Embrace Winter in Muskoka!

Winter has arrived in Muskoka!
Embrace it! 

With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season behind us, from now until the end of March, there is something happening almost every weekend in Muskoka. Start planning and see why Muskoka is a year round destination.

With the chilly start to 2018, outdoor skating rinks are already in prime condition to enjoy. Visit one or all five ice skating trails during your visit to Muskoka.

  • The Cranberry Ice Trail located at Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh in Bala is open daily for your pleasure. You will love the 1.2 kilometers of trail circling 12 acres of cranberries.
  • The Hanna Park skating trail in Port Carling, at the end of Bailey Street offers views of the Indian River. If you have little ones who are just learning to skate, this 200m trail may be the perfect destination as there is a packed down trail that runs beside the skate trail for parents or grandparents to walk along and assist their young skaters.
  • The Town of Bracebridge added the Memorial Park Winter Village and skate trail in 2016. This trail is located downtown, and easily accessible to many of the local restaurants and cafes to warm up afterwards. The town also operates an outdoor rink at Annie Williams Park.
  • The Arrowhead Park Skate Trail, in Huntsville is one of the first skate trails in the area, offers 1.3 kilometres of skating through a beautiful evergreen forest.  Be sure to check on their website or their Twitter before you arrive; the secret is out, and the trail is often operating at capacity on weekends in January and February. Vehicles can wait upwards of 30 minutes to enter the park and in extreme cases eager visitors can be turned away. Fire and Ice nights are a beautiful way to enjoy the skate trail, this happens select Thursday and Saturday nights in January and February.  
  • Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville has also opened their own 250m ice skating trail at their waterfront, making it a convenient activity for those staying at the resort.

Check out the Arrowhead Provincial Park Ice Skating Trail here

If you are looking to cover a little bit more ground on your winter outing, why not embrace a truly Canadian experience, and explore the forests behind a team of dogs. Dogsledding is a peaceful way to take in Muskoka’s natural beauty, although one should be prepared to do some physical work as a the musher (which is a great way to stay warm in the cooler temperatures). North Ridge Ranch is located just 10 minutes outside of Huntsville. The owners are a wonderful family who show so much love and respect for the many four-legged members of their team.  Enjoy a one hour or half day tours through their property of well maintained trails.  JW Marriott Resort and Spa, The Rosseau offers dog sledding excursions for resort guests most Saturdays through January and February and over March Break (weather permitting).  This is a great opportunity to explore the resort grounds in a truly Canadian way.  

There are a number of trail networks to choose from if you are looking to test out your cross country skis on your visit to Muskoka this winter.

  • The Gravenhurst Muskoka KOA offers 14kms of groomed and track set trails through their 700+ acres. They have rentals on site, as well as equipment for sale.
  • The Bracebridge Resource Management Centre located North of Bracebridge off Highway 11 has 16.5 kms of groomed trails which are rated as easy to moderate, great for any beginner. Travelling further north to Huntsville, you will find Arrowhead Provincial Park with up to 38kms of trails, both track set and skate set.  They also offer rentals for both skate and classic skiing.
  • The Limberlost Forest Reserve has 25kms of track set trails for classic skiing that will appeal to the ‘novice to advanced’ skiers.  The best part about this trail network is that it is free!
  • Algonquin Park has 85kms of groomed ski trails and 32kms of non-groomed cross-country ski trails.  While there are no rentals available at the park, Algonquin Outfitters in Oxtongue Lake, and Huntsville offer equipment rentals for anybody looking to try the sport in the Huntsville area.  
  • Liv Outside in Bracebridge also offers rentals to those looking for them in the Bracebridge area, and they are offering guided tours for those looking to try backcountry skiing, check out their website for more information.  No shortage of possibilities for even the beginner cross country skier.

Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area is the only option for downhill skiing in the Muskoka Area, and it is known for its great family atmosphere offering ski & snowboard school, equipment rental and pro shop, as well as having a cafeteria and kids camp (on and off snow).  Their website offers more information on lift tickets and season passes.  

If you prefer to explore by snowshoe, there are some beautiful trail networks to explore across Muskoka. Algonquin Provincial Park, Arrowhead Provincial Park, Muskoka Gravenhurst KOA and Bracebridge Resource Management Centre all compliment their cross country ski trail networks with additional trails dedicated to snowshoeing.  In addition, Torrence Barrens Conservation Area (and Dark Sky Preserve) near Bala offers 3km, 5km and 6km loops.  Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh has 10km of trails for snowshoeing, and they offer rentals by the half day.  Deerhurst Resort and JW Mariott Resort & Spa, The Rosseau have trails for their guests to use and offer rental equipment for those who need it.  Algonquin Outfitters in Huntsville and Oxtongue Lake and Liv Outside in Bracebridge offer snowshoe rentals, as does Arrowhead Provincial Park.  

What are you waiting for? Muskoka has had a great start to the winter season, there’s plenty of snow and ice to enjoy. Pack your warm woollies and come for a day, a weekend, or longer.  There is plenty to see and do in ‘cottage country’ even when you can’t jump in the lake.  

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