Stroll Ontario’s scenic boardwalk trails
Boardwalks protect significant landscapes by guiding hikers through sensitive ecosystems in parks, conservation areas and at beaches. In Ontario’s towns and cities, boardwalks allow visitors and locals to access waterfronts and participate in the timeless activity of promenading.
Here are 13 beautiful boardwalk trails in a variety of settings that invite you to enjoy a walk.
Following alongside the St. Mary’s River, the Sault Ste. Marie Waterfront Walkway stretches over two and half kilometres between Canal Drive and the Art Gallery of Algoma in downtown Sault Ste. Marie. Watch marine traffic navigate locks along the river and take in views of the International Bridge, Whitefish Island and even the US shoreline in Michigan State.
The boardwalk features benches, picnic tables and lookout platforms and is connected to the longer multi-use Hub Trail that circles the city, as well as several attractions like Roberta Bondar Park, Ermatinger-Clergue Historic Site and the Canadian Bushplane Museum.
Useful info: Meter parking is available downtown or in the Station Mall parking lot at 293 Bay Street.
Bell Park is a large and scenic waterfront oasis in downtown Sudbury. This popular spot features beaches, gazebos, a playground, an amphitheatre and seasonal events and amenities.
Stroll along the two-kilometre boardwalk that hugs the shoreline of Ramsey Lake from Science North to the Bell Park Flower Garden, just a few minutes away from the Art Gallery of Sudbury. The gallery, incidentally, is housed in the former residence of a local lumber baron, William J. Bell, after whom the park was named. During the summer and autumn months, enjoy a picnic or peruse the Sudbury Market.
Location: Paris Street, Sudbury
Useful info: Free parking is available at lots located at 506 Elizabeth Street and 100 Ramsey Lake Road, or consider taking transit using the GOVA bus service, Route 1 Main Line.
Over three kilometres of walkway extends along the edge of Lake Nipissing in downtown North Bay with excellent views over the water. You may even spot the five mysterious Manitou Islands.
Features along the popular stretch include plants, trees and ornamental grass in the arboretum, a playground and heritage mini-train and carousel for kids to play on, picnic shelters and the famous Chief Commanda II home dock. The paved surface makes the path accessible for wheelchairs and strollers.
Location: Memorial Drive, North Bay
Useful info: Parking is available at Lakefront View along Memorial Drive.
Muskoka and Central Ontario
With water on both sides, the 500-metre floating boardwalk section of Hunter’s Bay Trail is stunning in every season, especially in fall when the trees are at peak colour. The full, multi-use trail extends almost five kilometres through the community of Huntsville in Muskoka and is part of the Trans Canada Trail. It follows the south banks of the Muskoka River waterway between Lake Vernon and Fairy Lake past Avery Beach Park and Orchard Park with beautiful scenery the whole way.
Useful info: A parking lot is located at the Centre Street trailhead.
Hardy Lake is located off Highway 169, just east of the town of Torrance and west of Gravenhurst on a portion of Lake Muskoka. Although relatively small, the park is ecologically and geologically significant as it is home to Atlantic coastal plant species, remnants from glacial activity, as well as an inland section of displaced Georgian Bay shoreline.
One of several hiking trails, the eight-kilometre Hardy Lake Loop Trail circles Hardy Lake through forests and across wetlands and features stretches of boardwalk so beautiful you’ll want to stop and photograph.
Location: Highway 169, Torrance
Useful info: As a non-operating park, there are no facilities provided although parking is available.
Part of the popular Bruce Peninsula National Park, Singing Sands is a beach attraction on Lake Huron, west of Highway 6 and about 10 kilometres south of Tobermory. The beach leads to inviting shallow waters and is surrounded by rare sand dunes and unique plant life, including orchids. The Interpretive Trail winds through forest and along the sand dunes and features a stretch of boardwalk. Consider visiting during the week or in the spring or fall as this location gets busy in the summer.
Bonus boardwalks! Cyprus Lake Trail within the park also features a wooden boardwalk section. And in the town of Tobermory a scenic boardwalk connects Little Tub Harbour to the Bruce Trail terminus cairn via Bay Street.
Location: Dorcas Bay Road, Tobermory
Useful info: Day-use and parking fees apply; limited parking is available on a first-come-first-serve basis.
