Sudbury is a fantastic destination for people who love spending time outdoors. If it’s been a while since you visited Ontario’s unofficial capital of the north, you’ll find that hard to believe. Sudbury has come a long way over the past few decades. As recently as the 1980s, sulphur dioxide pollution from mining decimated the city’s greenery and turned the rocks black. The city undertook a massive regreening project beginning in 1978. More than 10 million trees have been planted so far, and today the lush Canadian Shield forests have returned. Thanks to this, the city is green again, and we can once again enjoy the best outdoor activities in Sudbury.
Here are four of the best places in Sudbury to get active and spend some time outdoors.
Kivi Park is Sudbury’s year-round outdoor adventure playground! This 480-acre park at the south end of Sudbury was opened in 2016. It’s home to more than 55 kilometres of trails for hiking, fat biking or mountain biking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. You can also rent equipment for some activities at the park, thanks to Sudbury sporting goods store Adventure365.
If you enjoy organized sports, you can take advantage of the disc golf course, soccer field, basketball courts, and hockey rink. Families with kids will appreciate the two large playgrounds and the hiking trail to the park’s wishing tree. Summer access for canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding is available at the Crowley Lake sector. And in the winter, a 1.3-kilometre skating trail weaves its way through the tall birch trees of the boreal forest. At Kivi Park, Sudbury’s residents and visitors can enjoy the outdoors in numerous ways every season.
Lake Laurentian Conservation Area
Greater Sudbury is home to 330 lakes, the most of any municipality in Canada. One of those is Lake Laurentian, which along with several others is part of Lake Laurentian Conservation Area. Located in the city’s south end, this park offers four-season trails for running, hiking, cycling, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Note that equipment rentals are not offered here. If you’re able to bring your own canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard, there are docks available near the main parking area.
Lake Laurentian Conservation Area is one of the best places in Sudbury to see the effects of the regreening project. From the lookouts on the hiking trails, you can spot juts of black rock in between the trees. Imagine standing on the same spot just a few decades ago and seeing no trees at all! This remarkable transformation is one of the projects featured in the IMAX film Jane Goodall’s Reasons for Hope. It showcases nature’s incredible resilience and ability to heal and truly does offer hope for the future.
Even in the busiest parts of Sudbury, there’s parkland to enjoy. Ramsey Lake is the second-largest lake in the world that’s contained within the limits of a city. (The largest lake in the world that lies fully within a city is Lake Wanapitei, which also falls within Greater Sudbury’s city limits!) Just behind Science North, you can access a 2 km boardwalk on the shores of Ramsey Lake in Bell Park.
You can walk past a marina and a boarding dock for boat tours, a supervised beach with washrooms, and a children’s play structure. Canada’s largest mural is on the walls of Sudbury’s abandoned St. Joseph’s Hospital, located within present-day Bell Park. A few steps away, you can visit the 10 millionth tree planted during Sudbury’s regreening project by Jane Goodall herself. The Grace Hartman Amphitheatre is located along Bell Park’s boardwalk and hosts live outdoor concerts during the summer months.
Onaping Falls, located northwest of Sudbury, is famous as the subject of the painting Spring on the Onaping River by Group of Seven artist A.Y. Jackson. A lookout bearing his name and 3 km of hiking trails are located at the falls and in the surrounding forest.
The falls cascade 55 metres down the edge of the Sudbury Basin. This 60-kilometre crater is the third largest in the world. It was created by a meteor impact that occurred more than 1.8 billion years ago. The impact deposited the nickel, copper, gold, platinum and other metals that are extracted today by Sudbury’s mining industry.
A.Y. Jackson painted Spring on the Onaping River on this site in 1953. The painting was purchased two years later by a group of students and was hung at Sudbury Secondary School. Shortly after Jackson’s death in 1974, the painting was stolen and hasn’t been seen since. This tale adds another layer of lore and intrigue to this beautiful site. You can take a short walk to the A.Y. Jackson Lookout or a more challenging hike to the bridge and its picture-perfect views. Either way, the views here are spectacular and accessible to most.