Surrounded by dense forest, the wilderness is never more than 10 minutes away.
Perpetually underrated, North Bay delivers for outdoor enthusiasts and sun-seekers, with 43 beaches within city limits and a downtown bookended by two lakes. To the west, Nipissing is the third-largest lake in the province, with warm waters for swimming—North Bay’s waterfront includes a marina, a carousel, and Marathon Beach. On the other side of town, Trout Lake has hidden, family-friendly beaches with gentle waves. Add in a top-notch farmer’s market and all the waterfalls, hiking trails, sailing, fishing, and skiing opportunities just outside of town, and you’ve got a perfect adventure.
Surrounding Stormy Lake, this park has some of the best views in Northern Ontario. Hike to the top of the 100-metre Stormy Lake Bluff on the Fire Tower Trail, a moderate 4.1-kilometre loop across rocky ridges and boardwalks. Then, see that same view from below, paddling a canoe along its base. And bikers will love Angel’s Point Trail, which offers an inner loop for more advanced cyclists, and an outer, double track, for those simply looking to cruise.
Set in the Mattawa Valley, this is where some of the first Europeans to explore Canada would have passed through seeking furs to line their coats, paddling big Voyageur canoes down the river. You can do that, too—it’s a signature interpretive experience here. Plus, there’s plenty of hiking, biking, and swimming on the clear waters of Moore Lake.
Calm and placid, Eagle Lake is dotted with wooded islands—the perfect place to explore. Launch a boat or paddle a canoe, rolling through the channels in between. Then return to the park for some fun—Mikisew has three sandy beaches, plus basketball, volleyball, and even a disc golf course.
In Northern Ontario, spring arrives a little late, while fall comes a bit sooner than in the rest of the province. The hottest weather tends to stretch from the middle of June to the end of August, and sunlight follows the same pattern—in June, twilight can linger until well after 9pm, while autumn days shorten rapidly. Summer is by far the busiest time, so book your campsites well in advance, especially for weekends and national holidays. Spring is lovely but potentially buggy, and in fall, the forest becomes an artist’s palate of colour. Winter is cold, but hardy people will find plenty to do, from snowmobiling and skiing to snowshoeing and ice fishing.
- Don’t fear the shad flies—every year in early summer, millions of these peculiar bugs fly into town off Lake Nipissing. They’re harmless, but weird. - North Bay is about a four-hour’s drive north of Toronto, but this drive can double on summer weekends, when people head north to the Muskoka Lakes along this route. - While North Bay has all the modern conveniences you’d expect in a small city, things can get very remote very quickly once you leave town. Be prepared to lose cell phone signal and pack enough supplies, especially on overnight trips. - If you have a little extra time, visit The Hole, a former bunker sunk 200 metres below the Canadian Shield, built to withstand a major nuclear attack.