+10 Best Simcoe County Hikes by a Local

Ontario is full of amazing trails, parks, and reserves to hike! With so many in my own backyard, I’m sharing the top hikes in Simcoe County. Spanning from Innisfil in the south and up to Barrie and over to Collingwood, Simcoe County is one of the largest in Ontario.

So, whether you’re looking for a short hike to get your dose of the outdoors or epic views, I’ve rounded up my favourites trails in Simcoe County. Along with popular hikes like the Trans Canada Trail, I’m sharing trails that are hidden gems, like in Grants Woods.

Lace up your hiking boots and get ready to enjoy some of the best places to hike in Simcoe County!

me hiking the Beaver Pond Trail boardwalk in Awenda Provincial Park
me hiking the Beaver Pond Trail boardwalk

5 Best Simcoe County Hikes

Awenda Provincial Park

Nestled along the shores of Georgian Bay, is the picturesque Awenda Provincial Park! Covering 2915 hectares just north of Midland, it’s one of the most popular provincial parks in Ontario parks for camping.

This park boasts a wealth of natural marvels and cultural treasures. Making it one of the best places to hike in Simcoe County.

Hikers are spoiled for choice with over 30 kilometers of trails. Popular ones include the scenic Beach Trail and the historic Wendat Trail.

Here’s the full list of trails:

  • Beach Trail – 4 km return
  • Beaver Pond Trail – 700m loop
  • Bluff Trail – 13 km loop
  • Nipissing Trail – 1 km return
  • Brûlé Trail – 4 km return
  • Robitaille Homestead Trail – 3 km return
  • Wendat Trail – 5 km loop

Of all the hiking trails in Awenda Provincial Park, my favourite is the Beaver Pond Trail. It features one of the best boardwalks in Ontario.

Winding through the forest, it’s the perfect trail for birdwatching, especially in the early mornings. Along with being scenic, it’s a short trail and takes around 25 minutes.

The park is open all year. There is no best time to hike in Awenda. Beat the heat in the summer with all of shady trails. In the spring, you’ll find peak bird watching on the trails. And in the fall, the varied forests put on a beautiful display of colours.

Nottawasaga Bluffs' Keyhole Trail in winter is one of the best Simcoe County hikes
hiking the Keyhole Side Trail in the snow at Nottawasaga Bluffs

Nottawasaga Bluffs Conservation Area

One of my favourite Simcoe County hikes is Nottawasaga Bluffs. I’ve hiked the Nottawasaga Bluffs Conservation Area in every season. All of which offer something unique.

In the fall, the views from the bluffs are spectacular to take in the fall colours. It’s just as magical in the winter, especially when hiking through the Keyhole Side Trail.

Nottawasaga Bluffs Conservation area is located 25 minutes south of Collingwood. The park sits along the Niagara Escarpment, making it full of caves, canyons, cliffs, and epic views.

The conservation area is home to a number of trails:

  • Bruce Trail
  • Keyhole Side Trail
  • Betty Carter Side Trail
  • Nottawasaga Bluffs Lookout Side Trail

Insider Tips: There is a small paid parking lot on 8861 Nottawasaga 15/16 Sideroad. It’s $10 + HST. If you are planning to hike in the winter, one of my top tips is to pack crampons for this park. The Keyhole Trail can get extremely icy.

the Homestead Trail in Scout Valley in the fall
the Homestead Trail in Scout Valley in the fall

Scout Valley

Living in Simcoe County for over 30 years, I’ve driven by Scout Valley countless times on my travels north and south on Highway 11. But I only discovered this gem a couple of years ago.

Scout Valley is one of the best places to hike in Simcoe County! I think it’s one of the best fall hikes near Barrie.

Located 20-minutes north of Barrie, Scout Valley is a naturalized park covering 230 acres. You can access the park via three different access points. These are found on Old Barrie Road, Line 15 North, and Forest Home.

Scout Valley has a varied terrain. Home to hardwood forests, there are plenty of hilly sections as well as flat areas along a small stream. There are three hiking trails, each 2 km and marked by different colours. I recommend checking out the trail map before you go.

Scout Valley trails are:

  • Sugarbush Trail (orange blazes)
  • Algonquin Trail (green blazes)
  • Homestead Trail (blue blazes)

I’ve hiked all of the trails, but my favourite is the Homestead Trail, especially in the fall. The best part is that even on a weekend during peak colours, I only ran into two other people. It’s such a hidden gem!

boardwalk trail at Wye Marsh
boardwalk trail at Wye Marsh

Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre

One of the best places to visit in Midland is the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre! And it’s one of my favourite places to visit in every season.

The Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre is a safe haven for wildlife and hot spot for birds. Its best known for their work to help save Trumpeter Swans.

Along with meeting swans, the Wye Marsh is home to over 25 kms of hiking trails. It’s a great place to hike all year round. In the spring you’ll spot migrating birds and in the summer, nesting osprey. Plus, in the winter they rent snowshoes.

You’ll find varying landscapes throughout the park. Along with a large marsh, it’s home to woodlands too. And it’s home to one of the best hiking trails in Simcoe County.

The Wye Marsh boardwalk trail stretches out through the marsh and overs awesome views. Every hike along it, I spot a variety of birds. You’ll spot everything from swans to osprey as well as a number of song birds.

Looking for similar trails? Check out this list of the best boardwalk trails in Ontario!

Tiny Marsh dike
trail running through Tiny Marsh

Tiny Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area

This so-called tiny marsh is massive. Tiny Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area is located just outside the small town of Elmvale.

Set over 600 hectares of protected marshland, Tiny Marsh is home to over 15 km of trails. These trails lead you over boardwalks, dikes and through forest. Plus, there’s a lookout tower too!

Tiny Marsh is home to around 250 species of birds, including rare species like the least bittern and the black tern. It’s also home to many turtle species which you can see remnants of their egg hatchlings across some of the paths.

It’s also one of the best free places to hike in Simcoe County! There are two main parking lots, each are free to park in.

Before you go, check out my list of the top Hiking Tips for Day Hikes

A forest of trees overhanging the Trans Canada Trail in Innisfil
Trans Canada Trail in Innisfil

More Great Places to Hike in Simcoe County

Trans Canada Trail (Thorton – Cookstown)

It doesn’t get any more Canadian than hiking the Trans Canada Trail! Hiking part of the Trans Canada Trail is one of my favourite places to hike in Innisfil.

The portion of the trail that I frequently hike is the Thorton to Cookstown section. It’s a short 10 minute drive from my house to the trailhead. I love walking it in every season, especially in the fall.

Running along an old railway line, the Trans Canada Trail stretches from coast to coast to coast. At 24,000 km, it’s a bucket list hike in Canada!

At 15.6 km one way, you can hike the Thornton to Cookstown trail in full. Or opt to hike sections of it. My favourite stretch is the one between Highway 89 and the 5th Sideroad, as its home to scenic bridges.

Plus, it’s one of the best free places to hike in Simcoe County. All of the parking lots along the trail are free to park in too!

Insider Tip: There are a number of parking lots at various locations along the Thorton to Cookstown Trans Canada Trail. If you are hiking with a friend, I recommend parking a car to the two opposite ends.

Me hiking in Springwater Provincial Park which is one of the best hikes in Simcoe County
Me hiking the Green Trail in Springwater Provincial Park

Springwater Provincial Park

The closest provincial park to Barrie is Springwater. Located off Highway 26, it’s a short 15-minute drive from downtown Barrie.

Springwater Provincial Park covers nearly 500 acres and is a day-use park. This means there’s no overnight camping available.

The is home to 12 km of hiking trails, many of which wind through dense forest. It’s also open year-round, making it a great spot to cross-county ski and snowshoe in the winter.

In addition to the park’s trails, the Ganaraska Trail passes through the park. This long-distance trail runs for 500 km between Port Hope and the Bruce Trail near Collingwood.

The main trails in Springwater Provincial Park are:

  • Red Trail – 5 km loop
  • Green Trail – 2.5 km loop
  • Blue Trail – 2.5 km
  • Purple Trail – 2 km

One of my favourite short hikes in Simcoe County is the Springwater Provincial Park Green Trail. It’s a 2.5 km loop that leads you through the forest and along a stream. Taking approximately 30 minutes.

For a longer hike, I recommend the Springwater Provincial Park Loop Trail, which is also known as the Red Trail. This loop is 5 km and takes about an hour to complete.

The Springwater Provincial Park Loop Trail is one of the best trails to spot wildlife. There’s everything from deer to fox. Plus, the park is also a hotspot in the area for birds like Cedar Waxwing, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and more.

Noisy River's Bruce Trail
the Bruce Trail running through Noisy River Provincial Park

Noisy River Provincial Park

Another great Simcoe County hike is through Noisy River Provincial Park. The park is located 15 minutes west Creemore. Hiking Noisy River is one of the best things to do in Creemore!

