Hardy Lake Provincial Park: Hiking In Muskoka, Ontario

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Check Out Hardy Lake Provincial Park For A Nice Hike!

Oh, the Muskokas. The quintessential region in Ontario known to many as “cottage country” is always waiting to be discovered.

With great summer weather and loads of activities to get up to in the winter, there’s plenty of opportunities year-round to explore the trails and towns in the region.

If hiking is your thing, then we’d recommend Hardy Lake Provincial Park. We had the opportunity to explore the Hardy Lake trails in the fall and we absolutely loved the experience. It even made our list of great things to do in Ontario.

So, we wanted to write a little about visiting Hardy Lake so you know what to expect. You also get to see the nice photos!

If you are looking for other conservation areas, we will hike them as soon as we can and get our experience up on this site! We know there are some great ones in the area – like Bigwind, Six Mile Lake, or even Arrowhead.

That said, if you want to learn more about planning a visit to Hardy Lake read on!

How to Get To Hardy Lake

Navigation Address: Hwy 169, Torrance, Muskoka Lakes, Ontario, Canada

entrance sign to trails at end of forest with green trees behind.
An information sign in the parking lot – be sure to follow the rules!

Hardy Lake Provincial Park is a small conservation area just off of Highway 169. You can find it east of the small town of Torrance.

If you are heading north on Highway 11, you’d head through Gravenhurst on Highway 18 until you get to 169. If you are travelling this route, it will be on the right.

You’ll pull into the parking lot – which is free – but depending on the season it may be full. We ended up pulling off to the side of the road to park near the entrance. Many other cars also had to do this.

Need to Knows When Visiting Hardy Lake

sign with trail map and forest trees behind.
Here’s a trail map on the trails – you can follow the loops!

Before you plan your visit, there are a few things you should know about Hardy Lake Provincial Park:

Compared to other conservation areas in the region, Hardy Lake is pretty small. However, we still think it’s worth a visit. The trails surround Hardy Lake and even touch parts of Lake Muskoka.

The park is open in the summer for hiking and winter for snowshoeing – but during the day only. This is what is considered a day-use only Provincial Park – much like Forks of the Credit PP is.

As we mentioned, parking is free but the lot is quite small. On a busy, nice day you may find it full! So you know, there are no fires and no camping allowed.

But if you want to hop in the water, you can do so. The rocky shores make for great swimming spots and there are a few spots that are better than others.

As with any outdoor activities in this area, you will want to watch for ticks. Be sure to check yourself, your kids, and especially dogs when you return to the parking lot. Speaking of dogs, they are supposed to be on a leash!

The Trails at Hardy Lake Provincial Park

couple walking down forested dirt path.
The trails are varied – from the rocky shoreline to hard-packed dirt.

The trails at Hardy Lake are considered moderate to hard in difficulty. They honestly change quite frequently. One moment you are hiking hard-pack dirt and the next moment there are rocks and roots. It’s fun to hike around with very little overall elevation change.

As for loops, there are two smaller 3 km loops, a 7 km loop, and an 8 km loop that connects to a 1 km extension loop. All of these loops eventually lead back to the parking lot.

We ended up on one of the smaller 3 km loops that go closest to Hardy Lake and then cuts back.

The 8 km loop has a bridge which (for us) was on the other side of the lake. It was under construction when we visited but is likely completed now.

If you look at a trail map here, you see the various loops and how they relate to the position of the lake and the parking lot.

The Facilities at Hardy Lake

blue and green sign on tree in forest with lake behind.
It’s clear that there are no fires or camping at Hardy.

As for facilities at Hardy Lake, there are basically none. After the parking lot and main signage, there’s nothing on the trails. So, it’s a good idea to bring any water that you may need for your hike.

There are also no washrooms (at least none that we saw) so plan ahead for that. We have mixed information about there being a port-o-potty onsite so – again – just plan ahead as if there is none.

We also didn’t see any garbage cans along the way so bring your snacks in and out, please. It’s basically just a nice area to show up, hike about for some fresh air, and leave again before nightfall!

Our Verdict

muskoka pine tree standing over blue lake with rocky shoreline below.
You can’t beat the scenery at Hardy Lake.

So, should you visit Hardy Lake Provincial Park? We think so. The trails are nice and it’s a beautiful place to discover Muskoka nature.

That said, if you are looking for other activities and/or things to do with kids, you won’t find them at Hardy so maybe then consider another spot.

But if you are passing through the area (or already in the area exploring Gravenhurst, for example) then certainly stop through if you need to stretch your legs.

Oh but if you are in Gravenhurst be sure to check out Sawdust City Brewery. You can also find a place to stay in Muskoka if you don’t want to go home and want to adventure more in the region!

And there you have it – our experience at Hardy Lake Provincial Park. In the end, we had a great few hours hiking and we hope that you may, too.

It’s a great place to get out for some fresh air in one of the most beautiful parts of Ontario! Let us know what you think!

As always, Keep Exploring, eh?
– E&L

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Eric Wychopen is a Canadian content writer who loves to share his passion for Ontario. Originally from a small town in Simcoe County, he has almost 50 countries under his belt - but Ontario will always be home. Having travelled thousands of kilometres across the province for work and play, Eric has a wealth of knowledge about the province and is always looking for new experiences in Ontario.