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  • Writer's pictureKress

Top Hiking Spots in Muskoka

I’ve lived in Muskoka, Ontario my whole life. This small community is world-famous for its luxury lakeside cottages and high-end spas. One quick Google and you’ll be met with images of million-dollar properties right on the water. The Muskoka that the world sees and the Muskoka that I have lived are two very different things. I am a local wanderer who knows basically nothing of that luxury lifestyle. What I do know is the best places to do some adventuring. I have spent my fair share of time hiking in the area, and these are some of my absolute favourite trails I’ve done! There is no shortage of beauty here, and getting out on trail is one of my favourite ways to enjoy. These three trails are stunning in each season, and each offers something for every type of explorer. We’ve got waterfalls, lake views, rock cuts, and impressive forests!


Hardy Lake Loop

First on my list of must-do trails is the Hardy Lake Loop. Located in Torrance, Hardy Lake is technically a provincial park. It’s non-operating and is maintained by the township of Muskoka Lakes. I’ve done this 8km loop in every season, and it never ceases to amaze me. The loop travels around Hardy lake and through beautiful forests. The terrain can be challenging but so worth it. If 8km is a little too long for you, you can also do a shorter 3km one! There is so much to see here. The lake is stunning and blue, there are several boardwalks, and there are even the remains of a pioneer homestead. There truly is something for everybody on this trail! This trail may not be a “hidden gem” but it’s a one-stop-shop for showcasing the beauty that Muskoka has to offer.


QUICK TIPS FOR THIS TRAIL:

  • If you’re going on the weekend, get there early! The parking lot is small, and it gets busy!

  • Sturdy footwear is a must!

  • Puppy friendly but keep your pup on a leash!

  • There is one very iconic boardwalk that is perfect to grab a pic for the gram!

Really take some time to explore here! There are some fantastic local shops nearby to grab a bite to eat after your hike! Head over to Clearlake Brewery for a bite to eat and a brew for some more local fun!


Huckleberry

Next on my list is Huckleberry. This trail is in Milford Bay and is an iconic spot in the area. Like Hardy Lake, this is not a hidden gem by any means but it’s still well worth the hike for the views. Huckleberry Rock showcases some of the oldest rock in the world (over a billion years old!) and boasts stunning views of Lake Muskoka. The lookout has been well known for over 100 years, drawing people in time after time. The trail is technically a 2.5 km loop, but I find that the trail markers are few and far between once you make the trek up to the rock. At the parking lot, you will start in a lovely forest before emerging out to the rock face. Once you’re there, it’s really a place to explore rather than a trail to follow. The first climb is steep and mildly challenging, but the rest of the hike is relatively easy and great for all levels!


QUICK TIPS FOR THIS TRAIL:

  • It’s easy to get turned around and get lost. Be careful and pay attention to where you’re going.

  • Catch a sunset at the lookout! Huckleberry is renowned as one of the best places to see a sunset in Muskoka, and I can fully attest that it's breathtaking.

  • There is also access to a famous rock-cut, it takes some exploring to find it, but it’s worth it!

  • The parking lot is small but rarely full (unless it’s a holiday or supposed to be a beautiful sunset!)





Milford bay is a lovely little community! Not too far up the highway is Port Carling. Head there for lunch at Turtle Jacks or for some other local delights!


High Falls

Last but certainly not least, on my list is High Falls. This hike is located in Bracebridge and has picnic areas and a short hiking trail. Much like Huckleberry, I find that this is not so much a true trail as it is a spot for you to explore. There is a specific part of this trail that is a part of the Trans Canada Trail that goes all the way across Canada! The TCT touches all three oceans that border Canada and is the longest thru-hike in the world! There are multiple waterfalls to enjoy and, the woods are magical. There is something about them that seems enchanted, and as the seasons change the scenery gets more and more beautiful. There are massive rock faces, lush trees and, of course, impressive falls. This is truly one of my favourite places in the world to explore. I can’t describe how special this place is to me, so I’ll let the photos do most of the talking for me.


QUICK TIPS FOR THIS TRAIL:

  • It’s relatively easy and is great for any skill level!

  • Around peak fall, the area can get quite busy! Get there early to get parking.

  • The park is technically closed in the off-season (November to May) but, there is trail access through the Trans Canada Trail entrance. To reach this entrance go down Brodie Crescent and lookout for the trail marker!

  • There is a resort right across the river where you can swim and rent paddle boats to explore the falls from a different angle!


Muskoka has no shortage of places to explore! Some other noteworthy trails in the area are Dorset Lookout Tower, Wilson’s Falls, Limberlost Forest Reserve, Strawberry Point, Walker's Point Lookout, and Fish Hatchery. Maybe I’ll make hiking in Muskoka part 2?

If you end up visiting any of these spots, tag me in your photos on Instagram! @explorewithkress or #explorewithkress





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