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THE MOST EPIC OUTDOOR ADVENTURES TO TAKE AROUND TORONTO

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Diana Ghidanac

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In Ontario, the great outdoors are synonymous with adventure. And as Canada’s second largest province, it definitely has a ton of outdoors to explore. So ditch the pavement and hit the trails or waterways — excitement awaits!

Think Blue Mountain is only a winter destination? Think again. It’s the best spot for mountain biking in Ontario thanks to its many downhill trails. In total, Blue offers 19 trails of varying difficulty levels, making it the largest mountain bike park in the province. Your trail pass includes unlimited rides up their open-air gondola, and rentals are available at the bottom if needed.

We know what you’re thinking, and it’s true: you’ll hardly ever get through an outdoor post about Southern Ontario without Algonquin being mentioned. But that’s totally justified — it does offer over 1,000 lakes for you to explore and close to 1,900 campsites, most of which are only accessible by water. So buy yourself a bucket hat and a pair of shoes with Gore-Tex because chances are good that you’ll be portaging a bit. Fitt Tip: need canoe rentals? Try Algonquin Outfitters, they have over 10 locations in cottage country, some of which are in the park itself.

Most people who want to pitch a tent in Ontario will head straight for Algonquin — and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But if you’re willing to drive a few hours farther north, you’ll reach Temagami, which many seasoned campers will tell you offers even more stunning scenery and pure wilderness than its southern counterpart. Temagami is so remote that some campsites west of Lady Evelyn River are close to 100 kilometres away from civilization! Meanwhile, if you’re looking for camping closer to the city, try either Sibbald Point or Mara Provincial Park on the shores of Lake Simcoe, only an hour north of Toronto.

Lake Huron might not have any coral reefs, but its reputation for nasty winter weather means it does have a ton of shipwrecks. And those make for great dive spots. Fathom Five National Marine Park, just off the shore of Tobermory, houses around 20 of them over 116 square kilometres. Go with Divers Den to see wrecks like the 19th century Philo Scoville and the Caroline Rose schooner.

Come on… did you really think we’d make a post about adventure without including skydiving? Check this adrenaline-fuelled activity off your bucket list north of the city with Skydive Wasaga Beach, which will send you barrelling towards the world’s longest freshwater beach at speeds of up to 200 kilometres per hour.

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Summer in Ontario only lasts a few short months, so most Ontarians have adapted by embracing the outdoors in winter as well. Make the most of the snowy season by packing the snowmobiles in the trailer and heading north to Haliburton Forest. With over 300 kilometres of groomed trails for you to explore, this is a true sledder’s paradise. What’s more: Haliburton limits the number of daily trail passes they issue to ensure you’ll rarely, if ever, encounter traffic jams. Fitt Tip: Haliburton Forest is too far away from the city to be a day trip, so stay over the night before your excursion in one of their fully winterized cabins. Book early, as they fill up quick!

Before the invention of snowmobiles, sleds had to rely on canine power. Turn back the clocks and try it for yourself with Wilderness Adventures, embarking from the South River in Algonquin Provincial Park. Whereas most other outfits only offer half- and full-day expeditions, Wilderness Adventures can take you on trips lasting anywhere from one to seven days through Ontario’s most famous Provincial Park. Worried about the cold? Don’t be. You’ll be sleeping in a heated tent with a campfire and hot meal not far away.

You don’t need to travel far from the city to experience some of the best fishing the province has to offer. Chinook salmon and rainbow trout are the most common types of fish to hook on Lake Ontario and both are known to put up a serious fight, so rest assured you’ll get a workout in if you get a bite! There are charters that leave right from Toronto, but we suggest heading a bit west of the city and hiring a boat and crew from Izzi Charters in Mississauga. Their half-day fishing excursions come with all the gear you’ll need for a memorable day on the water, and they’ll even clean and bag your catch for you to take home.

Ontario has a surprising amount of treetop trekking courses scattered around the province. The original spot is at Horseshoe Resort near Barrie, a short hour drive north of Toronto. Their five challenge courses have fun features like log bridges, swinging plank walkways, and mini zip lines. However, the big ticket is south. If you’re an adrenaline-junkie, make sure you add theSeceni Caves’ Thunderbird Twin Zip to your experience: stretching for half a mile along the Niagara Escarpment, it’s the longest twin zip line in Canada.

ATVing has become increasingly popular in Ontario in recent years, so why not see what all the fuss is about? Ontario does have thousands of dedicated ATV trails, after all. Some of the best can be found northeast of Toronto around the Kawartha Lakes. You’ll find a ton of variety here — trails range from straight, flat, reclaimed railway lines to ones that wind their way through old-growth forest.

We’re not suggesting you do the whole trail — it is 890 kilometres long, after all. But, take it a section at a time, and you’ll be traversing some of the most beautiful terrain Ontario has to offer. Plus, campsites and accommodations are scattered along the trail, and access points are common and well marked.

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