With Algonquin Provincial Park and plenty of smaller parks and locations easily accessed from major cities via a network of main and secondary roads, its easy to get out and explore the hiking trails found throughout Eastern Ontario and Cottage Country. This area of the province features many outstanding multi-day routes and plenty of short day-hikes, leading to some breathtaking vantage points. As rail lines continue to be pulled up, the rail beds are also being re-purposed as multi-use trail networks. The following are a few of our favorites.


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Abes & Essens Trail – Bon Echo Provincial Park (Map 41/F2)

Found off the north side of Joeperry Lake Road in Bon Echo Provincial Park, three interconnecting loops offer 4, 9 and 17 km (2.5, 5.5 and 11 mi) sections to explore. Visitors can expect to see beautiful views of the surrounding area, a kettle lake, huge boulders and remnants of past logging activity. It is possible to camp at one of the five interior campsites located along the moderate to difficult routes or set up basecamp in the Hardwood Hills campground. The trail is even more spectacular in the fall as the leaves begin to change colour.


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Big Salmon Lake Loop - Frontenac Provincial Park Trails

Frontenac Provincial Park lies in the heart of the Frontenac Axis in the southern Canadian Shield. The park is home to some 29 lakes and over 160 km (100 mi) of interior hiking trails and canoe routes. The Big Salmon Lake Loop is an extended trail that covers 19 km (12 mi) over a difficult, somewhat remote path. Several lookouts can be enjoyed from the shoreline forest and cliffs. Two 19th century homesteads near Black Lake and Little Clear Lake provide interesting insight into earlier life in the area.


Emily Tract

Those traveling along Highway 7 between Lindsay and Peterborough looking for a short hike to stretch their legs can do no better than the 2.5 km figure eight loop trail at Emily Tract found on County Road 14, just north of Omemee. The easy trail travels over glacial land and features moraines and eskers, offering a perfect family hike.


Wild Camping – Forgotten Trails


Forgotten Trails (Map 88/B2–C4)

The Forgotten Trails are a series of small trails found east of South River which can be accessed off Chemical Road. These trails situated along logging roads and back roads include the 2 km long Laurie Fire Tower and Moose Mountain Trails. Both offer a nice vantage point. The Tom Thomson Portage Trail is currently a 2 km trek to Maryjane Lake, although the full historic trail is being restored. The One-a-day Trail leads 2.4 km to the lake of the same name from Chemical Road. For a longer trek, the 8.5 km (5.3 mi) Loxton Beaver Trail leads to the Loxton Lake Dam and Beaver Lake from Chemical Road. The area sits primarily on Crown land so wild camping is possible, just watch for logging operations.


Huckleberry Trail - Muskoka


Huckleberry Rock Trail (Map 50/E6)

Located southeast of Port Carling in the Muskokas, the trailhead for this route can be found off Milford Bay Road. The trail is a moderate 2.5 km (1.6 mi) loop with an elevation gain of 30 m (100 ft) that traverses hilly, rocky terrain to a scenic lookout. En route to the lookout, visitors will pass through a stand of pine and past a bog.


Lakeshore Trail – Silent Lake


Lakeshore Trail - Silent Lake Provincial Park Trails

Silent Lake lies 24 km to the south of Bancroft on the south side of Highway 28. Its mixture of hardwood and softwood forests and marshes host two mountain bike loops and three hiking trails. A rugged hike around the perimeter of Silent Lake, the 15 km (9.3 mi) Lakeshore Trail is a challenging trek along the undeveloped shoreline. A good supply of water is required and the hike’s rewards are the many great lookout points along the route.


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Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve Trails (Map 69/G7)

Located northeast of Dwight, off Highway 60, Limberlost is a hidden gem. The lodge is home to over 70 km (43 mi) of trails and woodland roads. Many are groomed allowing for jogging and while others have been widened to allow hikers to walk side by side. The trails vary in length from 4 km (2.5 mi) to the highly popular Solitaire Trail at 13 km (8 mi). There are numerous link trails and offshoots, offering longer outings and new spots to explore. During the winter trails are open to cross-country skiers, snowshoers and fat bike riders. Visitors are asked to stop and register at the main lodge and sign a waiver before venturing onto the trails, but access is free. Full details including trail maps and descriptions can be found at the lodge’s website, limberlostforest.com


Eagle’s Nest Lookout - Calabogie


Manitou Mountain Trail  

One of a number of trails near Calabogie, Manitou Mountain is a 9 km (5.6 mi) one-way hike ideally done by parking a vehicle at both ends. Beginning at the Barrett Chute Trailhead, the forested route climbs 4 km to the Red Arrow Rock and Manitou  Mountain Lookouts then continues 3.5 km to the Eagle’s Nest Lookout and from there, a further 1.5 km to the Calabogie Road Trailhead. Hikers can expect an elevation gain of 435 m (1,427 ft).


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Recollet Falls Trail - French River Provincial Park

Situated beside one of Ontario’s most historic waterways, the Recollet Falls Trail is a moderately difficult hike that spans a return distance of 4 km (2.5 mi). As the name suggests, the falls and river are main feature of the trail, which is located at the French River Visitor Centre on Highway 69.


Track and Tower Trail – Algonquin Park


Track and Tower Trail

In addition to a pair of long-distance backpacking routes, a number of day hikes can be accessed via Highway 60 in Algonquin Park. It’s tough to choose a favorite here. The Centennial Ridges Trail offers some outstanding scenery as it climbs up and down two high ridges while the Whiskey Rapids Trail follows a small river and through some excellent birding areas. But, for a perfect cross-section of Algonquin, the 7.5 km (4.7 mi) Track and Tower Trail features a bit of everything. The trail begins by following a creek to Cache Lake under a canopy of large hemlocks, leading to a dam and rapids along the Madawaska River. The trail then climbs to the location of an old fire tower and lookout before descending and picking up an old railroad bed. The route then plunges back into the forest and heads back to the trailhead, passing many large rockfaces.




These are just a few of the many hiking trails spread throughout Eastern Ontario and Cottage Country. Did we miss your favorite route? Let us know. Our Cottage Country Ontario Backroad Mapbook, Ontario GPS Maps and Algonquin Provincial Park Waterproof Map are excellent resources for exploring this area of Ontario.


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