Backpacking in Central Ontario North
Backpacking There are two long distance backpacking trails which pass through the Central Ontario North Region. The northern section of the Bruce Trail winds its way to its terminus at Tobermory from its distant starting point at Niagara Falls in the south. The Ganaraska Trail makes it's way from eastern Ontario through the Orillia area and on through Wasaga Beach until it makes its final interconnect with the Bruce. On Beausoleil Island, in Georgian Bay National Park, you'll find a series of hiking trails which can be combined to make up an overnight backpacking trip. There are also three excellent backpacking trails in Algonquin Park, which borders on the eastern most boundaries of the region. Ontario has many other long distance trails, some of which we've listed should you wish to go exploring further afield.
Bruce Trail - This is Ontario's premier hiking and backpacking trail extending almost 800km in length. The trail starts in the south near the falls at Niagara and heads north to the Bruce Peninsula, terminating in the beautiful little town of Tobermory. There are dozens of campsites on route and a wide variety of access points allowing you to customize your trip to match your fitness level or time schedule.  

The trail enters the North Central region from the south, east of Barrie and almost due south of Collingwood in Simcoe County. It then heads northwest to Craiglieth before winding its way west to Owen Sound, then veers north along the eastern edge of the Bruce Peninsula to Wiarton, Lions Head then through Bruce Peninsula National Park and on to the peninsulas' tip.

Trail Access Points in the North Central Region - From South to North


  • Nottawasaga Bluffs Conservation Area
  • Devil's Glen Provincial Park
    Nottawasaga Lookout
  • Pretty River Provincial Park
    Petun Conservation Area
  • Loree Conservation Area
    Kolapore Uplands
  • Duncan Escarpment Provincial Nature Reserve
  • Old Baldy Conservation Area
    Eugenia Falls Conservation Area
  • Wodehouse Karst
  • Herman McConnell Memorial Forest
  • Beaverdale Forest Area
  • Epping Lookout
  • Walters Falls Conservation Area
  • Spey River Forest Area
  • Inglis Falls Conservation Area
  • Harrison Park
  • West Rocks
  • East Rocks
  • Syndenham Forest
  • Pottawatomi Conservation Area
  • Brookholm
  • Keppel Forest
  • Indian Falls Conservation Area
  • Glen Management Area
    Indian Creek Management Area
  • Lindenwood
  • Gowen Lake
  • Kemble Mount Management Area
  • Slough of Despond
  • Skinner's Bluff Conservation Area
  • Colpoy Lookout
  • Bruce Caves Conservation Area
  • Spirit Rock Conservation Area
  • Colpoy's Bluff
  • Hope Bay Forest Provincial Nature Reserve
  • Lion's Head Provincial Nature Reserve
  • Smokey Head White Bluffs Provincial Nature Reserve
  • Cape Chin
  • Bruce Peninsula National Park

For more information on any of the above have follow the the appropriate link.

Ontario's Conservation Areas
Ontario's Provincial Parks
Bruce Peninsula National Park

Bruce Trail Clubs in the North Central Region from - South to North

Out-There's Bruce Trail Feature


  Ganaraska Trail - 500+km. The Ganaraska starts on the shores of Lake Ontario at Port Hope, less than an hour from Toronto. From there it wends its way north before veering to the west above Lake Simcoe, then passes Barrie on the way to Wasaga Beach on the shores of Georgian Bay before connecting with the Bruce. The section above Moore Falls north of Port Hope is considered the most difficult and only suitable for seasoned hikers. Once the Oak Ridges Moraine Trail is complete you will be able to combine it with the Bruce and the Ganaraska creating a mammoth long distance loop.
From Port Hope on Lake Ontario in the South central Region of the Province its a considerable distance before the trail reaches the North Central Region west of Orillia. From here it heads southwest to Craighurst (there is a spur just before which will soon reach Midland) and then on through Midhurst, Angus and Creemore. After Creemore there is another spur which works its way up through Collingwood and on towards (but not yet connecting with) Penetanguishene. Further to the west the trail connects with the Bruce which allows you to continue on to Tobermory at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula.

Ganaraska South to North Description - The Pine Ridge section starts at the cairn opposite the Town hall in Port Hope, beside the Ganaraska River and within sight of Lake Ontario. The wilderness section above this starts in Moore Falls, where highway 35 meets the Black Lake Cottage road. The Peterborough section is almost entirely in Victoria County. The Orillia section starts in Sadowa and ends after 68 kilometers at the Sugarbush Estate, south of Horseshoe Valley Road, about 10 km east of highway 400. This section of the trail is mostly flat and suitable for novices. The Mad River section is named after the Mad River, which it parallels for some distance. It has a length of 55 kilometers and ends at the end-of-trail cairn. The Midland section splits off from the main trail in the Copeland Forest, about three kilometers east of Craighurst. It swings through Copeland Forest and then heads north toward Midland along country paths and forests. The Wasaga section of the trail winds through the sand hills of beautiful Wasaga Beach Provincial Park . Map From the *For more information contact the Ganaraska Trail Association through their web site*


