10 Hidden Gem Hikes Near Toronto

Toronto is a vibrant city with everything one could ever want within its city limits. In addition to wild nightlife, art and music culture, and rich history, Toronto also has incredible parks and preserves with many trails. Although for long-time Toronto residents or people looking to head off the beaten track, it can be hard to find a hike in or around Toronto that is not packed with people. With Southern Ontario’s population constantly growing, finding a patch of forest that feels like your own can be more challenging, but don’t worry, they still exist! Here is my list of 10 hidden gem hikes near Toronto that will ignite your wanderlust and get you on the trails!

  1. High Dump Camp Trail

Length: 16.1km

Type: Out and back

Difficulty: Moderate

Near Tobermory, Ontario, High Dump Camp is a longer trail that takes some determination to complete. The work you put in is worth the effort as the trail leads you through beautiful forests and marshes as it winds by Long Marsh and Upper Andrew Lake. The path will lead you to your slice of heaven along the Caribbean blue waters of Georgian Bay. It is the perfect alternative to The Grotto in Bruce Peninsula National park, especially if this is not your first time in the area. If you’re brave, take a dip in the frigid waters along the shore.

Woman in a bikini in crystal blue water
  1. Rockwood Conservation Area

Length: 2.9km

Type: Loop

Difficulty: Easy

This trail in the Rockwood Conservation area, just outside Guelph, Ontario, is a scenic hike that takes you around the Eramosa River and gives you spectacular views of Rockwood Falls. You can also explore the ruins of an abandoned wool mill constructed in 1867. It makes a great hike with a little slice of Ontario history to go with it!

  1. Inglis Falls Trail

Length: 6.3km

Type: Out and back

Difficulty: Easy

This beautiful trail is open year-round for you to explore and is worth seeing in all seasons. As the trail winds through lush forests, it will lead you toward the Sydenham River and spectacular views of Inglis Falls. It is one of the best hiking trails near Toronto.

A woman making a heart with her hands in front of a waterfall
  1. Shield Trail

Length: 8km

Type: Loop

Difficulty: Easy

Bon Echo is easily one of the most underrated Provincial Parks in Ontario, often overlooked in favor of Algonquin Provincial Park or the Muskokas. Bon Echo is a park you definitely should not miss. The Shield Trail leads you along old Addington settlement road, heading into the Canadian Shield. You will hike through towering hardwood forests, cedar lowlands, and Bon Echo lake. It is an excellent escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

  1. Osler Bluffs Trail

Length: 16.1km

Type: Out and back

Difficulty: Moderate

This trail near The Blue Mountains takes you over a part of the Niagara Escarpment, a limestone ridge spanning from Niagara in the south to Manitoulin Island in the north. The incredible views of the landscape from the top of the ridge are the cherry on top of this hike, and the shady and flat trail provides relief on sunny days. Did I mention Osler Bluff’s lookout is the highest point along the Bruce Trail?

  1. Paradise Highway Part 1, Kolapore Wilderness

Length: 4.8km

Type: Loop

Difficulty: Moderate

Offering beautiful views of the rolling Blue Mountains, it’s hard to beat hiking here. This loop trail will take you through limestone caves and grooves that can only be seen in this part of Ontario. There are also plenty of trails in the nearby area to combine and make a day of it. 

  1. Old Baldy Lookout

Length: 4.3 km

Type: Loop

Difficulty: Moderate

This lookout point, nestled in the Grey Highlands of Ontario, makes the perfect day hike from Toronto for those looking to get out of the city. You will see amazing views of the landscape from the lookout point. This less busy trail is open year-round, which is excellent for those who want to try their hand at winter hiking or snowshoeing. 

  1. Smokey Hollow Falls 

Length: 3.5 km 

Type: Loop

Difficulty: Easy

Smokey Hollow Falls is one of Southern Ontario’s less frequented waterfall hikes, which is perfect if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path hike near Toronto. The waterfalls can be raging, especially right after a good rainstorm, so if you don’t mind the mud, that would be the best time to see them. The falls itself is not a long hike, and the viewing platform makes it quite accessible, but it is close to The Great Falls hike, which I recommend also visiting.

  1. Dunes Trail, Sandbanks Provincial Park

Length: 2.4 km

Type: Loop

Difficulty: Easy

If the warm waters don’t attract you to Sandbanks, the dunes sure will! The most unique landscape in the area is the dunes at Sandbanks Provincial Park. This trail will take you up and over them to look out onto this interesting landscape. It is an excellent area to bird-watch and observe the local flora and fauna. It’s perfect for children and families of all ages. Still, it is often overlooked by beachgoers in favor of water and water sports. These 25-meter-high sand ridges were caused in part by glacier movement at the end of the last ice age, soil erosion, timber cutting, and poor farming practices in the 1800s. Although the Dunes trail is not always frequented, the beaches are, so the parking fills up fast, and it’s a good idea to get there early.

  1. The Summit Loop, Rock Dunder 

Length: 5 km 

Type: Loop

Difficulty: Moderate

Last but not least on our list is Rock Dunder. This pink granite rock stands put above the crowd, literally. Rock Dunder is all that remains of the Grenville Mountains, which dominated this area at the beginning of the last ice age. Walk through the lush forest and take the more challenging climb to the summit to catch an immaculate view of the Rideau River. Unfortunately, the land is privately owned by Rideau Waterway Land Trust and is only open between May and November. You will also need a day pass to enter, which can be purchased online or in person. 

Southern Ontario has many natural wonders, beautiful trails, and hidden gems left to explore. Want to get out your real adventure boots? Break into Northern Ontario and check out these other articles for more hidden gem hikes: 

10 Hidden Gem Hikes Near Sudbury

10 Hidden Gem Hikes Near Thunder Bay

Follow my blog for more Ontario travel!

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