One of Niagara Parks’ most exciting attractions, this 400-metre walkway hugs the edge of the raging Class 6 white water rapids section of the Niagara River at the base of the world-famous Niagara Falls. To reach the boardwalk, visitors ride an elevator approximately 70 metres down into the Niagara Gorge and pass through a short tunnel.
Location: 4330 River Road, Niagara Falls
Useful info: Operates seasonally from April to mid-November; tickets cost $17 per person ages 13 and up, $11.25 for kids ages 6 to 12 and free for kids 5 and under.
The eastern boardwalk extends three and a half kilometres along the sandy shoreline of Lake Ontario in Toronto’s east end Beaches neighbourhood. It runs parallel to the mixed-use Martin Goodman Trail and features benches facing the lake, gardens, public facilities and seasonal refreshment stands along the way.
You’ll want to linger on the beach, enjoy people-watching and take in the scenic lake views as you stroll this pretty pathway. The relaxed, beachy vibe extends through the neighbourhood to the shops, cafes and restaurants along Queen Street East.
Location: The boardwalk stretches between Balmy Beach Park and Ashbridges Bay Park, west of Woodbine, downtown Toronto
Useful info: In addition to some free street parking, limited parking is available at Balmy Beach Lot and a number of paid lots are available at the bottom of Woodbine Avenue; consider taking transit (the 501 Queen Street streetcar or Woodbine 92 and Main 64 bus routes are a convenient way to get to the beach boardwalk).
Approximately 18 kilometres east of Ottawa’s downtown, Mer Bleue Conservation Area covers approximately 3,500 hectares of significant northern boreal landscape that’s home to a diverse and ancient ecosystem of flora and fauna. Follow the Interpretive Boardwalk Trail through the forest, keeping an eye out for turtles, herons and other wildlife.
Location: Ridge Road, Ottawa
Useful info: Free parking and public washrooms are available; dogs are not permitted on the trail.
Point Pelee covers the narrow peninsula jutting out into Lake Erie just south of Leamington in Southwestern Ontario and is Canada’s most ecologically diverse national park. The park consists of marshland, forest and sandy beaches with well-maintained hiking, paddling and cycling trails. The one-kilometre boardwalk trail loops through the inland marsh with lookout spots and telescopes to view birds and other wildlife.
Location: 1118 Point Pelee Drive, Leamington
Useful info: Admission fees and operating hours apply; parking is available at the entrance and facilities include a visitor centre and washrooms.
Overlooking the north shore of Lake Ontario in Northumberland County, Presqu’ile is an operating provincial park with numerous camping sites, a sandy beach, seasonal visitor centres, a heritage lighthouse and several hiking trails.
The 1.2-kilometre Marsh Trail includes a section of boardwalk that leads out over protected marshland and meadow, a popular spot for hundreds of different migrating bird species each spring and fall. Take in a panoramic view from one of two lookout towers and learn about the marsh and its inhabitants from interpretive signage.
Location: 328 Presqu’ile Parkway, Brighton
Useful info: The park is open year-round; get your daily vehicle permit well in advance to guarantee access. If you’re looking to camp, reserve a site online early, to avoid disappointment.
Perched on the shores of Lake Ontario, the town of Burlington has an inviting and beautiful waterfront core that features a popular promenade path along Spencer Smith Park that leads to Brant Street Pier. Enjoy seasonal gardens, playgrounds, picnics and easy access to the Art Gallery of Burlington, the Burlington Performing Arts Centre and other key downtown attractions.
This walkway is part of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail, an extensive trail system that reaches over 3,600 kilometres connecting over 150 communities along the Great Lakes shoreline.
Location: 1400 Lakeshore Road, Burlington
Useful info: Meter parking is available at the Spencer Smith parking lot.
Uniquely situated within the city limits of one of southern Ontario’s largest cities, this park is home to ecologically significant wetlands. Notably, it’s one of the most southern floating acidic peat bogs with boreal plant life in Canada. The single-track trail includes portions of beautiful wooden boardwalk that lead out to Redmond’s Pond and feature interpretive signage. Look out for birds and other wildlife along the way.
Location: 1210 Oxford Street West, London, between Hyde Park Road and Oxford Street
Useful info: Parking is available at the Oxford Street entrance.
This is only a sample of beautiful boardwalks to visit. Get a comprehensive list of diverse boardwalk trails in Ontario.
Last updated: August 22, 2023