Algonquin Park Backpacking Trails

  • Western Uplands Trail - Out-There's Algonquin Park - Intermediate-Expert, Multiple Loops. Access is off Hwy 60 near the west gate but you can also access it from the other end off of route 11, through Kearney. This is an excellent backpacking area which is often over shadowed by the parks canoe reputation. There are over 100km (includes loop sections) of trail with dozens of campsites along route, many or which are lakeside. *For more information contact the Friends of Algonquin or Algonquin Provincial Park through their web site.*
  • Highland Backpacking Trail - Out-There's Algonquin Park - Intermediate, Loop. Located in the center of the park's main corridor off highway 60. The trail consists of two loops with a total length of about 33km. The shorter most accessible loop circles Provoking Lake. *For more information contact the Friends of Algonquin or Algonquin Provincial Park through their web site.*
  • Eastern Pines Backpacking Trail - Out-There's Algonquin Park - Novice, Intermediate - A set of loops located in the parks eastern section, outside of the main corridor its accessible from Hwy 17. This is a great place to bring novices since the trail provides camping not far from the trail head. There are other options that are more challenging for the more experienced. *For more information contact the Friends of Algonquin or Algonquin Provincial Park through their web site.*


Georgian Bay Islands National Park - Beausoleil Island Trial

The park is in a spectacular setting in Georgian Bay, just off shore. The backpacking trail is on Beausoleil Island, which is only accessible by water. Beausoleil is the parks main island and consists of lightly wooded areas mixed with rocky shores and sand. The trails are most secluded on the back side of the island which also unfortunately provides the longest stretch without a campsite. There is 24 km of trail and there are 15 camp areas along the way. If you want an extended outting.head south from Cedar Springs campground Beausoleil Point campsite along the Huron Trail. The next day head north along the islands west coast on the Georgian Trail where you can connect with either the Rockview or Massassauga Trail and head for one of several campsite in the north of the park. You can return to your kick off point by following the Huron Trail (branch off on the Treasure if you want another route) back to Cedar Springs. This is only one of several routes you can stitch together on the island which can range from an overnight to several days.The island is only accessible by water so if you don't have access to a boat you can hire a water taxi in honey harbour. Contact the park for campsite reservations and fees.


Other Ontario Backpacking Trails

  • Oak Ridges Moraine Trail - A Work in Progress - The completed sections include Uxbridge, King, and Scugog and the association is working to develop the Aurora, Caledon, Whitchurch and Ganaraska areas. Why not give them a hand, go to their website to see how you can help. *For more information contact the trail association through their web site.* - South Central Region
  • The Waterfront Trail - Not a wilderness and some might say not a backpacking trail at all. This most interesting of trails, travels a distance of 350km from Stoney Creek on the western shore of Lake Ontario to Quinte West in the east (sounds funny doesn't it). There are ample campgrounds along route in Conservation Areas and Provincial Parks. One big advantage to being close to (it runs right through the city of Toronto) urban areas is the reduced need to carry a lot of food. Don't think this is a concrete foot path, even though it does need to use the roads at times, it passes through some of the nicest natural settings on Lake Ontario's north shore. *For more information contact the trail association through their web site.* - South Central, Toronto & Southwestern Regions of Ontario

  • The following are several hours to a day from the region

  • Voyageur Trail - This is a very ambitious project which takes advantage of a number of the trails already in place. Traveling along the shores of Lake Superior, the North Channel of Georgian Bay then through the rugged beauty of Manitoulin island, this will be a spectacular and very difficult trail when it's completed. For the truly ambitious, you can connect to the Bruce Trail by using the South Bay to Tobermory ferry to continue hiking down to Niagara Falls. The trail will run from South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island to Thunder Bay in Northwestern Ontario a total of 1,100km. To date, over 600km have been completed including established sections in Lake Superior Provincial Park and Pukaskwa National Park along the spectacular north shore of Superior. *For more information contact the trail association through their web site.* - Ontario North
  • La Cloche SilhouetteTrial - Out-There's Killarney Provincial Park - Located in Killarney Provincial Park, the La Cloche Silhouette loop is a seven to ten day hike approximately 100 km in length. The trail takes you through some of the most spectacular scenery in Ontario. It includes forested sections, as well as ridge hiking along the La Cloche Mountains. Many of the camp sites along the way are located lakeside and are shared by canoeists. This is a tough backpack and you should be in shape if you intend to complete the whole thing. A trail map can be purchased from the Friends of Killarney Park. *For more information contact the Friends or Killarney Provincial Park through their web site.* - Ontario North
  • Abes and Essen Trail - The trail consists of three overlapping loops. The loops from shortest to longest take about 1.5, 4 and 7hrs to complete and provide a great weekend getaway or a single overnight trip. There is an excellent lookout above Essen Lake providing a nice panoramic view. All of the campsites are lake side, a pleasant setting for a weary backpacker which of course also offers the possibility of a refreshing swim. *For more information contact Bon Echo Provincial Park or the Friends of Bon Echo through their web site. - Ontario East

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