While it’s assumed that you have to trek quite far to experience the greatest wonders of the world, we happen to have them in our own backyard that we too oftenly neglect. That’s right - affordable and close, Ontario is filled with an endless amount of places to explore, and I’m sure you haven’t been able to visit all of them.
With crystal blue water surrounding the Bruce Peninsula National Park and the natural astonishment of the Ouimet Canyon, here’s a list of the province’s best outdoor gems; places so good you won’t believe they exist.
An extension of the Fathom Five National Marine Park in Tobermory, the beauty of Flowerpot Island is something that you wouldn’t expect in the southwestern region of Ontario. With crystal blue water and jagged white rocks, an afternoon spent here will transport you onto the beaches of Greece.
About 60 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, the large gorge of Ouimet Canyon remains a breathtaking and astonishing site for those who encounter it. A gem within Ontario’s northwestern region, you don’t have to travel far to experience a beauty like this.
White Water Walk
While Niagara Falls may take the spotlight for the go-to tourist attraction, the roaring white-water rapids of the White Water Walk definitely comes at a close second. A natural wonder of Niagara River, access to the water is taken by an elevator ride that then connects you to the boardwalk trail overlooking the rapids.
Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
Another gem in Northwestern Ontario, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is a breathtaking 244-square-kilometre park located a little east of Thunder Bay. Over 100 kilometres of hiking trails and endless stunning views of Lake Superior, this northern wonder is something you need to add to your bucket list.
Located in Eganville, a township about four hours north of Toronto, the Bonnechere Caves are a popular tourist attraction that encourages visitors to explore the depths of this Ontario natural gem. Guided as a safe and educational tour, tourists of all ages can experience the wonder of the caves and the beautiful Bonnechere River.
The Scarborough Bluffs is not only a natural fascination close to Toronto, but one that people from all across the province should visit. Indeed, these breathtaking views happen to exist close by, so don’t miss out on exploring them.
Mono Cliffs Provincial Park
Situated within the rural town of Mono, the Mono Cliffs Provincial Park is located on the picturesque Bruce Trail and is part of the Niagara Escarpment Parks System. With numerous hiking trails and stunning views of the province’s natural beauty, a visit to the Mono Cliffs Provincial Park will transport you on a quiet and peaceful experience.
This is a unique one. A geologic term that explains “badlands” as an area of soft rock devoid of soil cover, this natural gem is situated in Caledon, Ontario. While the Cheltenham Badlands make for a stunning scenery, make sure to check their official website for news and updates on access to trails.
A massive waterfall on the Kaministiquia River, the Kakabeka Falls are located 30 kilometres west of Thunder Bay. A waterfall that is 40 metres in height, this Ontario natural treasure makes for some grand competition with the Niagara Falls, with it’s scenery and grandness quite similar.
Bon Echo Provincial Park
A park in Southeastern Ontario, the Bon Echo Provincial Park features numerous lakes and an endless stretch of magnificent scenery. Included in the park is the Mazinaw Lake, the seventh-deepest lake in the province. Canoeing and kayaking is also a regular activity within the area.
Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Preserve
Located only two hours from Toronto, this place really is a wonder; and it’s one that you have to experience yourself in order to fully capture it’s beauty. I’m not an expert at these kinds of things, so I won’t try to explain the reasoning behind this phenomenon. Basically, the Torrance Barrens Dark Sky offers some of the most stunning views of constellations, the Milky Way, and on a rare occasion - the Northern Lights.
Born and raised in the City of Waterfalls, a sight like Albion Falls isn’t exactly something that surprises me; since this is only one of the many gems scattered throughout Hamilton. Still, I can’t deny that it makes me stop and stare every time I visit, and so that should be reason enough for you to check out this beautiful natural awe as well.
If you want to explore this beautiful gem, then come prepared with hiking shoes and the appropriate wear for adventure. Made up of ten limestone caves, the Greig’s Caves are a stunning and peaceful natural treasure located in North Bruce Peninsula. Along with breathtaking views, Greig’s Caves are situated 300 feet above the waters of Georgian Bay.
Cup And Saucer Trail
While the views of Cup and Saucer are pretty similar to Hamilton’s Dundas Peak, this trail is a little less known though is just as beautiful. Located 18 kilometres west of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands, this stunning trail is an extension of the Niagara Escarpment and features 70 meter cliffs. If you’re interested in checking this place out for yourself, just remember to read up on their safety regulations and to be careful along the edge.
Another gem in the Bruce Peninsula National Park, the Grotto is a stunning and secluded area located on the Georgian Bay shoreline. A scenic cave that contains a crystal pool of blue water, this popular attraction becomes very busy during the summer due to it’s awesome reputation - so go check it out before the inevitable Canadian cold returns!
Agawa Canyon Park
Another stunner, this Ontario natural gem is surrounded by a green oasis that turns even more vibrant and colourful during the fall season. Located in Sault Ste. Marie, this beautiful area has a variety of trails and waterfalls, along with a breathtaking lookout and scenic views. If the hike isn’t for you, you can also experience the beauty by the park’s tour train!
Devil's Punch Bowl
The Devil’s Punch Bowl is another Hamilton gem, located in the community of Stoney Creek. A 34-metre ribbon waterfall, the place is separated into two waterfalls: the upper and lower falls. Also part of the Niagara Escarpment, the Punch Bowl was created at the end of the last ice age, when the melt-water rivers carved the Punch Bowl’s gorge.
Not to be confused with the Heart Lake Conservation Area in the northern part of Brampton, this stunning heart lake is a hidden gem found within a much smaller area. Located near Ompah, a small village in Eastern Ontario, the natural wonder of this heart-shaped water is definitely something worth checking out.
Lying within Wellington County, the Elora Gorge is a popular tourist attraction in the township of Elora. Approximately 2 kilometres long, along with limestone cliffs that reach about 22 metres in height, the gorge is a stunning area that is formed by glacial meltwaters. It is also perfect for hiking, and kayaking and tubing through the Grand River.
Located near St. Catharines, DeCew Falls is one of the stunning and picturesque waterfalls of the Niagara Escarpment. Situated below a historic mill, the falls are divided into two main waterfalls - the Upper DeCew Falls and the Lower DeCew Falls. The upper falls are 22 metres in height, while the lower falls is a 25 feet steep waterfall. Once you’ve gotten your look at the stunning cascade, you can also go swimming in one of their many bodies of water surrounding the area.
Lake On The Mountain
Located in Prince Edward County, the Lake on The Mountain is a natural phenomena that is made up of multiple contributing factors. The Lake on the Mountain is situated nearly 60 metres above the Bay of Quinte, and is considered quite the natural wonder. With theories such as volcanoes, meteorites, and massive whirlpools - the most suggested belief is that the lake is due to a collapsed sinkhole.
About a half an hour drive from Greig’s Caves in Lion’s Head, the Bruce Caves are located north east of Wiarton. It consists of seven hectares of the Niagara Escarpment, and also includes wooded swamps and some stunning jagged rocks. It was said that the caves were formed around 8000 years ago, and remains a stunning natural place in Ontario.