Hwy 17 Sign Graphic Scenic Highways of Ontario Title Graphic Hwy 35 Sign Graphic   

One of the greatest joys of driving in Ontario is to take in the scenery along rural back roads in our vast province. This page will introduce website users to some of the most scenic sections of road in Ontario. While the page is not overly detailed, it will still point out areas of Ontario that should be explored by those who have a keen interest in scenic roads. Many of the routes described herein are provincial King's Highways, but some may be county or township roads. This section currently lists four scenic routes to explore, but this section will be expanded in the coming months to include additional routes.

All roads described on this page are paved unless specifically noted otherwise. The roads are suitable for all regular passenger vehicles and therefore shouldn't prove to be overly challenging for most drivers. Happy motoring!
Scenic section of Hwy 17 north of
Montreal River Harbour, Lake Superior

   Hwy 17 Sign Graphic Hwy 17 Lake Superior Tour Title Graphic Hwy 17 Sign Graphic   

Arguably the most scenic highway in Ontario, this 580 km route snakes around the east and north shores of Lake Superior, passing through the most rugged terrain seen in this province. The route is fully paved, and is well-suited for vehicles of all types. The route begins in Sault Ste. Marie, and heads north towards the Montreal River. As the highway passes over the first range of mountains near Hwy 552, drivers are rewarded with a spectacular view of Batchawana Bay, and a scene which could best be described as Californian. For as far as the eye can see, low ranges of rounded, forested mountains extend westerly along the shores of Lake Superior. The highway closely hugs the shore of Lake Superior for over 100 km, sandwiched between the waters of Lake Superior, and the mountains which lay a short distance inland. The road's proximity to Lake Superior provides for some magnificent views of the wild coastline. There are countless miles of isolated beaches and rocky points along this section. Watching a Lake Superior sunset from one of these beaches is a truly memorable experience. As you travel north, the land becomes more rugged, and the inland mountains begin to encroach on the shoreline. At Montreal River, the coastline becomes too rugged for the highway to pass through, and the road abruptly begins to ascend up through the mountains. The next 15 km of highway feature some spectacular views of the Montreal River, and eventually, of Agawa Bay. Here, Hwy 17 enters Lake Superior Provincial Park. After a relatively flat section around the Agawa River, the highway once again is forced away from the coast, and up through the mountains. The lookout at Agawa Bay is one of the most spectacular in the province, with vistas extending some 20 km down the coast on a clear day. For the next 100 km, the highway briefly returns to the coast on several occasions, only to be forced inland again by the rugged terrain. After passing the breathtakingly beautiful Old Woman Bay, Hwy 17 completes its final struggle over the last set of mountains before finally arriving in Wawa.

At Wawa, Hwy 17 crosses some relatively flat terrain, with scenery somewhat more typical of Northeastern Ontario. For the next 80 km, Hwy 17 winds its way through the forests and remote northern lakes of the Algoma District. At White River, the highway begins to turn west towards Nipigon. For the next 70 km, the scenery is far more subdued than on the other portions of this route. The highway is fairly flat and straight, with only occasional lakes to punctuate the perpetual forest scenery. Just west of Hwy 627, Hwy 17 suddenly emerges from the forests and runs straight into the rugged coastal mountain ranges of the north shore of Lake Superior. For the next 180 km, drivers will enjoy some of the most dramatic scenery in the province. The rugged coast, the mountains, and the chronic fog that is often encountered here creates a rather maritime environment. The picturesque fishing village of Rossport seems right at home on the remote coast. Long fingers of mountains stick far out into Lake Superior, and Hwy 17 is continually forced up through high passes to avoid the rugged coast. The longest of these passes lies between Pays Plat and Cavers, and is almost 11 km long (6 km uphill, and 5 km downhill, with grades approaching 8% on many sections). The highway rock cut at Cavers is arguably the most dramatic in the province. The final series of mountains is at Kama Bay, and the highway passes right below the towering red cliffs, while drivers are rewarded with an unforgettable view of beautiful Nipigon Bay. About 15 km west of Kama Bay, Hwy 17 joins up with Hwy 11 from Geraldton, and the two highways head west into Nipigon.

