The "near north" cottage country
is Ontario's summer playground
The Muskoka Ontario region has long been one of the favoured destinations within the province for locals to spend their weekends and summer holidays. This is the definitive cottage country as the area is sprinkled with countless lakes, rivers and waterways.
Located about 160 kilometres (95 miles) or about 2 hours north of Toronto (traffic dependant), it makes for a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city into the serene calmness of nature.
If coming from Ottawa it is about 365 kilometres (225 miles) away or 5 hours driving time.
Central to it all is the Muskoka Lakes themselves of which Lake Muskoka, Lake Rosseau and Lake Joseph are the largest. Many other large lakes such as Lake of Bays are within the region and its southern boundary at Port Severn is also the termination point for the Trent-Severn Waterway, a National Historic Site who over its 386-kilometer (232 mile) course twists and turns through a multitude of lakes and rivers to link Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay.
The region is bounded in the east by the southeastern borders of the expansive Algonquin Provincial Park and in the west by Georgian Bay, one of Ontarios premier water playgrounds. One of the highlights along its coastline is the small, unique and beautiful Georgian Bay Islands National Park.
Quite small in size this northern section of the Central Ontario region is sparsely populated but during the summer months the number of people to be found in the area increases dramatically. The largest communities in the region are:
- Town of Huntsville, population 19,000
- Town of Bracebridge, population 15,500
- Township of Port Severn, population 12,500
- Town of Gravenhurst, population 12,000
Each of these serves as a main destination and supply depot for the huge numbers of seasonal cottagers who throng to the area annually. Each has its own attractions and distinctive charm to justifiably merit a visit. The region is especially beautiful in the autumn months when the fall colours of the Canadian Shield put on a brilliant display of the regions beauty on all its glory.
In addition to the shear natural beauty of the region there is an unlimited number of attractions and activities to partake including:
Map of the Muskoka region
Getting to the Muskoka Ontario region:
Two main highways run north to south through the region and which one you take depends upon your final destination.
Head north on Highway 400. Just past the city of Barrie you can either:
- Continue north on Highway 400/Highway #69 if you wish to travel along the Georgian Bay coast or travel further north.
- Take Highway #11 north if you wish to go to the heart of the Muskoka region and are traveling to Gravenhurst, Bracebridge or Huntsville.
Take Highway 417 north until it eventually turns into the Trans-Canada Highway #17. When you come to the Town of Renfrew take Highway #60 West right through Algonquin park into the Muskoka's region.
From Northern Ontario:
Take Either Highway #11 South or Highway # 69 South depending upon your starting point.
Air travel into the region is not an option.
By Public Transport:
Getting to the region by rail is a possibility and one that should be considered if a trip to the area is being planned as the Northlander Train services Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Huntsville.
for more information as to schedules and fares.
Regular bus service is available to most major destinations in the region. Visit www.ontarionorthland.ca
for more information
The Muskoka Ontario region is one of my favourite destinations in the province. For me, like most locals, this is the area that we call: the north. There is simply so many things to see and do it makes for a great year-round destination.
Countless crystal clear lakes make for some excellent swimming, canoeing and boating.
One great attraction is to be found in Gravenhurst where you can take a cruise on Lake Muskoka onboard North Americas oldest operating steamship.
The shores of Georgian Bay offer up some spectacular scenery.
A day trip to the Georgian Islands National Park, which is only accessible by boat, is a journey unto itself and one that should not be overlooked.
As this is one of the major tourist regions in the province there are numerous operators of tours and charters available. Whether you wish to rent a boat, cottage or canoe or book an offshore fishing excursion you will have no difficulty finding an operator to happily oblige. For many visitors, both local and international alike, this region is where they annually spend the bulk of their vacation time.
If this is your first trip to Ontario Canada I would think that the big 3 of Toronto, Niagara Falls and Ottawa would be at the top of your list but if you have an extended trip planned or are returning to Ontario and have seen most of the sights and attractions that those previously mentioned cities have to offer than I would seriously consider putting a 1 or 2 day excursion to the region on your itinerary.
For more information as to some of the sights and attractions available in the region please visit my pages listed below.
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