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Nov 25, 2020

6 min. read

Feeling cooped up? Even if it’s a bit chilly out, don those layers and head outdoors. A good dose of sunshine—hello vitamin D!—and crisp air can do wonders to balance out the hours spent indoors.

Here, we round up a list of year-round Ontario hiking trails offering stunning vistas, noteworthy landmarks and scenic outlooks perfect for a winter photo op.

  • 1. Niagara Glen Trail

  • 2. The Crack Trail

  • 3. Mount Nemo Trails

  • 4. The Caledon Trailway

  • 5. “Little Cat” Creek


Niagara Glen Trail

Begin at the Niagara Glen Nature Centre on Niagara Parkway, where a stairway leads to four kilometres of trails winding through old Carolinian Forest. Cradled at the bottom of Ontario between Lakes Erie, Huron and Ontario, this forest zone features incredible biodiversity and is home to more than 400 rare species of plants, animals and birds, and another 125 that are considered vulnerable, threatened or endangered. Take in incredible views of the Niagara River and the Niagara River Whirlpool, but don’t get too close—the waters are fast-moving and dangerous here. Be sure to dress for the weather, bring water and wear sturdy hiking footwear.

The Crack Trail

Regular visitors to Killarney Provincial Park will be familiar with “The Crack”—a deep crevasse that is near the culmination of this challenging six-kilometre round-trip trail. An old logging road hooks onto the La Cloche Silhouette Trail; the terrain becomes increasingly steep until you pass through The Crack and are greeted by a stunning view of crystal blue lakes, rocky outcrops and stately white pines. When you’re ready to come down, retrace your steps back to the parking lot. Budget about four hours for this hike, and add lots of extra time if you’re doing it in the winter. Those in the know say snowshoes and ice cleats or crampons are a must at this time of year—as are layers, plenty of water, flashlights and energy-fuelling snacks. Before you go, visit the park website to confirm dates of operation.

Mount Nemo Trails

Perched on the Niagara Escarpment above Burlington, Mount Nemo is close to the city but a world away when it comes to escaping the hustle and bustle. Managed by Conservation Halton, the year-round park includes a cliff edge ecosystem that is alive with birds, animals and unique foliage. Choose from three moderately-difficult trails ranging from 1.4 km to 3.3 km in length, and if it’s a clear day, check out the clifftop view of Toronto from the Brock Harris Lookout. As always, sturdy footwear is recommended, especially in winter. Admission fees are charged (through a cash-only self serve fee station in winter) and reservations must now be made. Click here to book your visit.

The Caledon Trailway

Just northwest of Brampton is beautiful Caledon, which includes a number of picturesque hamlets and villages set among rolling hillsides and farmland. The Caledon Trailway is a multi-use, 35-km trail that extends from Terra Cotta to Palgrave that, from Inglewood to Palgrave, is also part of The Great Trail. Pedestrians, cyclists, dogs and even horses are welcome on this former rail line that is ideal for hikers of all levels, although the surface is not groomed in winter. The trail can be accessed at various points, including the towns of Tottenham, Palgrave, and Caledon East, with limited parking spots available at most major road crossings. Check out this trail map for details.

“Little Cat” Creek

Winter is the best time of year at Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area, located just 15 minutes north of downtown Kingston, Ont. Four marshland trails are available for groomed cross-country skiing, and more are available for snowshoeing and hiking in the winter months. The park’s Outdoor Centre, which hosts a number of nature education programs and normally rents skis and snowshoes, is closed on weekends until further notice. For current information and admission fees, visit the park website.

Get more with CAA

Before you hit these trails, download the CAA Mobile App for your smartphone. Available for Android and iOS, it allows you to request and track roadside assistance service and look up nearby CAA Rewards partners.

Image credit: iStock.com/Imgorthand

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