If you love Muskoka but are looking for somewhere new to explore in Ontario, why not try these great trails in the Almaguin Highlands?
Where is the Almaguin Highlands?
Just north of Muskoka, but less touristy and just as gorgeous, you’ll find the Almaguin Highlands.
Covering approximately 8000 square kilometres (3000 square miles), the region stretches north from the District of Muskoka to the southern edge of North Bay.
Encompassing many small communities along the Hwy 11 corridor, including Novar, Emsdale, Burk’s Falls, Sundridge, South River, Powassan and Callander, there are plenty of amazing opportunities to get outside and explore this underrated area of Ontario.
The eastern part of the Almaguin Highlands borders on Algonquin Park, which is the largest and oldest provincial park in Ontario. There are several access points in to the back country area of Algonquin Park, where camping and canoeing is popular, but there are no marked hiking trails.
>>Fun fact: As you drive along Hwy 11 and reach the town of Novar, you enter the Almaguin Highlands and are officially in Northern Ontario!
The Trails in the Almaguin Highlands
Passing through the Almaguin Highlands region is the impressive Park to Park trail – with 230km of trail joining Algonquin Provincial Park to Killbear Provincial Park on Georgian Bay. This trail is best used by ATV’s, bikes or on horseback.
It is possible to hike this trail, but it is a LONG trail and I wouldn’t suggest attempting it with kids!
But there are some short, interesting trails in the Almaguin Highlands that are perfect for kids.
If you’re planning a visit to the area, be sure to check out these short hikes that are great for kids!
Shorter, Kid-friendly Trails in the Almaguin Highlands
Heritage River Walk – Burk’s Falls, ON
The village of Burk’s Falls lies along Hwy 11, just under 3 hours north of Toronto. Although the name suggests it, there is no waterfall in the village, but the Magnetewan River flows through the town.
The Heritage River Walk is a short and easy but gorgeous trail, winding along the Magnetewan River and providing some fantastic views of the river.
Beginning at the Welcome Centre, just off of Hwy 520, the trail crosses a covered footbridge before continuing along the river.
There are several side trails, venturing a short distance off the main trail, with many circling back to the main trail at a farther point.
The trail is easy, although sometimes narrow, and is great to walk with young kids.
Screaming Heads – Burk’s Falls, ON
While this isn’t technically a trail, I’m adding it to anyways because there are a few small trails and plenty of space to wander around on the large property.
The Screaming Heads is an outdoor art installation on the artist’s large property, which is located between Burk’s Falls and the town of Magnetewan.
If you’re hiking the Heritage River Walk (mentioned above) or the Magnetewan Dam Trail (see below), Screaming Heads is on the way and worth a stop!
It’s a unique place to visit and while not technically a trail, there’s plenty of walking involved! Read more about the Screaming Heads here.
Cornelia Levering Broadmeadows Trail – Magnetewan, ON
The town of Magnetewan is located on the beautiful Magnetewan River, just a few kilometres west of Burk’s Falls along Hwy 520.
Located at the Ahmic Lake Golf Club, the Cornelia Levering Broadmeadows trail is a loop (although the trail ends shortly before the start of the loop, you can continue back to the start by following the Ahmic Lake Golf Club Road).
Passing through forests of maple and pine, this trail is a flat, easy hike!
Dam Trail – Magnetewan, ON
The Dam trail begins with a footpath that crosses the Locks over the Magnetewan River and leads to a small island chain.
The trail continues through the island chain, passing by several dams and providing some great views of Lake Cecebe and Ahmic Lake. It’s an easy, scenic trail!
Ebertson School Trail – Kearney ON
Distance: 1.5km (Stone Fence Trail additional 1.5km, Bare Rock Trail 3.3km)
Known as “the Biggest Little Town” in Ontario, Kearney is a popular spot all year round. About 10 km east of Hwy 11, Kearney sits at the western edge of Algonquin Provincial Park, and is the access point for Rain Lake and Tim Lake.
The Ebertson School Trail is found on Hwy 518, just past the town of Kearney.
It’s a popular trail for atv’s, but is also great to hike. It’s a wider trail than others listed here and passes old farming communities from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
At the midpoint of the trail, you can see the foundation of the original Ebertson School. There are some rocky sections, as the trail passes through forest and crosses several streams but it’s still a fairly easy hike.
It’s possible to link up with Stone Fence Trail and Bare Rock Trail to make for a longer hike.
Animosh Trail – Kearney, ON
Named after the Ojibway word for ‘dog’, the Animosh Trail is used by mushers during the annual Kearney Dog Sled Races in February.
Great for hiking anytime of the year (or snowshoeing and cross country skiing in the winter), the trail is an easy walk through a wooded area and can be combined with White’s Farm Trail (see below).
White’s Farm Trail – Kearney, ON
Beginning at Main St in Kearney (just opposite the Lions Park), White’s Farm trail winds alongside a wetland area through what used to be farm land until the 1960’s.
The trail continues through fields and forests and is relatively flat, making it a great hike for kids.
The trail is a looped trail but about the halfway point, you can connect to Animosh Trail, which adds a further 1.0km (2.0km return) to your hike.
Brooks Falls – Emsdale, ON
Not to be confused with the town of Burk’s Falls mentioned above, this trail DOES lead to a waterfall!
It’s an easy, mostly flat trail that leads to the Magnetewan River and Brooks waterfall. It’s a gorgeous spot for picnics or to see the leaves in the fall.
While we haven’t tried it (yet), it is possible to wade into the river downstream and cool off in the summer!
Sprucedale Recreational Trail – Sprucedale, ON
Starting from behind the municipal office in Sprucedale, this trail begins on a boardwalk that crosses a beaver pond and then heads into the forest where you’ll loop around past marshes and what’s known as the “talking rock”.
Keep an eye out for moose, deer and beavers!
Maple Canyon Trail – Mikisew Provincial Park
*This trail is located in Mikisew Provincial Park and requires a day use fee to enter the park
If you are camping at Mikisew Provinicial Park, or just visiting for the day, this is a great trail to hike!
Beginning close to the lake, the Maple Canyon trail passes through forest and alongside wetlands, before looping back and returning to the beginning. You can also combine this trail with the Beaver Meadow Trail (see below) for a longer hike.
It’s an easy trail, great for everyone in the family.
Beaver Meadow Trail – Mikisew Provincial Park
Beaver Meadow Trail can be accessed from Maple Canyon Trail or completed separately.
The trail loops around a beautiful beaver wetland and is great to hike with kids.
Pick up a detailed trail guide from the park office, which has a map with numbered stops and info about each stop. **There’s also a free kids activity book!
As the trail name suggests, keep an eye out for beavers, but also muskrats and otters.
I hope you enjoy these trails in the Almaguin Highlands! I’m a little biased, but I think it’s one of the best areas in Ontario and these trails are a great way to get out and see the area!