We’ve stayed home and followed the social distancing rules – we deserve a (socially responsible) escape. Head into the wild by planning a hike in the myriad of green spaces found in southern and eastern Ontario; most of the below hikes are only a short drive from Toronto. From former railway lines winding through vineyards to visiting the province’s rare old growth forest, plan an excursion far from the madding crowds and fill your lungs with some fresh air while hitting 10,000 steps. Note: Please be a responsible traveller. Stay home if you don’t feel well and make sure holiday plans follow the latest guidelines to keep healthy and safe. Check Ontario Parks for up to date information regarding COVID-19 restrictions here and fees here.

1. Ball’s Falls Conservation Area Trail, Niagara

 

Best for: Everyone: Couples, Friends, Families
Season: Year-round
Cost: From $8.00
Driving distance from Toronto:  1 hour 10 minutes
Website: www.npca.ca

Peek into the past while wandering this green zone, a former 19th century industrial village with the ruins of the church, saw mill and blacksmith shop. Get ready to take endless snapshots of the Twenty Mile Creek waterfalls; kick it up notch combining the Cataract Trail and the Forest Frolic Trail.

 

2. Millennium Trail, Prince Edward County

Best for: Everyone: Couples, Friends, Families
Season: Year-round
Cost: Free
Driving distance from Toronto:  2.5 hours
Website: www.visitpec.ca

This former railway line meanders for almost 50 kilometres, with several access points to allow for short jaunts or a strenuous power walk. The majority of the pathway is paved and shared with local PEC farms. Different sections can lead to a mid-walk reward like a winery, art gallery or farm stand, or consider the Millennium pub crawl to sip and stroll through several PEC vineyards.

 

3. Sauble Falls, Bruce Peninsula

 

Best for: Everyone: Couples, Friends, Families
Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Cost: From $13.27
Driving distance from Toronto:  3 hours
Website: www.ontarioparks.com/park/saublefalls/

Hit the main trail of the park to gaze at the main attraction, but don’t forget swimsuit if a dip in the cool waters is wanted. For those seeking solitude or want to try forest bathing, the Sauble Trail is an easy walk of 2.5 kilometres, meandering through a quiet woodland of red pine trees, and will convince anyone the benefits of becoming a tree hugger.

 

4. Rouge National Urban Park, Toronto

Best for: Everyone: Couples, Friends, Families
Season: Year-round
Cost: Free
Driving distance from Toronto: 45 minutes from downtown
Website: www.pc.gc.ca

At the largest national park in Canada, there’s a wide variety of hikes from a half hour to a half day. The Orchard Trail features the insta-worthy “Avenue of Trees,” the remains of a 19th century settlement and the possibility of seeing Bufflehead ducks and painted turtles. Bonus: it’s the only national park that can be reached by Toronto’s transit system.

 

5. Pine Grove, Ottawa

View this post on Instagram

The NCC protects and manages 23 stunning urban parks in Ottawa–Gatineau, most of which boast great picnic areas, like Hog's Back Falls Park! 🌳 ✅ Pack a lunch, or support a nearby local business ✅ Keep 2m from others Click the link in our bio to find the perfect spot. 📷: @passportunities // La CCN gère et protège 23 parcs urbains magnifiques à Ottawa-Gatineau, et la plupart d’entre eux comptent des endroits parfaits pour les piqueniques! 🌳 ✅ Apportez votre lunch, ou commandez pour emporter d’un restaurant local ✅ Maintenez une distance de 2 mètres avec les autres Cliquz le lien dans notre bio pour trouver l'endroit idéal! . . . . . #hogsbackfalls #hogsback #ottawa #gatineau #canada #happycanadaday #myottawa #monottawa #getoutside #exploreyourcity

A post shared by NCC-CCN (@ncc_ccn) on

Best for: Everyone: Couples, Friends, Families
Season: Year-round
Cost: Free
Driving distance from Toronto: 4.5 hours
Website: www.ncc-ccn.gc.ca/places/pine-grove

Shade seekers will appreciate this parkland near Ottawa, the largest forest in the Greenbelt, a protected zone of the Capital Region. Trail 43 is a four kilometre circle, where it’s easy to get in the steps and learn from the interpretation panels about the red pines and the history of the region. Bring your canine pal – this area includes popular off-leash park, Conroy Pit.

 

6. Elora Cataract Trailway

Best for: Everyone: Couples, Friends, Families
Season: Year-round
Cost: Free
Driving distance from Toronto:  1.5 hours
Website: http://trailway.org/

The former route of the Credit Valley Railway now provides a lengthy trail to explore many of the smaller Wellington County communities like Belwood, Hillsburgh and Erin. With multiple access points, the trail is also located within the Grand River Conservation Authority, with plenty of tree groves, meadows and bird species to discover during a short hike or a day-long excursion.

 

7. Grey Sauble Conservation Area, Meaford

Best for: Everyone: Couples, Friends, Families
Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Cost: Free
Driving distance from Toronto:  2.5 hours
Website: www.trouthollow.ca

Explore the Big Head River Valley along the Trout Hollow Trail, which offers 14 kilometres of easy, moderate and difficult walks through woodlands and flower meadows. Following the banks of the river there are remnants of this area’s industrial past and the possibility of sighting wildlife like deer, kingfisher and wild turkey.

 

8. Bruce Trail

Best for: Everyone: Couples, Friends, Families
Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Cost: From $12.25
Driving distance from Toronto:  2.5 hours
Website: www.ontariotrails.on.ca 

The oldest and longest footpath in Canada, the historic Bruce Trail offers 900 kilometres of trail from Niagara to Tobermory. Pick a section, like the path from Blantyre to Wiarton to discover the Bayview Escarpment Nature Reserve. Botany lovers take note: there are 20 native species of ferns found here as well as a pine plantation and views of Georgian Bay.

 

9. Peter’s Woods, Centreton

View this post on Instagram

Blue skies and perfect weather made for an amazing day for our annual monitoring at one of our #ProtectedProperties last week! We saw dozens of Monarchs flying around the meadows and a Green Frog bathing in the waters of the #HumberRiver. As we travelled through the trails, we noticed a female Northern Harrier soaring over the fields, followed soon after by a Red-tailed Hawk soaring high in the skies, both scanning for mice to swoop down and catch. Our protected properties ensure that these species, and many more, will have the habitat they need in order to thrive, forever. Our monitoring allows us to check in and make sure everything is safe and sound. 🌱 We are grateful for the Patrick and Barbara Keenan Foundation, the Regional Municipality of York and all our other wonderful supporters that have made this work possible. Thank you! 🌱 #ormlt #ORMLandTrust #conservation #nature #getoutside #explorenature #wildlife #landtrust #protectnature #biodiversity #protectwildlife #naturelovers

A post shared by Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust (@ormlandtrust) on

Best for: Everyone: Couples, Friends, Families
Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Cost: From $12.25
Driving distance from Toronto: 1.5 hours
Website: www.ontarioparks.com/park/peterswoods

Gain bragging rights by hiking the historic Oak Ridges Moraine containing the oldest growth forest in the province, with a plethora of sugar maple beech, red oak, white pine and hemlock trees. This short trail is accessible to all and with its unforgettable forest grove (and monarch butterflies), makes for a welcome place for amateur and professional photographers.