In a world filled with long concrete ribbons of roadways, busy intersections, blinking streetlights, and people’s chatter, the thought of stepping away from the noise and chaos even just for a few minutes is appealing. The wild places in Ontario’s Highlands are calling to those looking for a respite from the everyday.

Here in Ontario’s Highlands, we invite you to embark on a three-day journey that will take you deep into the wild places, the forested trails, the remote destinations that will quiet all of the busyness and external noise. Ask yourself: Isn’t it time you took a walk on the wild side in Ontario’s Highlands?

3-Day Wild Journey

When thinking about the wild places in Ontario’s Highlands, Haliburton Highlands comes to mind as the ideal destination. In a region filled with endless forests interspersed with winding roadways that seem to take you deeper and deeper into the wild, Haliburton offers outdoor experiences that invite you to take a walk on the wild side.

Start Here: Haliburton

An ice climbing expedition with Elements Guiding is the pinnacle of this first day on your itinerary. This will get you out into some of the most beautiful and remote areas of Ontario's Highlands, under the watchful and experienced eyes of expert climber, Lorne Foisy.

  • Truss Foodworks – Pick up a lunch to take with you on your outdoor immersion.
  • Abbey Gardens – Stock up on good for you foodstuffs needed for the rest of your itinerary (hint, you will be outdoors a lot, building up an appetite). Pro tip: Make sure there are marshmallows on your list. While you're here try out one of their winter trails.
  • County Coffee - This Haliburton Highlands roastery is located at Abbey Gardens, and will be a welcome addition to your morning camping routine.
  • Algonquin Outfitters – pick up any last-minute items you might need to spend time outdoors in comfort.
  • Elements Guiding – Book a six-hour instruction with Lorne Foisy who will introduce you to the basics (or intermediate skill building) for ice climbing. Ice wall locations vary, depending on weather.
Haliburton County
From Toronto: 215km • 2 hr 55 min From Ottawa: 285km • 3 hr 15 min

In addition to its' stunning scenery, Haliburton is home to a thriving arts community.  With plenty of galleries dotting the countryside, a must-visit is the renowned Haliburton Sculpture Forest, a unique outdoor collection of sculptures by Canadian and international artists.

Time Spent Here: Plan for a full day in Haliburton.

End Your Day: Silent Lake Provincial Park

After a day spent dangling from an ice wall you will be ready to relax around a bonfire and gaze up at the starry winter night sky. Make sure you leave your climbing spot early enough to drive to Silent Lake Provincial Park, where you will spend the night.

  • Get settled in your campsite, cabin or yurt and build a roaring bonfire. Now is the time to put those marshmallows to good use.
  • Gaze up at the stars while savouring a cup of hot chocolate.

If you think you are all “wilded out” we have news for you: The outdoor fun is just getting started.

Start Here: Silent Lake Provincial Park

After a night spent in a winter wonderland where the snow muffles the sounds and envelops you in a natural cocoon you will be well rested and ready to continue your journey.

  • Cardiff Country Store – Pick up something for breakfast from this quintessential country store only a 10-minute drive from the park. If you’re in luck they will have some fresh-baked bread waiting for you.
  • Bonnie’s Pond Trail – Take a snowy walk on this 3-kilometre loop that passes beneath mature trees and a phenomenal lookout across the lake.
  • Cross Country Skiing – Explore more than 30-kilometres of trails through the park, colour coded for ease of use.

Time Spent Here: Consider extending your stay with another night, otherwise plan on spending the morning or the full day exploring the park in winter.

Next Stop: Madoc

Make the drive from Silent Lake Provincial Park to Madoc via McGeachie Conservation Area. Stopping here will extend your drive a wee bit but will be worth it (promise).

  • McGeachie Conservation Area – Stop for a snowshoe hike or cross country ski at this off-the-beaten-path conservation area.
  • Hidden Goldmine Bakery – This is a must stop to stock up on home baked goodies for the night ahead. Be sure to pick up something sweet for tomorrow morning.
  • Rustic Roadside Restaurant – Pick up something home baked and delicious for dinner from this local favourite.
  • O'Hara Mill Homestead - Visit this slightly tame wild place and wander the seven walking trails that take you past a once working water mill.  Tip: the covered bridge makes a fantastic photo opp.
  • Enright Cattle Co. – Worth the short detour to Tweed to purchase a thick steak or two for the barbecue back at The Outpost.
Hastings County
From Toronto: 210km • 2 hr 30 min From Ottawa: 195km • 2 hr 20 min

A trip to Madoc isn't complete without a stop to the Hidden Goldmine Bakery for a delicious cinnamon roll or butter tart.  Get a flavour for Madoc's gold rush history at this quaint bakery nestled on the historic main street.

Time Spent Here: Take your time with a hike or to ensure you are well stocked up for the night ahead.

End Your Day: Cloyne

Make the 65-kilometre drive to Cruising Canoes’ The Outpost winter camping spot in Cloyne, where you will spend the night.  Unlike at Silent Lake Provincial Park, at The Outpost you will be “hot tenting” where you bring the cozy warmth of a fire right into the tent with you.

  • The Outpost – Hike to your winter camping tent and get yourself set up to stay cozy by lighting a fire in the indoor wood stove.
  • Build a bonfire and relax with a glass of wine from Potter Settlement Winery or a brew from 7/62 Craft Brewery (pick these up en route to The Outpost or from the local LCBO).
Lennox & Addington
From Toronto: 260km • 3 hr 5 min From Ottawa: 180km • 2 hr 10 min

Time Spent Here: Unwind under the stars before climbing into your sleeping bag and getting cozy for the night. Waken with the sun to a hot breakfast and savour every last minute outdoors.

Last stop for your wild adventure!

Start Here: Cloyne

Fresh air helps you to sleep hard and deep, and you will waken refreshed and ready for the day ahead. Pro tip: Make sure you packed enough coffee because nothing beats wrapping your hands around a cup of coffee in front of the fire to start your day.

  • Addison’s Restaurant – Make the 10-minute drive to Kaladar and pick up a breakfast to go. Their spicy sausage omelet will be hearty enough to keep you going all day long.
  • If you will be leaving the campsite today, start packing up after breakfast.
Lennox & Addington
From Toronto: 250km • 2 hr 50 min From Ottawa: 178km • 2 hr 8 min

Take a trip to visit the Lennox & Addington Dark Sky Viewing Area, the most southerly point in Ontario offering a night sky experience very similar to what it was 100+ years ago.

What's Next: End Your Trip

We hope you were able to see some new and untouched parts of Ontario's Highlands during your trip! If you are craving more wild fun, consider extending your visit at one of the locations listed above. Take a walk on the wild side in Ontario's Highlands.