   Hwy 61 Sign Graphic Hwy 61 Pigeon River Tour Title Graphic Hwy 61 Sign Graphic   

This strikingly beautiful route runs for 60 km from Thunder Bay southwesterly to the Minnesota Border at Pigeon River, passing through one of Ontario's most unique landscapes. The Thunder Bay Mesas are a geological oddity in the province, and are surprisingly similar to the dry, rocky peaks normally seen in the American Southwest. These flat-topped mountains have abrupt vertical sides and tops that are practically level. These mesas dot much of the countryside around Thunder Bay, but are most dramatic between Thunder Bay and Pigeon River. This route is fully paved, and is well-suited for vehicles of all types. The route begins at the intersection of Arthur Street and the Thunder Bay Expressway. From there, the route heads south along Hwy 61 through Thunder Bay's rather unsightly industrial section. Fortunately, the unpleasant scenery does not last for very long. After 4 km, Hwy 61 crosses the Kaministiquia River Bridge, and leaves the city behind as it winds below the dramatic peaks of Mount McKay. The highway then heads west, and passes across a wide flat plain, sandwiched between a long range of mountains known as "The Nor'Westers", and the steep highlands north of the Kaministiquia River. After 18 km, Hwy 61 meets up with Hwy 130, and suddenly swings south towards the Minnesota Border. For the next 15 km, Hwy 61 passes through a strange landscape of sprawling, prosperous farms overlooked by intimidating mesas on both sides of the highway. Eventually, the wide flat valley peters out entirely, and the farms suddenly disappear from the landscape. The highway then winds underneath the mesas, which slowly encroach on either side of the road. The landscape becomes increasingly rugged with every bend in the road. By the time Hwy 61 approaches Hwy 593, the mountains tower hundreds of feet above the highway. South of Hwy 593, the mountains quickly subside, as Hwy 61 winds its way down towards the Pigeon River Bridge. When you reach the customs building at Pigeon River, you must turn around and drive back the way you came, as there is no other direct route back to Thunder Bay. While Hwy 593 is a pleasant alternate route back to the city (via Nolalu), it is very remote and circuitous. If you stop at the Pigeon River Information Centre, be sure to try the short nature trail to High Falls. It is one of Northwestern Ontario's most dramatic waterfalls, and will pleasantly conclude any journey down Hwy 61.

    Hwy 28 Sign Graphic    Hwy 41 Sign Graphic Renfrew County Highlands Tour Title Graphic Hwy 60 Sign Graphic    Hwy 62 Sign Graphic   

This scenic tour takes drivers through a little-known but spectacular area of Eastern Ontario, which is rich in both history and scenic beauty. The loop is approximately 225 km in length and passes through Renfrew County's scenic Opeongo Mountains. The route makes for a nice drive at anytime of year, but the autumn colours along this highway in late September and early October can be particularly impressive.

The route begins at the Junction of Hwy 17 and Hwy 60 in the Town of Renfrew, located about 85 km northwest of Downtown Ottawa. Turn west onto Hwy 60 and follow the highway into Downtown Renfrew. Look for the Hwy 132 Junction (Munroe Street) in Downtown Renfrew, just before the railway crossing on Hwy 60. Turn left onto Hwy 132 West. After two blocks, Hwy 132 turns right onto Lochiel Street. Follow Lochiel Street for one block and then turn left onto Lisgar Avenue, which is the route which Hwy 132 follows out of Renfrew. Within a few minutes, Hwy 132 leaves the Town of Renfrew and heads west through the rolling hills towards Dacre. The countryside which Hwy 132 passes through between Renfrew and Dacre is unique to this part of Eastern Ontario. As the highway winds through the rolling hills, drivers may notice that most of the farms have barns constructed from logs. Many of these log barns date from the mid-19th Century, when the area was first settled. The highway itself follows the route of the Opeongo Colonization Road, an early wagon trail which was built to encourage settlement in the Upper Ottawa Valley.

