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29 October 2021

Winter Is Coming: Get Ready For Some Snowy Fun At Ontario Parks

Man crosscountry skiing. Mikisew Provincial Park / Rob Stimpson, 2021

With Halloween weekend upon us, Ontarians know that wintery weather is just around the corner. Soon our parks and wild spaces will be transformed into a wonderland of ice and snow. While winter technically only lasts for three months, we all know that the snow and blistery weather can last from November to May. That is way too long to hibernate. Many Ontario Parks are open over the winter and provide plenty of fun ways to enjoy the snow. Grab your friends or family, pack a thermos of hot chocolate, and head out to enjoy the great outdoors! Here are five amazing adventures you can have in Ontario Parks this winter:

Arrowhead Provincial Park / Photographer: Evan Holt

Skating on Trails Through the Woods:

Arrowhead Provincial Park’s skating trail has become so popular that last winter cars lined up for hours to get a chance to skate around the wooded path. And for good reason. The trail is a 1.3 kilometre loop, winding beautifully through forest terrain with cozy fire pits available along the way to warm your hands and toes. It is a truly magical experience. This year, the park will be allowing people to book day use passes up to five days in advance. The day pass guarantees you access into the park on that day so you can avoid disappointment. For a quieter experience, avoid the weekends and head out on a weekday. Arrowhead is located just a few minutes outside Huntsville, making it an easy place to find overnight accommodations or as a day trip from Toronto.

MacGregor Provincial Park, located near Port Elgin on the shores of Lake Huron also does a winter skating trail, albeit a bit shorter than the one in Arrowhead at just 400 metres. Mew Lake in Algonquin Park and the Pinery Provincial Park (also on Lake Huron, close to Grand Bend) have more traditional skating rinks set up for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy.

Male snowshoer at Frontenac Provincial Park / Photographer: Evan Holt, 2019

Snowshoeing On Pristine Trails:

Walking on a glistening blanket of snow is exhilarating. Snowshoes make it that much more fun. Ontario’s many hiking trails are perfect for snowshoeing once the snow falls; in fact, 28 of the province’s parks offer snowshoeing trails and many of them are designated for only that purpose. If you don’t own your own snowshoes, some parks will rent them. One of our favourite parks to try out snowshoeing is at Frontenac Provincial Park in South Eastern Ontario. Located as it is on the southern edge of the Canadian Shield, Frontenac has beautiful landscapes amid snow-laden pines. The park has a dedicated 8 kilometre trail just for snowshoers, and many other hiking trails that work well for snowshoeing newbies.

Family Tobogganing, Bronte Creek

Tobogganing and Tubing Fun:

Head out on a hill for some crazy fun on a tube or toboggan. Bronte Creek Provincial Park in Oakville and the Pinery Provincial Park near Grand Bend, both offer epic hills for tobogganing fun. The view from the top of the impressive hill in Bronte Creek offers a panoramic view of the surrounding park. The view itself is worth the hike up, but we highly recommend bringing something fun to slide all the way back down. You’ll feel like a kid again. For an even more magical experience, head to the hill at the Pinery (located near the Winter Chalet) after sunset to experience the hill all lit up for the evening.

Fat biking at sunset / Rob Stimpson, 2021

Winter Biking

Have you ever heard of fat biking? Fat bikes are basically mountain bikes equipped with oversized tires that allow them to handle snow-covered terrain. Try your hand at this fun winter activity along Algonquin Park’s Old Railway Bike Trail. This 12-kilometre long, flat and groomed trail goes from Pog Lake to Cache Lake and makes for a great ride for beginners. You can rent fat bikes at local Outfitter stores.

Cross-country skiing

A Cardio Workout in the Woods:

Cross country skiing — or Nordic skiing as it is sometimes called — is one of the most popular winter activities at Ontario Parks. Sixteen parks offer groomed or track-set trails through stunning terrain all around the province. If you don’t have your own equipment, you can rent skis at five of the parks. Windy Lake Provincial Park, just north of Sudbury, is a favourite for skiers of all levels. With 15 kilometres of trails, you’re sure to discover something new at each visit.

No matter your choice of winter activity, make sure to spend some days enjoying Ontario’s snow-covered landscape. What’s your favourite way to enjoy the long Ontario winter?