Best Of: Ontario Provincial Parks

From the GTA to Hudson Bay, plenty of outdoor adventure awaits.

With kids out of school and family vacations being planned, now seems an ideal time to get outdoors and visit some of the province’s most pristine parks. Here are some of the more majestic locales.

Wabakimi (Thunder Bay)

Located in Thunder Bay, the second-largest provincial park has over “one million hectares of boreal forest” according to its official site. Meanwhile there is plenty of options such as moose hunting and birding, including trying to spot bald eagles and the Great Grey Owl. Add over 2000 kilometres of water routes for canoeing or kayaking and you have weeks of wilderness splendor.

Darlington (Bowmanville)

There are ample family activities around this site including fishing and hiking trails. Another plus is the park’s Tackleshare program which provides fishing gear to those without, enabling you to try your hand at landing a big catch. Besides family-oriented events such as evening films and campfires, Darlington also hosts hordes of Monarch butterflies every September.

Frontenac (Sydenham)

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Dubbed by some as the “threshold to wilderness,” Frontenac’s biggest assets are its array of hiking trails. Although some might take as little as 30 minutes to complete, there are more challenging trails which could take as long as seven hours. These include the 19-kilometer Big Salmon Lake Loop and the tougher Slide Lake Loop which is 21 kilometers.

Bronte Creek (Oakville)

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Far enough from the downtown core but close enough to make it a fantastic day trip, Bronte Creek offers year-round fun. The swimming area – all 1.8 acres of it – is the envy of other Ontario parks and is perfect for all ages. Meanwhile an animal farm great for children should placate other youngsters. Another perk is the annual ghost walks in August along the trails.

Sibbald Point (Sutton West)

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Situated on beautiful Lake Simcoe, Sibbald Point has a literary slant that complements its various hiking trails and birding excursions. The park is the burial place for Canadian author Stephen Leacock which is close to St. Anglican Church. Cycling, fishing and swimming are also great activities here.

Algonquin – Kearney Lake (Whitney)

Not to be confused with a scenic Nova Scotia area of the same name, Kearney Lake is a fisherman’s paradise. The park has over 230 lakes with plenty of trout within them. This is in addition to the stunning Algonquin Art Gallery on its grounds, the assortment of hiking routes and “public wolf howls” that take place in August every Thursday.

Bon Echo (Cloyne)

Few Ontario parks have such an eclectic visual as Bon Echo. Given the name in the late 19th century after Manizaw Rock’s acoustic properties, Bon Echo contains hundreds of ancient pictographs found on the rock face. Organized tours are available but those more adventurous can rent kayaks or canoes for a much closer look.

(Photo by OakleyOriginals via Flickr)