Hardy Lake boardwalk trail in Muskoka

Boardwalk empire: Stunning trail in Muskoka is the spot for gorgeous scenic views

Hardy Lake Provincial Park in Muskoka is renowned for its picturesque walkways and scenic footpaths along hiking trails, making it the perfect location for a brisque walk or to capture some viral social media pics of Muskoka’s natural beauty.

The 8.9-kilometre loop trail is located near Torrance, Ontario, just off Highway 169, and is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from downtown Toronto. The trail route is moderately challenging (albeit peaceful) and will take most people about 2 h 20 min to complete (it could take up to 3 hours for novices). The route circles the lake, providing magnificent views of the untouched shoreline.

 

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There are some nice swimming spots to enjoy along the way and the two bridges at the halfway point offer great opportunities for views and Insta-worthy photos.

The trail is well-marked and easy to follow, but portions of the trail are swampy and muddy, so wearing waterproof footwear is recommended.

The more adventurous can also attempt the 7-kilometre challenging trail on the southeast side of the park, navigating through the forest, thick bushes, and wetlands to the shore of Lake Muskoka, taking in the awesome views of the lake. For a slightly ‘easier’ route, novices can attempt the Hardy Lake 3.2-km Short Loop, trekking through rocky outcrops, natural shorelines, and forested areas. This route is considered slightly ‘easier’ in that it takes about 45 minutes to complete, but there are still some steep ascents and declines.

The trails are open year-round, making the park a popular spot for birdwatching, hiking, and snowshoeing, so you’ll likely encounter other explorers while trekking. Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash. Keep in mind that this is a non-operating park—there are no facilities. Biking, motorized vehicles, and camping also aren’t permitted.

After exploring Hardy Lake Provincial Park, check out these other scenic boardwalk trails near Toronto this summer:

Valens Reservoir

This 3.7-km loop trail located near Hamilton is mostly a flat loop around the north section of the Reservoir. There are boardwalk sections, but some areas of the trail can be a bit muddy, so bring hiking boots. Overall, this is a peaceful walk around a serene lake. It’s generally considered easy and takes about 48 minutes to complete. This is a popular route for hiking, biking, and running, but trekkers can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of the day. The best times to visit this trail are July through October.

Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail

The 1.5-kilometre trail loop is located off Highway 60 in Algonquin Provincial Park, near Whitney, and takes about 27 minutes to complete. The well-maintained trail features downhill and uphill sections and will take you through woods and marshlands. The trail surface is mainly wooden boardwalk (without edge barriers) or gravel and is about 1 meter wide.

White Water Walk

Located in Niagara Falls (about 4 km north of the falls), trekkers get to stroll along this 305-metre boardwalk at the very edge of one of the world’s wildest stretches of whitewater. The walk is short but provides some of the best Insta shots in the area, allowing visitors to take in the crashing waves and enjoy an excellent view of the 410-million-year-old rock layers of the Niagara Gorge.

Swan Lake Trail

This 1.8-km loop trail near French River 13 in Markham is moderately challenging and will take about 25 minutes to complete. Be on the lookout for the Great Blue Heron, beaver, waterfowl, bitterns and other  birds, reptiles, amphibians, and carnivorous plants. The trail will take you through Grundy Lake’s only protected nature reserve with a floating bridge at the beginning of the route. It’s family-friendly, so make sure to take some group shots along the rocky landscapes. Some reviewers have suggested going counterclockwise along the route as the trail markers are easier to follow, but the loop should be easy to follow either way.

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