Dorset Lookout Tower offers the best views for nature lovers visiting Muskoka, Ontario.
Offering a breathtaking 360 degree view, the Dorset Lookout Tower observation deck stands 142 metres above Lake of Bays. The park is located just over two hours drive from Toronto, between Baysville and Huntsville.
Our travel guide to Dorset Lookout Tower, also known as Dorset Tower and Dorset Fire Tower, offers tips on when to visit, park entry prices, hiking trails and the best nearby attractions.
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Dorset Lookout Tower Reopening May 2022
One of Muskoka’s most beloved attractions was closed for over 2 years due to Covid-19.
In March, 2022 it was announced the Dorset Lookout Tower would reopen in time for the May long weekend.
A new pre-sale ticketing system has been established, so staff can track, and if necessary, limit the number of visitors on the site each day.
The local council was unanimous in its support of the reopening of the iconic Dorset Tower, with deputy mayor Liz Danielsen particularly enthusiastic about the decision. “I really like to see that the tower will be reopening. I know everybody has missed being able to go up there and enjoy the facilities,” she said.
Dorset Lookout Tower History
The original tower was built in 1922 and measured 25 metres high. It was originally used by rangers who kept an eye out for potentially disastrous forest fires. The original tower in Dorset became obsolete in 1962 when aircraft replaced towermen.
The current Dorset tower was built in 1967 and stands 30 metres above ground. It was created as a tourist attraction so locals and visitors could enjoy the best view of Muskoka’s scenic lakes.
When To Visit Dorset Lookout Tower
Each year more than 10,000 vehicles, approximately 60,000 guests, visit Dorset Lookout Tower Park.
The Dorset Tower is open each year from May to early November. The best time to visit the park is on a sunny day during the week.
The Dorset Fire Tower is busiest during the Fall, when Muskoka’s landscape transforms into a cavalcade of colours. Large group tours from Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea visit during this time of year to photograph Muskoka’s multi-coloured landscape.
While the views during the Thanksgiving long weekend are beautiful the guest experience can feel a little overwhelming. During peak Autumn season, it it not unusual for over 700 vehicles to visit the Dorset Lookout Tower in a single day.
If you’re visiting during the peak season you’ll find friendly police and local volunteers that help manage traffic leading to the park. We suggest being patient and waiting to park in the lot once an available spot is free.
Do not park on the driveways of nearby laneways as they are private property. Do not park on the shoulder of the highway as it’s illegal.
If you are keen to experience Muskoka’s most famous view during the high season by car, we suggest arriving early in the morning. You’ll avoid the big crowds during the afternoon and won’t have to wait in a long line to climb up the tower.
The tower can also be visited by snowmobile in the winter months. The trail leading to the Dorset Lookout Tower is part of the Tall Pines Snowmobile Club Trail.
Best Hike in Dorset
You can save money and avoid waiting in line with a parade of cars looking to park by leaving your car in the town of Dorset and enjoying a walk or cycle to the park’s main entrance.
Free parking is available at the baseball diamond on Dorset’s Main Street, as well as the parkette located on Highway 35. From both of these areas it is easy access to the walking trail that leads to the tower from the base of Tower Hill, just behind the Dorset Heritage Museum.
The 2.3 km Dorset Scenic Tower Trail is considered moderately difficult and requires a good level of fitness and quality hiking shoes. The marked trail takes around 25 minutes to complete if you take the less steep route. Walk-in visitors are required to pay just $2 once they arrive to the Dorset Tower Park. This is the cheapest way to access Dorset Lookout Tower!
Be sure to review the Dorset Scenic Tower Trail map before strapping on your hiking boots!
Experience Dorset Lookout Tower
Visitors can climb to the observation deck, 142 metres above Lake of Bays, and enjoy the view from a scenic tree-top lookout as well as ground level panoramas.
The park facilities include picnic sites, restrooms, a tourist information kiosk, gift shop and hiking trail.
Check out the Dorset Lookout Tower live webcam before your visit to see what the views and weather are like that day.
