5 Winter Hikes To Try This Weekend in Southern Ontario
The winter season in Ontario can be long and harsh. Between all the snow, cold and freezing rain, it can be difficult to find the motivation to get outside and enjoy nature. But the cold season isn’t dull and boring! If you head outside, you’ll find excellent opportunities to quietly explore some beautiful natural areas that are usually packed during the summer months. All you need is some cold weather gear and you’re good to go! Remember to be mindful of ice dangers. It is best to stay on marked trails.
Looking for inspiration? Here are five great winter hikes in Ontario to try this weekend:
1. Bruce Peninsula
Home to some of the most scenic views over Lake Huron, Bruce Peninsula National Park is a great spot for a hike. It is located on Highway 6 by Tobermory, about three and a half hours north from Toronto. The park’s backbone is the Niagara Escarpment, which has created some incredible dramatic rocky cliffs that jut into the turquoise waters below. In the winter, the Cyprus Lake Trail, Georgian Bay Trail, Marr Lake Trail and Horse Lake Trail are all open but not maintained. Visit the Parks Canada site for more information on accessing this park in the winter months and be sure to click through to the winter safety tips.
Located on the shores of Lake Ontario, approximately 2 hours east of Toronto, Presqu’ile Provincial Park is a perfect destination for a winter trek. The relatively flat terrain makes the hiking accessible to many fitness levels and the beautiful vistas over the lake are well worth the visit. A favourite route is the paved one-way loop around the peninsula where you can enjoy views of the icy lake. Look out for ice cliffs and ice volcanoes, which make for spectacular scenery. Since it is accessible to cars, this route is plowed in the winter but do be cautious of oncoming cars. There are also 12 additional km of trails where cars are not allowed to venture, so there’s lots of choice for those seeking more isolation. The park is home to many winter birds such as overwintering ducks, bald eagles, snow buntings and snowy owls.
3. Mount Nemo
Mount Nemo Conservation Area, located in Burlington, is a fabulous place for a winter hike. It is home to a unique cliff-edge ecosystem within the Niagara Escarpment, which includes towering limestone cliffs, crevice caves, rock fissures and talus slopes. Choose from two trails — the 2.6 km North Loop or the 2.3 km South Loop — or if you have time, hike both! Either way, you’ll be treated to incredible lookouts over the surrounding region. The park is particularly tranquil during the winter months when the snow-covered trails receive less traffic and the snow-covered trees sparkle in the winter sun.
4. Murphys Point
Murphys Point Provincial Park is located on Big Rideau Lake, about 20 minutes from Perth. It is part of the historic Rideau waterway and the Frontenac Arch Biosphere. In the winter, it is one of the best places for cross-country skiing in the area, with 26 km of maintained trails. But the park is also really great for a winter hike and a fun place to snowshoe. Visitors often enjoy snowshoeing the Beaver Trail and the Silver Queen Mine Trail.
5. Crawford Lake
For a great winter walk for the whole family head to Crawford Lake Conservation Area. Located in Milton, this great park is transformed into a winter wonderland when the snow falls. The most popular trail here is the Crawford Lake Trail, which circles around — you guessed it — Crawford Lake. It features a raised wooden boardwalk that is not only fun to walk on but makes for some very cool pictures. Be sure to check out the Hide and Seek Trail that features wood carvings of Ontario’s species at risk. Want a longer hike? The park offers several other hiking paths that range from 1.5 km to nearly 5 km.