Hardy Lake Provincial Park Trails provide hiking access to the beautiful shores of both Hardy Lake and Lake Muskoka. Characteristic of the lake-studded Precambrian rock landscapes of the Muskoka region, both Hardy Lake and Lake Muskoka are two of the most picturesque, rugged shorelines. Originally settled in the 1870’s by homesteaders, the Park now supports exceptional life science values. Homesteading was not viable and subsequently it was used as a private recreation property. It was acquired in 1980 and has been designated a natural environment park. The base rock of the park is of late Precambrian age. The barren rock ridges were possibly wave-washed by glacial lakes Algonquin and Nipissing and the topography is attributed to the last ice age. The eastern half has barren rock ridges and swampy depressions while the western portion is an expanse of deep ground moraine.
The five lined skink, Ontario’s only lizard, is found here along with the occasional Massassauga Rattler. Forest types include the common trees of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Forest Region such as sugar maple, hemlock, beech and white oak. The forest is home to many of the white tail deer, moose and bear in the area. In the wetter areas of the park, there are also rare aquatic plants normally found along the Atlantic coastal plain of eastern North America.
The trails consist of two loops around the lake (a short loop of 3 km and one of 8 km). Access to Lake Muskoka can be made from two points along the northern portion of the trail. The inland trail of 7 km winds through the forests, up and down hills and accesses many of the interior wetlands of the park. This trail crosses an inlet of Lake Muskoka and continues along the shore of the lake then loops back.
To Get There: The trail system is accessed from the parking lot off Muskoka Road # 169, one kilometer west from Walker’s Point Road.
The historic Hazlewood Trail once linked Port Carling to Port Sandfield. The trail is named after the Hazlewoods, a pioneer family who settled on Lake Rosseau. The Hazlewoods took this trail to Port Carling. The trail includes some moderate to steep climbs through mature hardwood forest. Towards the end of the route, the trail runs beside a large beaver pond, well known for its bird life.
To Get There: Take Muskoka Road # 118 to Port Carling. Take Hazlewood Road to the parking lot at the end of the road.
Huckleberry Rock has been well known locally for over 100 years as a magnificent scenic lookout. Rocks on this trail are some of the oldest in the world, well over a billion years old. The effects of glaciation, timber harvesting, erosion and fire have removed the thin mantle of soil, exposing the surface of the pink granite rock. The dry conditions allow lichens and mosses to become established. Trapped soil particles allow grasses, juniper and white pine to germinate and survive. The trail surrounds a bowl-shaped area that holds water and has allowed a bog to develop that supports a black spruce ecosystem. Runoff after a rain has created the small intermittent stream found just to the north of the Lookout. In 1962 the rock cut for Highway 118 highlighted the rock to the travelling public. Recently, donations of land from neighboring landowners have helped to create a 120-acre Township park that allows public access to enjoy the views from the Lookout.
To Get There: Between Bracebridge and 6 km south of Port Carling, off Muskoka Road #118 go to Milford Bay Road. Park at the new parking lot near the restaurant.
On this former hatchery property trout fingerlings were raised for release in local streams. The Ministry of Natural Resources closed the hatchery in 1991, as production was concentrated in newer hatcheries throughout the province. The trail winds past the hatchery ponds, which have now been naturalized and along the river, which flows from Skeleton Lake. The trail passes by several habitats: meadows, deciduous forests, flood plain forests, river shorelines and wetlands. Skeleton Lake Trail also includes views of small waterfalls and rapids. Interpretive signs offer information and illustrations on different habitats, flora and fauna of the area, with advice on conservation techniques that individuals can use to preserve the natural heritage of Muskoka.
To Get There: Take District Road 4 north of Bracebridge onto Hwy #141 and then to Hatchery Road. Turn at the Watt Public School 1.3 km to the trail.
The Raymond Trail follows the historic colonization route from the old Parry Sound Road to Skeleton Lake. The trail, with moderate hills, passes through field and forest. In places, you can still see the logs of the corduroy road, laid down to help settlers over the boggy sections. The trail wanders through dense hemlock stands that are a favourite habitat of deer, especially during the winter, and through hardwoods that are brilliant during the autumn. Skeleton Lake is believed to be the result of a meteorite striking the earth eons ago.
The route bypasses a large gravel pit and an abandoned hunt camp, ending at Skeleton Lake Road 2.
At this point you have a choice of returning the way you came or travelling a similar distance along Skeleton Lake Road 2 to Highway 141 and back to the starting point. Alternatively, you can turn right, where a short walk takes you down the hill to the public wharf on Skeleton Lake.
To Get There: Take District Road 4 north of Bracebridge on- to Hwy #141 and thence to Skeleton Lake Road #1, one half kilometer past the Raymond Store. Park at the end of the gravel portion careful not to block to road. From this parking spot the trail is 2 km one way, 4 km round trip.
Encompassing 1,990 hectares (5,000 acres), the Torrance Barrens Conservation Reserve is one of the most striking geological areas in Muskoka. The lunar landscape of the Torrance Barrens is characterized by low ridges of Precambrian bedrock, separated by wetland and peat-filled hollows. The barren landscape contains scattered boulders and little soil. The prevalence of bare bedrock is a direct result of wave washing of glacial lakes Algonquin and Nipissing. The nationally rare Eastern Bluebird, and Cooper’s Hawk can be spotted from the Barrens, along with diverse vegetative species. Ontario’s only lizard, the five-lined skink can also be spotted here. The Barrens is also an ideal place to view the night skies. Amateur astronomers have identified the Barrens as an ideal place to view the night skies with little light infiltration from urban centres.
To Get There: Take Muskoka Road 169 north from Gravenhurst or south from Bala. Turn south on Southwood Road (Muskoka Road 13) and travel 7 kilometers to the Torrance Barrens sign. Park on the flat rock. The trail is marked with stone cairns, white marks on rocks and metal signs.