Looking to take photos with your iPhone or professional DSLR? We strongly suggest strapping your camera or phone around your neck or wrist so it doesn’t go crashing to the ground! On a busy day that is also windy, it’s entirely possible that you could lose your grip while marching up the tower. Best to plan ahead to protect your precious technology!
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Dorset Lookout Tower Prices
Dorset Tower ticket prices are subject to change. If you’re a local or visit Muskoka several times each year we suggest purchasing a seasons pass. Revenue from ticket sales help support the upkeep and maintenance of the park.
You can pay with cash, debit or credit card (Visa and MasterCard).
- Walk Up: $5.50
- Car: $16.50
- Motorcycle: $8.25
- Coach/Van– up to 9 passengers: $22
- Large RV or Mini Bus– 10-15 passengers: $33
- Mini Bus– 16-29 passengers: $49.50
- Coach Bus– 30 passengers or more: $71.50
- Seasons Pass: $27.50
*Seasons passes are limited to the registration of 2 vehicles per household and can not be shared.
Hours of Operation
The park is typically open to visitors seven days a week from 9-6pm. However, hours fluctuate slightly during the shoulder season so we suggest contacting the park in advance to confirm before your visit.
Email: [email protected]
Things To Do Near Dorset Lookout Tower
Planning a road trip to Dorset Lookout Tower?
There are plenty of nearby attractions you simply can’t miss! You can easily fill an entire action packed day in Dorset, with highlights including a scenic hike, craft brewery, local restaurants, art studios and museums.
- Lake of Bays Marine Museum: Located on the Dorset waterfront just below the town’s bridge. Visitors will find artifacts and photographs on display and many historical recollections concerning the marine history of Lake of Bays and the SS Bigwin. Guests can book a cruise on the historic SS Bigwin from May until October.
- Dorset Heritage Museum: Located in downtown Dorset, the town’s historic museum features exhibits of early pioneer life, local settlers and traditional logging practices.
- Algonquin Park: Dorset is the gateway for nature lovers in Muskoka looking for an authentic camping experience. The provincial park is ranked as one of the best in Ontario and features an art gallery, visitors centre and 7,653 km² of untouched nature.
- Lake of Bays Brewing: Located a short drive south of Dorset in Baysville, Lake of Bays Brewing is one of Muskoka’s best craft breweries. Guests can order beer flights at the bar or on a sunny day enjoy a sip on the breweries outdoor patio.
- Robinson’s General Store: If you’re looking to grab a snack or pack a picnic visit Dorset’s historic country store. It’s been serving the local community since 1921 and gives visitors an opportunity to enjoy a rural shopping experience. Locals one-stop-shop for groceries, hardware, fresh baked goods and gifts.
- Pizza on Earth: Dorset’s most popular seasonal restaurant opens each May and prepares delicious wood-fired bagels and pizza.
- Dwight Trading Post: Our favourite tourist stop on Highway 60 is this family-run trading post, which features a totem pole and teepee out front. Pop into each of the buildings and you’ll find native crafts, cottage decor, candy and fudge shop and ice cream parlour.
- Henrietta’s Bakery: Ranked as the best bakery in Muskoka, Henrietta’s now operates locations in Huntsville and Dwight. The original location can be found in Dwight and is famous for its sticky buns.
- Zachary’s Restaurant: The most romantic dining experience in Dorset can be enjoyed at Zachary’s Restaurant. Guests can dine on an outdoor patio offering beautiful views over Lake of Bays.
- Local Art Galleries: Creative minds are spoilt for choice when it comes to art galleries in Dorset and Dwight. We suggest planning an art gallery hopping tour that includes Elizabeth Johnson Paintings, Love Pottery and Yoga and Brenda Turnour Art Studio.
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Be sure to check your travel destinations electrical plug requirements in advance. If you travel often be sure to purchase a multi-region adaptor.
Whether you’re marching through a city or exploring a rugged rural landscape, it’s important to ensure you’re traveling with comfortable footwear. We suggest these comfortable walking shoes for urban adventures or these waterproof hiking boots when embarking on a hike holiday.
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