After about 15 km, the Opeongo Mountains appear on the horizon. This high ridge forms the western side of the Ottawa Valley, and extends from Lanark County all the way up into Algonquin Park. With each bend in the road, the Opeongo Mountains become a more dominant feature of the landscape and the size of the mountains become more evident. Dacre is a small community located about 25 km west of Renfrew. At Dacre, drivers can continue west on Hwy 132 towards the Opeongo Mountains or explore the partial ghost town of Balaclava, which is located on Scotch Bush Road about 3 km north of Dacre. Balaclava was a 19th Century sawmill town which fell into decline many decades ago. The community still has several interesting false-fronted stores and sawmill, which now lie abandoned beside the road.

Just west of Dacre, Hwy 132 ends at Hwy 41. Drivers heading westbound from Dacre on this scenic route do not need to turn at the intersection. The through road becomes Hwy 41 South. Beyond the highway junction, Hwy 41 ascends into the Opeongo Mountains. The grade on Hwy 41 is quite significant and continues for several kilometres. At the top of the Opeongo Mountains, a small MTO picnic area at Tooey's Lake provides a quiet and serene stopping point. For the next 25 km, Hwy 41 winds through the highlands on the western side of the Opeongo Mountains, past lakes and forests. There are few farms in this area, since the highlands kept many early settlers at bay. In the small community of Griffith, Hwy 41 crosses the Madawaska River. An MTO picnic area on the eastern side of the bridge provides a nice stopping point to admire this broad and scenic river, which flows from the heart of Algonquin Park to the Ottawa River at Arnprior. From Griffith, Hwy 41 continues south towards Denbigh, passing through a mixture of forests and small farms. After 15 km, Hwy 41 enters Denbigh, a small community at the northern edge of Lennox and Addington County. At the Hwy 28 Junction, turn right and follow Hwy 28 West. The highway passes by several picturesque farms before arriving at the Snake Creek Valley. This enormous valley is one of the most dramatic valleys in the province, and seemingly appears out of nowhere about 15 km west of Denbigh. At the bottom of the valley, Hwy 28 crosses the diminutive Snake Creek before ascending the western side of the valley and arriving at the Hwy 514 Junction at Hardwood Lake.

At the intersection, Hwy 28 turns left towards Bancroft, while Hwy 514 is the road to the right. To continue on the scenic loop, turn right onto Hwy 514. This road heads north towards Schutt, a small community nestled in between the high hills of western Renfrew County. The view from the top of the hill leading into Schutt is particularly impressive. The small Lutheran Church on the eastern side of Hwy 514 leading into Schutt makes for a particularly photogenic scene of the community and the valley beyond it. After 13 km, Hwy 514 ends at the Hwy 515 Junction. Turn left onto Hwy 515 and follow the highway along the banks of the Madawaska River through the community of Palmer Rapids. The highway continues for 14 km to the village of Combermere. At Combermere, the Madawaska River broadens as it joins into Kamaniskeg Lake. This large and scenic lake is a hidden gem, straddling the boundary between Renfrew and Hastings County.

Turn right from Hwy 515 onto Hwy 62 North at Combermere. For the next 17 km, Hwy 62 winds along the beautiful rocky shores of Kamaniskeg Lake. Just south of Barry's Bay, a picnic area on the lakeshore provides an opportunity to stop and enjoy the scenery. Barry's Bay is the largest village in this part of Ontario. With approximately 1,500 residents, Barry's Bay is a full service community and represents the best opportunity along the route to get fuel and supplies for the remainder of the trip. At the main intersection in Barry's Bay, turn right onto Hwy 60 East. Follow Hwy 60 east out of Barry's Bay. The highway passes through a mostly forested area east of Barry's Bay, punctuated by the occasional farm. About 10 km east of Barry's Bay is the community of Wilno. Be sure to check out the Shrine Hill Lookout immediately east of Wilno, where a spectacular panoramic view of the Upper Ottawa Valley can be found. Shrine Hill marks the eastern edge of the Opeongo Mountains, beyond which the terrain is considerably flatter.

