Top 10 Things To Do In Northern Ontario
With spectacular scenery, rugged wilderness and warm hospitality, Northern Ontario is an amazing year round destination. During the colder months, you’ll find the area alive with exciting winter activities such as ice fishing, ice climbing and snowshoeing. In warmer weather, visitors come to the enjoy nature in the form of hiking and camping, to explore the great towns and cities, and to partake in the beautiful waters of the area’s many lakes and rivers.
Where is Northern Ontario?
What is actually classified as Northern Ontario takes up the vast majority of the province. For travel purposes, the Northern Ontario tourism region is divided into four: Algoma Country, Northeastern Ontario, Superior Country and Sunset Country. Driving up from Southern Ontario, you will first find yourself in Northeastern Ontario, which encompasses Manitoulin Island, Sudbury, North Bay and Timmins. Next is Algoma Country with Sault Ste. Marie as the biggest city. If you continue to drive around the Lake Superior shore (a very worthy road trip), you’ll hit Superior Country — home to Thunder Bay. At the far western end of Ontario, bordering Manitoba, is beautiful and remote Sunset Country.
If you’ve been dreaming of a visit to Ontario’s north, read on below of a list of our top 10 ways to experience Northern Ontario in 2022.
For even more inspiration, browse through Landsby’s list of amazing Northern Ontario trip, tours and experiences to see all the great things on offer in this region.
Here’s our list of the Top 10 Ways To Experience Northern Ontario:
1. Take an e-cycle tour of Manitoulin Island
Located in the azure waters of Lake Huron, Manitoulin Island in the largest freshwater island in the world. With 108 inland lakes and countless beautiful vistas, the island is a dream to explore. An amazing way to see the island and experience its incredible Indigenous roots and fascinating pioneer history is on our 5-day guided cycling adventure.
2. Explore the Agawa Canyon by train
Formed more than 1.2 billion years ago by faulting along the Canadian Shield, the Agawa Canyon is a must-see destination located in the sparsely populated Algoma District in Northeastern Ontario. The canyon walls reach 575 feet above the Algoma River, with a few scenic waterfalls and many epic lookouts. The Agawa Canyon train leaves from Sault Ste. Marie and takes passengers on a one-day wilderness adventure. Passengers are treated to incredible views as the train hugs the top of the canyon wall before slowly descends 500 feet into the canyon floor at the Agawa Canyon Park. You’ll have some time to wander the park before heading back along the 183 km route. The journey is especially spectacular in the fall.
3. Spend a day at the beach at Pancake Bay Provincial Park
Walking along the 3.2 km sandy beach overlooking Caribbean-blue water at Pancake Bay Provincial Park should be on everyone’s summer list of things to do. Located just north of Sault Ste. Marie, along the stunning shores of Lake Superior, Pancake Bay is sheltered from the open lake by two protective promontories. The park offers camping, hiking, a 14-km biking trail and some incredible panoramic views of the bay.
4. Go glamping in the wilderness
Luxurious prospector tents, decked out with a queen-sized bed, log furniture and electricity, are set in the forest just south of Timmins. Beautifully located on the northern shore of Lake Kenogamissi, this eco-camp adventure offers adventure on and off the water. Enjoy delicious cuisine, relax in comfort and take in the beauty of Northern Ontario.
5. Hike Lake Superior Country
The most famous hike on Lake Superior’s Canadian shore is the challenging 23 km Top of the Giant trail in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, which offers unparalleled views from the top of Ontario’s tallest cliff. But it is certainly not the only scenic hike worth doing in the area. In fact, the Lake Superior shoreline is full of incredible hiking trails for all levels of fitness and most will offer stunning views of the lake and surrounding region. Try the 10 km Nipigon River Trail that connects the towns of Red Rock and Nipigon, just over an hour outside of Thunder Bay or the 5 km Under The Volcano Trail at Neys Provincial Park (be sure to wear sturdy shoes as the rocks get slippery when wet).
6. Fly in to Pine Portage Lodge
For an out-of-the-ordinary experience, book the Wilderness Adventure trip to Pine Portage Lodge. You’ll fly more than 100 km in a float plane from Wawa to Kabinakagmi Lake, with panoramic views over Northern Ontario’s vast wilderness along the way. At the lodge, you’ll be able to craft your own experience from the multitude of outdoor activities available, include wildlife viewing, fishing, paddling and hiking. Throw in some beautiful sunsets, starry nights by the fire and three delicious meals cooked for you daily and you’ve got one perfect Northern Ontario vacation. For another floatplane adventure into Northern Ontario, try our Quintessential Canada getaway!
7. Stargaze at Quetico Provincial Park
Designated as a Dark Sky Preserve, Quetico Provincial Park is a great getaway for those looking to take in the beauty of the night sky. The park is located west of Thunder Bay and, in addition to being an amazing stargazing destination, also offers 2,000 backcountry lakes for canoeing, towering cliffs, majestic waterfalls and a great family campground. If you’re really lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis.
Try a guided adventure that will have you exploring the rugged Lake Superior shoreline near Wawa by sea kayak. Stay overnight at the Rock Island Lodge, located on a seven-acre peninsula of boreal forest, pre-Cambrian greenstone and fine gravel beaches. From your homebase, you’ll have exceptional access to Lake Superior and the Michipicoten River. A guided daytrip out on a sea kayak will give you an up-close-and-personal look at the unique features of this stunning area.
One of the most stunning national parks in Canada, Pukaskwa is a great destination for a Northern Ontario camping trip. The park offers lots to do in the wilderness, from hiking and swimming to fishing and canoeing. A must-do while staying here is the White River Suspension Bridge Trail: an 18-km hike that showcases many of the parks pristine eco-regions and leads to the namesake suspension bridge that sits 23 metres above the powerful Chigamiwinigum Falls. You can reserve backcountry spots or oTentik sites but frontcountry camping spots are first-come-first-serve.
10. Picnic at Kakabeka Falls
If you’re in the Thunder Bay area, a visit to the “Niagara of the North” is a must. Located just 30 minutes from Thunder Bay, Kakabeka Falls is the province’s second tallest waterfall. The Kaministiquia River plunges 40 metres over the rocky terrain to create a thundering falls that is beautiful in every season. The falls is surrounded by wilderness, with some wonderful areas to sit and enjoy a picnic. There are excellent views of the falls and the gorge from the boardwalk trail that wraps around the top, but other hiking trails are also available throughout the park.
This post was originally published on February 28, but updated on July 29, 2022.