Winter is a magical time in Huntsville and Lake of Bays. Invigorating temperatures and a snow-covered landscape provide the perfect setting to get outside whether it’s to enjoy your family’s favourite winter pastime or to discover a new adventure. Need some ideas? Here are six of the most unique experiences you’ll love this season.
Visit a Winter Playground
If you are after the quintessential Muskoka winter adventure, look no further than Huntsville’s Arrowhead Provincial Park. The park’s star attraction is the winter skating trail. Bring your skates or rent them at the park and glide through 1.3 km of snow covered forest. Saturday’s Fire and Ice Nights are pure magic, with the entire trail lit by torches and a bonfire and hot chocolate to enjoy afterward. However, Arrowhead has so much more to offer in winter than just the ice trail. The park grooms and maintains more than 30 km of Nordic ski trails for both classic and skate skiing. There are a variety of trails for hiking and snowshoeing including the popular Stubbs Falls trail. There is also a tubing hill large enough to ensure even the biggest kids will have a thrill, with a bonfire pit and warm up hut at the top – the tubes are provided! Looking for something different? Try the sport of skijoring, where skiers are pulled along the trails by dogs. The sport is the perfect way to exercise both you and your dogs while taking in Arrowhead’s winter splendour. All you need to bring are your skis (or you can rent them at the park) and your sense of adventure – the dogs are provided!
Hit the Slopes
Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area has been a Huntsville winter tradition for more than 40 years. A family favourite destination, the resort has 12 slopes serviced by three quad chair lifts as well as a beginner hill with handle tow. Hidden Valley has an excellent ski school program with lessons for all ages and abilities with their fun and friendly certified snow pros. They offer day and night skiing including the always popular Thrifty Thursday night rates. Check their website for special events and pack up the family for a day or weekend of winter fun.
Discover a Winter Gem
If you are searching for something more “off the beaten path,” the Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve is the destination for you. The reserve is a publicly accessible private year-round wilderness haven boasting 20 private lakes and more than 10,000 acres of unspoiled mixed forest. In the winter there are 25 kilometres of groomed trails for Nordic skiing that are free for public use daily from 9 am to 5 pm. Ski at your own pace around lakes, through the forest and past some of the reserve’s unique natural features. Bring your skis or rent from the Algonquin Outfitters store in Huntsville. There are also several trails open for snowshoeing. Pack a lunch and a hot drink and immerse yourself in a snow-covered paradise.
See a Waterfall in Winter
Ragged Falls, located past the Village of Dwight on the way to Algonquin Provincial Park, has been a popular summer destination for generations. The torrent of water that surges through the rocks and rushes powerfully down to Oxtongue Lake below was the subject of two famous paintings by Group of Seven artist A.J. Casson. Far fewer people have experienced Ragged Falls in the winter. Snowshoeing is the easiest way to travel the trail leading to the falls, but it is often passable for hiking as well. The approach to the falls winds between towering pines, and you can hear the roar of the water long before you can see it. In winter, the water forms sculptures of ice along the banks as it flows swiftly in an ever-changing dance through the sparkling snow and mist.
Fat Bike through the Forest
Algonquin Provincial Park’s Old Railway Bike Trail runs 16 km along reclaimed railbed from the historic Ottawa, Arnprior and Parry Sound Railway. The tracks were removed and what remains is an almost completely flat trail that winds over open fields, through majestic forest and along the banks of several lakes. A favourite for cycling and hiking in the summer, the trail is even more beautiful in winter. Never heard of a fat bike? Riding on tires up to five inches wide, fat bikes allow the rider to float on top of packed snow and enjoy riding from a whole new perspective. The sport is less about speed or distance and more about enjoying the ride and experiencing cycling in a unique new way. Access to the trail is at the Mew Lake Campground. Remember to buy a car pass at the park gate before you ride. Algonquin Outfitters in Huntsville rents fat bikes if you need one for the day or weekend, as there are overnight camping options in the park as well.
Cozy Up with a Romantic Evening Sleigh Ride
What could be more romantic than cuddling under warm blankets on a horse drawn sleigh through winter trails lit by torches? Back of Beyond Equine Centre will take couples, families or groups through snow covered forest trails, with the torchlight leading the way. After your tour, enjoy a traditional campfire with beverages and snacks as you relax with loved ones and friends under a display of stars unmatched in more urban surroundings.
This winter, embrace the spirit of Canadian adventure and head outdoors to enjoy the best of the season. Whether you are looking for an endurance challenge, snowy exploration or fun for the whole family, Huntsville and Lake of Bays is packed with unique experiences that will leave you wanting more.