Ontario: A Backpacker's Paradise
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Ontario is a Backpacker’s Paradise

Ontario, Canada, is a vast and diverse province known for its stunning landscapes, pristine northern wilderness, and endless opportunities for outdoor adventure. For backpackers seeking to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the region, Ontario offers a variety of remarkable destinations. In this article, we’ll explore our top three favourite places to backpack in Ontario and a bonus runners-up.

Killarney Provincial Park – La Cloche Silhouette Trail

Killarney Provincial Park, often referred to as the “Crown Jewel of Ontario Parks,” is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Located on the northern shores of Georgian Bay, this park is renowned for its striking pink granite cliffs, crystal-clear lakes, and lush forests. 

The La Cloche Silhouette Trail, is a challenging 80-kilometre loop that takes hikers through diverse landscapes; including dense forests, serene lakeshores, and rugged white-granite mountains. The stunning views from the peaks along the trail make the effort 100% worth it. 

The trail is very well marked and features many designated backcountry campsites. Most campsites provide easy access to a pristine, swimmable lake. If you’re not sure about hiking, Killarney is also known as a canoeists paradise, with a variety of routes to take with varying difficulties. 

Over the years, Killarney has become more and more popular, making it difficult to book sites (even in the backcountry). A great alternative is Heaven’s Gate Trail, just a couple of hours east. It features the same mountain range as Killarney, but there are no officially designated campsites and no front-country amenities. If you need flexibility or want to go last minute, this is a great choice!

Ontario: A backpacker's paradise
Ontario: A backpacker's paradise
Pukaskwa National Park – The Coastal Trail

Venturing further north along the shores of Lake Superior, backpackers will discover the remote and awe-inspiring Pukaskwa National Park. As Ontario’s only wilderness national park, Pukaskwa offers an unparalleled opportunity to experience the untamed beauty of the boreal forest and the rugged shoreline.

The Coastal Hiking Trail, stretching over 60 kilometres along the Lake Superior coastline, is a challenging but immensely rewarding route for backpackers. Towering cliffs, secluded beaches, and panoramic views of the vast lake make this trek an unforgettable adventure. Backpackers may encounter wildlife such as black bears, moose, and bald eagles, adding an extra layer of excitement to the journey.

As a linear trail, backpackers have some flexibility with how far in they want to venture. If you want to do the whole trail, but not there and back, you can hire a water taxi to drop you off at the end and hike your way out. Or, if you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can hike the whole 120 kilometers in and out. 

For a shorter, loop route, consider the Mdaabi Miikna trail that was opened around 2017. While the trail is not as well beaten as the much older Coastal trail, it also offers stunning views, crystal clear waters and gorgeous campsites. However, if you were to hike this loop from the trail head, your total mileage would be approximately 30 kilometres round trip. Don’t let the distance fool you! This terrain is just as challenging as the Coastal trail, just shorter but just as beautiful.

For more information on this trail, click HERE

Lake Superior Provincial Park: Coastal Trail

Nestled between Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa, Lake Superior Provincial Park boasts some of the most breathtaking scenery in Ontario. With its rugged terrain, dense forests, and pristine lakeshores, this park offers an array of backpacking opportunities suitable for all skill levels.

The Coastal Trail within Lake Superior Provincial Park is a 65-kilometre linear trail that winds along the rugged shoreline of the largest of the Great Lakes. Backpackers will witness the power of Lake Superior’s waves crashing against the cliffs, and the trail offers access to beautiful sandy beaches and hidden cobblestone coves. 

Within the park, there are many different access points to the trail. This means you can tailor your trip to your backpacking goals. Want a shorter hike? Choose one of the many access points along the trail. Want to only hike one way? Get a taxi from Wawa to drop you off at one end. Want mostly sandy beach walking? Hike the middle portion! The possibilities are endless!

Here’s a video to help you plan your trip!

Ontario: A backpacker's paradise
Casque Isles Trail
Runner Up – Casque Isles Trail

This little known trail is a hidden gem located on the north shore of Lake Superior between Terrace Bay and Rossport. This 53-kilometre linear trail boasts all of the same beauty and views of the Lake Superior Coastal Trail and Pukaskwa Coastal Trail, but without the need for reservations or paying for camping. 

Maintained with dedication by the enthusiastic volunteers of the Casques Isles Hiking Club and the Voyageur Trail Association, the Casque Isles Trail holds significance as a crucial part of both The Great Trail and the Voyageur Hiking Trail. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced hiker, the trail is segmented into five sections with 11 access points, providing the flexibility to tackle this journey in smaller portions or conquer it all in one go—the decision is entirely yours to make. 

The trail is the best marked trail we’ve ever been on! Each campsite also boasts bear boxes, privies and…. picnic tables! It’s essentially backcountry luxury out here!

If you’re interested in this trail, check out our Trail Guide. 

Ontario’s diverse landscapes and abundance of fresh water lakes provide a stunning variety of backpacking opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. These are just a few of our favourites, but there are so many more out there to explore! So, pack your backpack, lace up your hiking boots, and embark on an adventure in Ontario’s backpacker’s paradise.

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