TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN NORTHERN ONTARIO

Explore Canada’s oldest provincial park, see the colorful northern lights, and more with our top 10 things to do in Northern Ontario. (Full story: http://on.natgeo.com/1mNsL27)
  1. ‘Put in’ at Storied Canoe Lake
    Paddle through this lore-filled portal into the myriad waterways of Algonquin—Canada’s oldest provincial park. Located three hours northeast of Toronto, Algonquin's nature reserve is bigger than the state of Delaware. Several Canadian prime ministers, including Justin Trudeau and his father, Pierre, whiled away childhood summers on these waters. But it’s Canuck art legend Tom Thomson who dominates local lore. (Photo by HuntImages/Getty Images)
  2. Experience Classic Cottage Living in Muskoka
    Head two hours north of Toronto to experience the beloved pairing of freshwater and gracious Victorian-era cottages like generations of Ontarians have done. Explore rugged granite outcrops and fir trees of the Canadian Shield along the shores of Lake Muskoka, Lake Rosseau, Lake Joseph, and surrounding smaller lakes.
  3. Go on a Train-In Fishing Expedition
    Canada was built on the reach of railways and waterways that carried voyageurs, pioneers, and entrepreneurs across its vast wilderness. Experience the heritage of both on an epic train-in fishing expedition to the remote shores of Northern Ontario’s Algoma Country.
  4. Hike or Run White Water Amid the Grandeur of Lake Superior
    Perhaps the most aptly named of the Great Lakes, Superior—known as Gitche Gumee or “big water” to the Chippewa First Nations people—is the largest freshwater lake in the world. With ocean-like force, it holds one-eighth of the world’s freshwater within its ancient Precambrian rock basin on the southern edge of the Canadian Shield.
  5. Embrace Winter Wilderness
    Rent a private log cabin, complete with guide and cook, on a secluded lake tucked in the northwestern corner of Algonquin Park—home base amid a winter wonderland. In crisp, clear day, snowshoe out to a warm meal in a heated prospector tent. Make first tracks cross-country skiing over a snow-covered lake. Try your hand mushing a team of sled dogs. Hook a big one ice fishing or play shinny—an informal game of hockey—by torchlight as night settles in.
  6. Ride the "Polar Bear Express" to the Northern Lights
    September and October are prime time for catching the drama of both fall colors and the aurora borealis—the northern lights—the colorful intersection of gaseous particles in our atmosphere and charged particles released from the sun. To radically boost odds of a big show, take the "Polar Bear Express" from Cochrane to Moosonee into the arctic watershed toward James Bay, a key 17th-century fur-trade post and British settlement gateway.
  7. Fish and Explore on the French River
    Northern Ontario is a lacework of lakes and rivers in a region that’s home to 20 percent of the world’s freshwater. No surprise: Fishing is big here, and the tradition of escaping to remote sporting lodges to indulge in the “drug of the tug” reaches back over a century. The Lodge at Pine Cove on the French River has welcomed guests of all ages since 1935—many drawn to snagging one of the 40 thriving fish species in the river region by day and luxuriating in wilderness comforts on land by night.
  8. Treasure Hunt the Riches of Sudbury and Surrounds
    Hit the road on a geocache treasure hunt with the kids to learn about the people, places, and precious metals that shaped many Northern Ontario towns.
  9. Ride the Great Spirit Circle Trail on Manitoulin Island
    Manitoulin blends thriving First Nations culture dating back to prehistory with early European settler roots, 21st-century small-town Ontario life, and pristine wild places. Mount up to explore Manitoulin’s Great Spirit Circle Trail. Learn to ride bareback and swim with your horse. Chow down around the campfire. Commune with your inner journey on a medicine walk. Join the oral tradition of storytelling and relax to the beat of your guide’s drumming, the pulsing heart of any authentic powwow.
  10. Trip Through Temagami Like Legendary Grey Owl
    Land in Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park via floatplane from North Bay to walk in the moccasins of Northern Ontario’s most famous conservationist, Grey Owl, played by Peirce Brosnan in the 1999 biopic of the same name. Deep in this Temagami backcountry, let your trip outfitters show you why Grey Owl convinced kings, queens, and prime ministers to preserve such northern wilderness early in the 20th century.