From Wilno, Hwy 60 continues east for 13 km towards Killaloe, where the highway begins a 20 km loop around the northern side of scenic Golden Lake. This beautiful lake boasts two MTO picnic areas right on the lakeshore, where it is possible to stop and enjoy the lake scenery with the beautiful Opeongo Mountains on the far side of the lake. From Golden Lake to Eganville, the landscape consists primarily of small farms and low rolling hills. Pass through Eganville on Hwy 60. At Kelly's Corner, 9 km east of Eganville, Hwy 60 turns right. About 7 km later, Hwy 60 turns left at Douglas. Between Douglas and Renfrew, Hwy 60 passes through the fertile Bonnechre Valley, where many large farms have been established. This scenic tour is complete once you arrive at the Hwy 17 Junction at the end of Hwy 60 in Renfrew.

   Hwy 2 Sign Graphic Lake Ontario Tour Title Graphic Hwy 33 Sign Graphic   

The Lake Ontario Shoreline Tour offers motorists a leisurely alternate route between the Oshawa area and Kingston. The tour route roughly parallels Hwy 401, yet you will feel a world away from the frenetic pace of today's freeway culture while you are on this route. This tour route offers motorists with spectacular views of Central Ontario and the northern shore of Lake Ontario. The entire route is approximately 200 km in length and passes through scenic Northumberland, Prince Edward and Lennox and Addington Counties.

The route begins just east of Oshawa at the Hwy 35 & Hwy 115 Interchange on Hwy 401 (Exit #436). To reach this point, drive east along Hwy 401 from Toronto to Oshawa. About 20 km beyond Oshawa, exit from Hwy 401 and begin the tour by following Hwy 35 & Hwy 115 North. After 1 km, exit from Hwy 35 & Hwy 115 at the Hwy 2 Interchange near Newcastle. Turn right at the end of the off-ramp and follow Hwy 2 East towards Newcastle and Port Hope. This route roughly follows the old Danforth Road through Central Ontario. The Danforth Road (later known as Kingston Road) was an early settlers' road constructed between 1799 and 1802. This early road provided the first overland route between Toronto and Kingston. Thereafter, the Danforth Road was improved as a stagecoach route and it steadily gained in importance in the development of Ontario throughout the 19th Century. In fact, the road was so important by the early 1900s that it became the very first provincial highway ever designated by the Province of Ontario. The section of Hwy 2 between the Rouge River and Port Hope was established as a provincial highway almost 100 years ago, in 1917.

At the community of Welcome, Hwy 2 turns south towards Port Hope. Turn right here and continue along Hwy 2 through historic Port Hope. Port Hope is definitely worth stopping and exploring, particularly in the summer when the vibrant downtown area really comes to life with its eclectic mix of specialty shops housed in early 19th-Century buildings. In Downtown Port Hope, Hwy 2 turns right onto Mill Street and then turns left onto Peter Street. Continue east along Hwy 2 towards Cobourg. Once you arrive in Cobourg, turn left onto King Street and continue east along Hwy 2 through historic Downtown Cobourg. Beyond Cobourg, Hwy 2 passes through a very hilly area, offering many pleasant vistas over Lake Ontario. In the Grafton, Colborne and Brighton areas, look out over the surrounding hillsides for fruit farms and winery vineyards, which are all well-suited for the temperate climate and rolling terrain that typifies this area. It may seem hard to believe, but until the Port Hope to Trenton section of Hwy 401 was completed in 1961, this quiet section of Hwy 2 was once the busiest highway in Central Ontario. Even though Hwy 401 lies just a short distance to the north today, the beautiful, tranquil scenery along Hwy 2 is more than enough to calm the nerves. In Downtown Brighton, Hwy 2 turns south for one block before continuing east towards Trenton. Follow Hwy 2 east for 11 km from Brighton, and then turn right onto Wooler Road (County Road 40). If you are running short on time and wish to end the tour early, turn left onto Wooler Road (County Road 40) to return to Hwy 401, located 4 km to the north. It is roughly 100 km back to Oshawa via Hwy 401 from the Wooler Road Interchange.

