lookout. As per its name, it is filled with beautiful granite rocks. Also, if you know where to look on the path, you can find remnants from the time of homesteaders. They have left old cars and artifacts in the woods that are still intact.
The Crack was a much more strenuous hike. The first bit has flat ground, much like a nature walk. Then, it takes a steep turn uphill and back down. The last half of the walk is hands and feet climbing on rocks up the mountain. As you climb in the crack between mountains, you begin wondering if this is really worth it… but as soon as you reach the top and see the view, you realize it definitely is.
More information on these parks is available on the Ontario Parks website. These parks are perfect to enjoy from Spring through Fall. I highly recommend these and encourage people to explore the other breathtaking parks and hiking trails Ontario has to offer. I know I will be this summer!