Winter is here and the intrepid among us are excited to be outdoors, complete with red noses and chilled fingertips. It’s “snowventure” season, and we are pumped to savour every last snowflake.

Sure, you could spend your winter huddled indoors, waiting for the first signs of spring, or you could embrace the chilly weather with both arms and celebrate the best of this fantastically Canadian season.  Your reward will be trekking down snowy trails on snowshoes, careening downhill on skis, climbing a wall of ice, or discovering the beauty of winter camping.

Experience the best of winter in Ontario’s Highlands.

4-Day Snowventure

Start Here: Haliburton

If ever there is a region made for exploring in winter, it’s Haliburton. Home to towering evergreens, vast forests, and deep lakes, the sights and sounds of winter call to you much louder here. Try your hand at ice climbing, dog sledding, or have a winter history lesson – it’s all right in Haliburton.

  • Book Yours Outdoors Fur & Flintlock experience and be introduced to the history of the fur trade in winter.
  • Yours Outdoors’ Introduction to Hot Tent Camping is another way to embrace winter and stay cozy at the same time. This is an overnight experience which will modify this interary.
  • Climb a wall of ice in the backcountry with Elements Guiding
  • Watch the joy with which a sled dog greets the snow with a half day dogsledding adventure at Winterdance.
  • Stop for a hot and hearty lunch at Maple Avenue Tap & Grill; their Haliburton Hungryman will keep you fueled up for a full day outdoors.
  • Wander through the snowy world of Haliburton Sculpture Forest to see outdoor art and appreciate winter at the same time.
Haliburton County
From Toronto: 215km • 2 hr 55 min From Ottawa: 285km • 3 hr 15 min

In addition to its' stunning scenery, Haliburton is home to a thriving arts community.  With plenty of galleries dotting the countryside, a must-visit is the renowned Haliburton Sculpture Forest, a unique outdoor collection of sculptures by Canadian and international artists.

Time Spent Here: Plan for at least a half day in Haliburton, or more depending on what experience you choose.

End Your Day: Eagle Lake

When the shadows start to lengthen, make the short, 15-minute drive north from Haliburton to Sir Sam’s Inn & Spa and Sir Sam’s Ski & Ride, both of which are tucked on the shores of Eagle Lake.

  • Hit the slopes at Sir Sam’s Ski & Ride (book ahead through their website) for a few runs before the sun sets.
  • Check in to your room at Sir Sam’s Inn & Spa and work out any kinks from your outdoor activities with a tour of the spa’s water circuit.
  • Gourmet food from the on-site Twin Fires restaurant will warm you from the inside out or you can also try Rhubarb on the Hill right at the mountain.
Eagle Lake
Haliburton County
From Toronto: 266km • 2 hr 52 min From Ottawa: 298km • 3 hr 30 min

With a rich history in the Haliburton Highlands area, Sir Sam's Ski/Ride is every adventure's dream in both the summer and winter.  This picturesque ski hill overlooking Eagle Lake is perfect for mountain biking for every skill-level, with a walk-on, walk-off covered lift perfect for beginners.  You can ride, run, or hike over 100 acres of ancient Canadian Shielf and hardwood forest.

Time Spent Here: Unwind and relax for the rest of your day knowing the great white north will still be waiting for you the next morning. Plan for an hour in the water circuit at the spa.

Start Here: Eagle Lake

Waken late for a leisurely breakfast or get up early and hit the slopes for a few more runs before checking out of the inn.

Time Spent Here: Plan to get on the road by noon.

Next Stop: Madoc

Head southeast towards Madoc and enjoy the scenery of snow covered roads flanked by towering evergreens. Your route will take you through the small town of Bancroft, the perfect spot to stop for a bite to eat for lunch.

Hastings County
From Toronto: 210km • 2 hr 30 min From Ottawa: 195km • 2 hr 20 min

A trip to Madoc isn't complete without a stop to the Hidden Goldmine Bakery for a delicious cinnamon roll or butter tart.  Get a flavour for Madoc's gold rush history at this quaint bakery nestled on the historic main street.

Time Spent Here: You could make the drive from Eagle’s Lake to Madoc in just a couple of hours, but take your time! This is a marathon, not a sprint. Get outside and stretch your legs along the way.

End Your Day: Sharbot Lake

You’re almost there! The drive from Madoc to Sharbot Lake is quite short, less than an hour, and you’ll be rewarded when you reach the cozy inn where you will be spending the night.

  • Check in to Rockhill Bed & Breakfast and say hello to your hosts, Greg and Arlene and settle into your room.
  • Say hello to your fellow guests at a wine and cheese reception.
  • Make the short walk from the bed and breakfast down to Cardinal Café to pick up a hot drink and sweet or savoury treat.
  • Wander over to the community beach to see Sharbot Lake up close. Pro tip: bundle up! The wind coming off the lake can be chilling.
  • Enjoy a delicious gourmet, home-cooked meal right at Rockhill Bed and Breakfast. Choose between a steak platter, honey curried chicken, or sweet potato coconut Thai curry (pre-ordering at least a day in advance required). 
Sharbot Lake
Frontenac County
From Toronto: 290km • 3 hr 20 min From Ottawa: 120km • 1 hr 35 min

Time Spent Here: You will need at least two hours to visit Cardinal Café and explore Sharbot Lake. Make sure you are back at the bed and breakfast in time for dinner!

Start (and end) Here: Rockhill Bed and Breakfast

You can linger in bed on day three! Greg and Arlette will cook you up a fantastic breakfast and be sure to dig in because you’ll need the energy for the day ahead.

What to Do:

  • After a hearty breakfast you will be ready to hit the trails! Listen closely during your trail orientation so you will be set for your snowshoe adventure.
  • Enjoy a trail-side catered lunch before hitting the trail again.
  • Enjoy yet another gourmet meal and warm your toes by the stone fireplace to cap off your day.

Time Spent Here: Plan to be on the trails for most of the day, but make sure you’re back at the bed and breakfast before dark.