To continue on the tour, follow County Road 40 south from Hwy 2 for about 4 km until it reaches a T-junction. At this intersection, turn right onto Hwy 33 (Loyalist Parkway). From this point until the end of the tour in Kingston, you will be generally following Hwy 33 through the Counties of Prince Edward and Lennox and Addington. Shortly after turning onto Hwy 33, you will cross a blue swing bridge. This swing bridge crosses over the Murray Canal, which was constructed in 1889 to connect the western end of the Bay of Quinte with Lake Ontario. It was built originally to serve commercial shipping interests, although the canal is primarily used by recreational watercraft now. The park beside the Murray Canal is a great place to stop and take a break or have a picnic. Continue south along Hwy 33 to Consecon. From Consecon, the route of Hwy 33 slowly begins to swing east towards Wellington, Bloomfield and Picton. You are now in the heart of Loyalist Country, an area settled by the United Empire Loyalists in the late 1700s. The Loyalists fled the former English colonies and sought sanctuary in Upper Canada beginning in 1783, once the American Revolutionary War had ended. In 1984, the entire route of Hwy 33 from Trenton to Kingston was dedicated as the Loyalist Parkway, in recognition of these early Ontario settlers.

After 40 km, Hwy 33 joins Hwy 62 from Belleville at a T-intersection in Bloomfield. Turn right at this intersection to continue east along Hwy 33. A side trip to the aptly-named Sandbanks Provincial Park near Bloomfield is always a fun experience. Between Bloomfield and Picton, Hwy 33 passes through a roundabout. Although it was only completed in 2009, the roundabout is significant because it was the first modern roundabout ever constructed on an Ontario provincial highway. Downtown Picton is especially active in the summer months, and is worth a stop. The town has a very pretty harbour along with many early and mid 19th Century buildings. In Downtown Picton, there is a Y-intersection. The left fork is Hwy 49, which heads north back to Hwy 401. To continue on the tour, follow the right fork to stay on Hwy 33.

After leaving Picton, Hwy 33 continues east following the shores of the Bay of Quinte. This long bay nearly separates Prince Edward County from the mainland. There are several nice vistas over Picton Bay and the Bay of Quinte along Hwy 33 between Picton and Glenora. Just before Glenora, an interesting side trip via County Road 7 leads to Lake on the Mountain, which is a curious geologic oddity that is well worth the detour. This interesting lake sits high on top of a bluff, mere metres from the edge of an escarpment which plunges deep into Lake Ontario. Lake on the Mountain has no apparent outlet, so it triumphantly defies the laws of physics and gravity by never draining away. It is one of the strangest natural phenomena in Ontario that shouldn't be missed. After you have visited Lake on the Mountain, return to Hwy 33 and turn right to continue towards Glenora. At Glenora, Hwy 33 crosses a short ferry service over the Bay of Quinte. This ferry operates free of charge year round, with service offered throughout the day every 15 minutes (every 30 minutes during the winter months). The 15-minute trip across the Bay of Quinte on the Glenora Ferry is a memorable highlight of any trip along Hwy 33.

The Glenora Ferry docks at Adolphustown, where Hwy 33 continues east for about 50 km towards Kingston. From this point to Kingston, Hwy 33 very closely follows the shoreline of the Bay of Quinte, offering motorists extensive vistas over Lake Ontario. At Millhaven, County Road 4 (Formerly Hwy 133) returns to Hwy 401. The Loyalist Parkway ends in Kingston. At this point, you can return to Hwy 401 by following Sir John A. MacDonald Boulevard north for 3 km. If you have time, continue east into Downtown Kingston along Princess Street (Hwy 2). Kingston itself is well worth a day trip, as there are many historic buildings to see, along with Fort Henry and the scenic ferry to Wolfe Island, which offers an unbeatable view of Kingston's picturesque waterfront. This scenic tour is complete once you arrive at the Hwy 2 Junction at the end of Hwy 33 in Kingston. It is roughly 200 km back to Oshawa via Hwy 401 from the Sir John A. MacDonald Boulevard Interchange.

Additional routes will be posted soon!

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