Noisy River Provincial Park is also situated along the Niagara Escarpment. Meaning its full of natural wonders like canyons and enchanted forests.

The main trail through Noisy River is the Bruce Trail. You can hike the Bruce Trail through forested landscapes, meadows, into canyons, and past a small peaceful lake.

Covering over 375 hectares you can easily spend hours hiking through this wild wonderland. But note that it is a through-hike and not a loop trail.

Discover more amazing Bruce Trail day hikes 

Trillium Trail in Grants Woods Nature Reserve that's lined with blooming white trillium flowers
Trillium Trail in Grants Woods

Grant’s Woods Nature Reserve

Located just outside Orillia, Grant’s Woods Nature Reserve is another one of the fantastic free places to hike in Simcoe County, especially in the spring! In the spring, the forests are one of the best places to find Trilliums in Ontario!

Grant’s Woods Nature Reserve is home to 4 kms of loop trails. You’ll find wonderful shaded trails, boardwalks and interpretive signs sharing information about some of the plant life in the park.

List of the 6 trails in Grant’s Woods:

  • Trillium 1.5 km
  • Fern 1.1 km
  • Hardwood 0.8 km
  • Hemlock 0.5 km
  • Three Sisters 0.3 km
  • Periwinkle 0.2 km
Views from the Simcoe County Forests in Midhurst
Views from the Simcoe County Forests trails in Midhurst

Simcoe County Forests

Throughout the area you’ll find an array of swatches of land deemed Simcoe County Forest. Within are some incredible trails of varying difficulty.

Some take you through tranquil tracts of forests while others have fun highlights like lookouts, rail crossings, and even mountain bike tracts.

If you’re looking for trails near Barrie, one of the best Simcoe County Forest trails is located behind the Simcoe County Administration Centre in Midhurst. It’s tagged Simcoe County Admin Forest on Google.

Plus, all Simcoe County Forests have at least a small parking lot and are free.

Insider Tip: If hiking the Simcoe County Forests’ track behind the Simcoe County Administration Centre in Midhurst in the winter, pack crampons. There is a very steep section that has a rope, but extra safety with crampons is ideal.

Copeland Forest

Located in Hillsdale, the Copeland Forest is a 4,400 acre reserve. The park is home to a variety of trails, water features, wildlife and is beautiful in the fall.

Click here to download the map.

Insider Tip: Please note when hunting season is in the park and dress and plan accordingly.

Simcoe County Loop Trail in Barrie
Simcoe County Loop Trail in Barrie

More Hiking Trails in Simcoe County

Midland Rotary Waterfront Trail – 8 km
Simcoe County Loop Trail – 160 km
North Simcoe Rail Trail – 30 km
Innisfil Beach Park Loop Trail – 1.5 km
Collingwood Waterfront Trail – 4 km
Georgian Trail – 33 km
Scanlon Creek Conservation Area Loop Trail – 3.5 km
Wasaga Beach Shore Lane Trail – 11.5 km
Tiffin Centre Loop Trail – 5 km

Check out these great Interactive maps and to discover more Simcoe County hikes!

In Conclusion

Discovering the best hikes in Simcoe County unveils a tapestry of natural beauty and diverse landscapes. From the rugged trails of Awenda Provincial Park to the serene paths of Copeland Forest, each hike offers a unique adventure. Lace up your boots and embark on a journey through Simcoe County’s stunning wilderness.

Looking for more trails to hike in Ontario?

Lesser-Known Ontario Trails without the Crowds

Best Hikes in Ontario with Awesome Views

Frequently Asked Questions about Hiking in Simcoe County

Where can I hike in Simcoe County?

A few of the top places to hike in Simcoe County are Awenda Provincial Park, Scout Valley, Nottawasaga Bluffs Conservation Area, and the Wye Marsh.

Where can I hike around Barrie?

In addition to the city trails in Barrie, other places to hike around Barrie include Springwater Provincial Park, the trails in Copeland Forest, and the Simcoe County Forests in Midhurst.

How long is the Ganaraska hiking trail?

The Ganaraska hiking trail is 500 kilometres long.

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Best Simcoe County Hikes

Stephanie

I'm a Canadian gal with a passion for travel, the great outdoors as well as coffee and books. I hope to inspire others to feel the same way! Traveling mostly solo, I love to explore my own backyard of Ontario as well as exotic cities around the world.

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