Ontario is Canada’s largest province, and much of the land area is covered by beautiful deciduous forests. Throughout the forests of Northern, Central, and Southern Ontario are many provincial parks with canoe paddling routes and short or long portages in between. This pastime is the perfect way to explore Ontario’s nature. However, travelers who are not experienced in canoeing, camping, or portaging should consider booking a guided tour for their first time to maximize safety. Individuals with some wilderness knowledge and wild camping experience may feel confident enough to venture out onto these routes without a guide.

10 Canoe Lake To Big Trout Lake, Algonquin Park

Known as the Big Trout Canoe Loop, this portage route begins off Highway 60 at Canoe Lake in Ontario’s famous Algonquin Park. This backcountry canoeing adventure takes 5+ days to complete and requires travelers to camp at a different lake each night. Travelers who have extra time to build into their itinerary can consider spending multiple nights at one lake to rest and enjoy a day of swimming or sunbathing near their campsite.

9 Obabika Loop, Temagami

The Obabika Loop portage route covers 100 km in Temagami, a stunning forested region in Northern Ontario. The four portage sections of the route are fairly manageable, all less than 900 meters. The loop starts and finishes at Central Lake Temagami Access Road and takes approximately five days to complete. Depending on where travelers plan to camp along the route, it may be necessary to obtain permits from Ontario Parks before departure.

Related: Be One With Nature And Visit These Amazing Provincial Parks In Ontario

8 The Brent Run, Algonquin Park

The Brent Run is a more challenging canoe route in Algonquin Park with portage stretches that are physically demanding. The entrance to this route is access #27 on Cedar Lake. This is in the northern part of the park and takes anywhere from 2 to 4 days to complete. The route was first traveled in 1934 in just 32 hours, and some travelers attempt to finish this canoe journey in a mere 24 hours to beat that record. However, for a more laid-back and peaceful experience, a lot at least 48 hours for the trip.

7 Nellie Lake Loop, Killarney Provincial Park

The Nellie Lake Loop is a must-do canoe trip when visiting Killarney Provincial Park in Northern Ontario. The route takes travelers to Nellie Lake on a 2-3 day adventure. The lake has clear blue waters that are perfect for swimming and three different campsites at various points along the shore to stop overnight. The journey starts off Highway 6 at Widgawa Lodge near the town of Espanola. Although it’s a fairly short route, the portages are steep. This is a moderate to challenging portage trip because of the stamina required to complete the hiking sections.

6 Cassels Lake Loop, Temagami

Another Temagami adventure, this paddling route is just 30 km making it the perfect choice for a weekend getaway in Ontario’s wilderness. The route starts from the Temagami Outfitters Company store and requires travelers to portage 675 meters from their vehicle to the first paddling point at Snake Island Lake. There are two more short portages along the journey, but this route is still a great option for beginners.

Related: Ontario Is The Best Place For Yurt Camping, Start With These Provincial Parks

5 Smoothwater Lake To Scarecrow Lake, Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Park

This beautiful canoe trip begins on Crown Land and takes travelers to the highest elevation point in Ontario at Ishpatina Ridge. Starting from the Montreal River, visitors travel south on Lady Dufferin Lake into Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Park. Once travelers arrive at Scarecrow Lake, they can hike the 3.2 km trail to Ishpatina Ridge for unbelievable views and a glimpse of an old ranger cabin.

4 David Lake Loop, Killarney Provincial Park

The David Lake Loop in Killarney is a fairly easy portage adventure that takes just 2-3 days to complete. Travelers begin on Bell Lake at an access point from Highway 637. The route takes you through Bell Lake, Three Mile Lake, Balsam Lake, and back to David Lake. In total, there are four portages, but overall, the route is easy and suitable for beginners. If travelers have an extra day to add to the trip, they can incorporate the hike to Silver Peak from their campsite, a 3.5-hour hike with lots of elevation but worthwhile views.

3 Saugeen River Canoe Route, Southwestern Ontario

Travelers who are looking for portage options and canoe adventures near Tobermory and the Bruce Peninsula can consider the Saugeen River Canoe Route. The river is approximately 198 km long, and the official canoe route begins in Hanover at Access Point #3. There are four possible portages along the way, and most are fairly short. Campsites are available in Saugeen Bluffs Conservation Area and McBeath Conservation Area.

2 Mattawa River, Mattawa River Provincial Park

Taking travelers from North Bay to Mattawa, the Mattawa River canoe journey is 58 km. However, individuals can choose how much of the route they want to cover based on the access point they start from. There are various access points in Trout Creek and along the south shore of the river. Depending on the time of year and water levels, there can be anywhere from 9-14 portages along the route, but these are rated as easy to moderate.

1 Tim River To Longbow Lake, Algonquin Park

Algonquin Park is one of the most popular camping and canoeing destinations in Ontario, and it never fails to impress visitors with its wildlife. The Tim River canoe route is known for being a great location to spot moose and encounter beaver dams. The route to Longbow Lake is 32 km and takes anywhere from 2-3 days to complete. There are only two portages during the trip, making it a fairly easy option for beginners and novices.