Top Winter Activities in Lake of Bays and Huntsville
Blog by Susan Brown | December 18th, 2017
When it comes to winter fun, Muskoka certainly delivers. And thanks to their many natural wonders, scenic parks and attractions, the Lake of Bays and Huntsville areas in particular are popular places for local residents and visitors alike to spend quality family time outdoors.
To help you make the most of our magnificent winter season, be sure to check out this list of the Top Things to See and Do in Lake of Bays and Huntsville when the snow flies.
Ski, Skate and Snowshoe in Arrowhead Provincial Park
Located just a stone’s throw north of Huntsville, spectacular Arrowhead Provincial Park takes on a whole new level of beauty (and fun!) when it’s covered with snow. Open daily from 9am – 5pm, the park’s 33km of well-groomed cross-country ski trails are perfect for classic skiing, with some also open to the increasingly popular sport of skate skiing (trails are clearly marked depending on your preferred choice of activity).
Traditional skate enthusiasts are well catered for, too, thanks to the wonderful 1½km long Ice Trail that meanders through trees around the East River Campground. It’s a great place to host family get-togethers and parties, which can be easily arranged and can include everything from skate rentals and a toasty afternoon campfire. Afterwards, grab a tube and head for the tubing hill, or hang out at one of the two warm-up shelters with a hot drink.
Arrowhead is also popular amongst snowshoe enthusiasts, too. Minimal equipment is needed, and the sport is fun for everyone in the family as it’s easy to learn. Also, advances in technology mean modern snowshoes are easy-to-use and light, and capable of handling deep snow.
To learn more, visit the park’s website at http://www.ontarioparks.com/park/arrowhead
Downhill All the Way at Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Resort
Fans of downhill skiing and snowboarding are also well catered to thanks to Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Resort. Boasting an average of 318cms of snow every winter, there’s enough going on here to attract upwards of 7,000 skiers annually to Muskoka’s only slopes. Highlights include 11 runs, the longest being a decent 580m in length, along with a terrain park, ski club, lessons and ski camps for kids. (Tip: If you’re a resident, be sure to ask about their Muskoka Local Card with its discounts off ski passes.)
For details, visit http://www.skihiddenvalley.ca
On the Level – Cross-country and Nordic Skiing in Algonquin
In addition to the trails at Arrowhead, cross-country and Nordic skiers can also take advantage of superb trail network at nearby Algonquin Provincial Park. Algonquin offers mile-after-mile of fun on its well-groomed trails, with varying lengths available to suit all ages and abilities. All told, the park has 110kms of some of the best such skiing in Ontario, from well-packed trails to a wilderness trail (it’s not groomed) for those who like more of a challenge. And for winter camping enthusiasts, Algonquin Park also has available a number of yurts – heated tent-like structures that offer a great deal of privacy for those wanting to stay longer in the wild.
To learn more, visit their website here.
Sledding – Snowmobiling in Muskoka
Connected to all points north, south, east and west, Muskoka and the Lake of Bays area have long had a great reputation for snowmobiling. Some 1,600kms of trails crisscross cottage country, including plenty of well-groomed trails through Lake of Bays and Huntsville. For those new to the sport, area resorts offer a variety of excellent stay-and-sled packages, while day-trippers and cottagers can rent sleds and all the gear (helmets, clothing, equipment, etc.) from most marinas. Be sure to take advantage of any training offered, too, before hitting the trails.
To learn more about Muskoka’s snowmobile network, visit the Muskoka Snowmobile Region Trail’s website at http://www.msrsnowtrails.com/Trail-Status/. For details of snowmobile rentals, contact the Old Mill Marina or Mountain Trout House in Dorset, or Baysville Marina.
After all that outdoor adventure and activity, be sure to spend some time at any one of the many winter festivals held around Muskoka. Sometimes hosted in partnership with area resorts with their great weekend package offerings, these always fun events include activities such as outdoor public skating rinks and skate rentals, access to ski trails (such as those already mentioned at Arrowhead Provincial Park), pond hockey tournaments, ice fishing, horse-pulled sleigh rides, dogsledding, and curling, to name but a few.
To help you find the best festival for you, here are a few of our favourites from around the Lake of Bays:
- Port Sydney Winter Carnival – Feb 2nd – 4th
Highlights include fun community dinners, skating and tobogganing, free apple cider and hot chocolate (plus pancakes!), snowshoeing, snow painting and live music.
- Dwight Winter Carnival – Feb 10th – 11th
This family friendly weekend includes a pancake breakfast, plenty of outdoor activities including interactive sport stations, Science North activities and the always popular chili cook off.
- Baysville Winterfest – Date TBA
Usually taking place on the Monday of the Family Day holiday weekend, this popular one-day festival offers plenty of family fun.
- Dorset Winter Carnival – Feb 17th – 18th
Highlights include a pancake breakfast, the annual Dorset Snowball Parade, pond hockey and skating, wagon rides and a silent auction.