Grab your skis and hit the slopes
With resorts including Blue Mountain, Horseshoe, Calabogie Peaks and Hidden Valley, Ontario offers skiers a number of exciting downhill options. Blue Mountain Resort, just two hours north of Toronto now offers skiers 364 acres of slopes and 42 trails thanks to the recent Orchard expansion which increased the resort’s skiable area by 21%, making it the largest in Ontario. With a number of slopes offering varying levels of difficulty, Blue Mountain is the perfect resort for first-timers or more confident skiers and enjoys a buzzing après scene. Horseshoe Resort is a popular southern Ontario ski destination stretching over 680 acres. Located in a natural snow belt just one hour north of Toronto, Horseshoe offers 29 different runs, a re-designed terrain park complete with rail plaza and ski and snowboard cross course, and more than 45km of groomed Nordic ski trails that take cross-country and skate skiers through the beautiful Copeland Forest. Instead of slopes being closed to skiers at night like many European resorts, Horseshoe’s are open seven nights a week for a spot of adventurous night skiing.
Hidden Valley Resort, located on the picturesque shores of Peninsula Lake in Muskoka, is the only lakeside resort in the province and enjoys uncrowded slopes and plenty of fresh powder, and is ideal for beginners. The resort stretches across 35 skiable acres and the average yearly snowfall reaches 3.4m. Hidden Valley also offers skiers night skiing and a terrain park to show off their skills.
Near Ottawa, Calabogie Peaks is both an alpine and cross-country resort just 45 minutes’ drive from the city. The resort boasts the highest vertical drop in Ontario at 780 feet along with 22 trails, including the longest green trail in the province for beginners, and a slopestyle terrain park and mogul fields. For cross-country skiers, 26 provincial parks are open during the winter season including Arrowhead and Algonquin, which encompass more than 450km of cross-country ski trails. On the outskirts of Ottawa, visitors can enjoy over 150km of cross-country trails out on the Greenbelt, which are suitable for beginners as well as more advanced skiers.
Enjoy experiences that slide beyond the slopes
Lake Superior credit: Ivorr
For snow bunnies that want to try something different this winter Ontario offers a number of exciting alternatives to try. For adventurers looking to reach new heights Northern Ontario is renowned ice-climbing country. Visitors have the chance to explore dozens of ice-clad routes from Thunder Bay to Red Rock along the northern shores of Lake Superior, some reaching over 300 feet in height.
Back on the ground and on two wheels, those who enjoy cycling can try their hand on “fat bikes” which have been specially adapted for snowy terrain with extra thick tyres. On offer at Horseshoe Valley, just an hour-and- a-half from Toronto, visitors can enjoy calm serenity as they peddle through Ontario’s pristine wilderness with Ride Guides.
Winter in Ontario
For a fast-paced ride through the snow, visitors to Ontario have the chance to mush with huskies with Voyageur Quest, Call of the Wild, Snow Forest Adventures and Highlands Wilderness Tours offering husky rides in and around Algonquin Provincial Park and Winterdance offering rides in Haliburton. Boreal Journeys offer dog sledding near Thunder Bay and Borealis Dogsled Tours offer tours in Vermilion Bay. Alternatively, those with a need for speed can enjoy a day’s snowmobiling along the world’s longest interconnected system of groomed trails.
Ice fishing is another quintessential Canadian activity to enjoy in Ontario. 1000 Islands Helicopter Tours offer all-inclusive, fully guided heli ice fishing excursions, which includes around trip helicopter transfer from Gananoque. Visitors have an opportunity to fish for Trout, Walleye, Pike and Perch and enjoy the stunning views as they fly over 1000 Islands.For an experience that is hard-pressed to be found anywhere else, the Arrowhead Provincial Park Ice Skating Trail is a must-do, taking skatersthrough the wilderness on a dedicated 1.5km-long trail. Visit during one of the park’s Fire & Ice nights when the trail is illuminated by hundreds of Tiki torches for a truly unique experience. Other notable ice skating rinks in Ontario include the record-breaking Rideau Canal in Ottawa – the world’s largest naturally frozen ice skating rink – as well as Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto.
The province also offers the opportunity to enjoy snow tubing, ice fishing and sleigh rides as well as snowshoeing at a number of provincial parks including Arrowhead, Killarney, Pinery, Wasaga Beach and Windy Lake. Experience the ultimate winter stay: Located in Muskoka, Deerhurst resort is the perfect place to stay to explore Ontario’s winter wonderland. The picturesque “cottage country” resort offers guests a number of different accommodation options including lakeside rooms, condos, lodges and holiday homes. There are also a vast number of winter activities to enjoy including snowmobiling, skiing, dog-sledding and sleigh rides to name a few.
Nearby is the J.W. Marriott Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa, a luxury lakeside resort offering a peaceful sanctuary. Guests can enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and skating, amongst other wintery activities. After an action packed day, guests can unwind and relax at the resort’s spa, Spa Rosseau – a full-service luxury spa with eleven treatment rooms including a Vichy room for hydrotherapy.
One for outdoor enthusiasts, visitors to Algonquin Provincial Park can stay in Yurts during the winter months. The tent-like structures are mounted on a wooden deck floor, offer electric head and can sleep up to six people. The Yurts are easily accessible at the Mew Lake Campground and Achrav Campground.
For further information on Ontario, please visit www.ontariotravel.net