Come Wander
Snowshoeing in the Ottawa Valley

Regardless of whether you actually like winter or not, no one can deny how beautiful things look covered in a fresh blanket of snow. As I write this, I am snuggled in front of the fire in a cozy cabin at the Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve in the Haliburton Highlands. It’s snowing outside and I can’t wait to see what kind of winter wonderland I will be greeted with in the morning.

You see, I love winter. I get excited for the first snowfall. And the second. And the third. And even the 50th. As long as it’s not in May. It should never snow in May.

I also get excited for the change in activities and experiences from the previous three seasons. Even though I may be exploring some of the same locations, I’m experiencing them in a whole different way – indoors and outdoors. And the Ottawa Valley has a pretty amazing collection of winter experiences. No matter what type of Wanderer you are there is something for you.

As paddlers, we are on the water a lot. Sometimes even during winter if we can find open water! But what I love about the frozen lakes and rivers is the opportunity to strap on a pair of skates. We are blessed with an abundance of lakes and rivers (over 900) so there is no shortage of opportunities for pond hockey or skate dates. A new addition to the winter skating opportunities is a 1.5km skate trail located just outside of Pembroke in Laurentian Valley. Although I didn’t have an opportunity to get there last winter, it’s on this winter’s bucket list.

My husband and I are what you call “slednecks”. We love to snowmobile. There’s nothing better than zipping through the forest along abandoned logging roads or single track trail over classic Canadian Shield. With over 2,500 kms of groomed OFSC trails throughout the area that connect to other regions of Ontario’s Highlands and beyond, there is no shortage of sledding to do. Personally, I love packing up for a weekend sled trip. You ride all day exploring the backcountry and neighbouring communities and then tuck in to a cozy hotel, lodge or lakeside cabin for the night.

If you are looking for a multi-day ride, the RAP (Round Algonquin Park) Tour is an 850 km self-guided tour around Algonquin Provincial Park. Known as the Grand Daddy of snowmobiling tours in Ontario, it is a ride that every sledder should have on their bucket list. Snowmobile-friendly accommodators and eateries dot the trails along the entire way so you know you will be treated right.

Wandering Tip: Mark your calendar for the Bonnechere Cup taking place February 15-17, 2019 to catch the best in ice oval racing.

When we aren’t sledding, we’ll be on our snowshoes wandering what normally would be hiking or walking trails at any other time of the year. I love being out on the trails in winter because you get a completely different perspective. You can see further into the forest without any leaves on the trees and the change in terrain is so much more obvious.

Shaw Woods is one of our favourite spots to go. The trails vary in difficulty and length and all have excellent interpretive signage along the way. It’s also dog-friendly which, for our four-legged fur baby is a bonus. Other excellent spots for snowshoeing, as well as cross-country and skate skiing, and even fat biking, include Opeongo Hills Nordic Ski Club, Forest Lea Trails and Silver Spoon Trails.

Wandering Tip: If you are looking to challenge yourself, sign up for the Opeongo Loppet, Silver Spoon Ski-Fest or Wendigo Fatbike Ultra.

If you prefer to ski vertically, then the Valley has you covered there as well. Calabogie Peaks Resort is home to Ontario’s highest public vertical at 780 ft (take that Blue Mountain!) and also offers snow parks complete with rails, moguls and a ski/board cross track. As a full service resort, you can also enjoy après-ski activities at Black Donald’s Pub and Canthooks Fine Dining Restaurant, not to mention relaxing in the outdoor hot tub. Yes please. If you are looking to refuel between runs, stop in at the Top Hut located at the top of Dickson Mountain.

Wandering Tip: Be sure to sample the Bees Skis honey blonde ale made from the resort’s own honey.

Other area ski hills to round out the mix include Mount Pakenham and Mount Martin. But I would be remiss if I left out Mount Molson – the little mountain that could with the world’s shortest downhill at 120 vertical feet. True story.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for winter adventures. Bring on the snow!


Go Backcountry

You waken slowly in the early morning, the high-pitched warble of birdsong drifting lightly through the trees overhead. The sky is faintly brightening with the coming of dawn, and the natural world is gradually blossoming to life. Around you there is no trace of human activity, no murmurs of voices, clanging of dishes, or whir […]

An Ode to Summer

A throwback to summers gone past, with inspiration for this year’s adventure.

Just Show Up

Hit the water and take advantage of these easy kayaking and canoeing opportunities in Ontario’s Highlands.

Highway 7 Hikes

Stretch your legs by exploring these nature hiking trails along Highway 7.

Coming Home

Discover the story of Sarain Fox and her journey home to the Ontario’s Highlands, relieving memories of ice fishing and snowmobiling along the way.

Spring is Calling

Hanging around the city when the scents of spring are tantalizingly tickling your nose is tough. This is when you yearn to get away from the slush, pack the car and head out for an almost-spring getaway to the countryside, where baby animals, maple syrup, G-rated fun, and fresh air are calling. Get out of […]

Spring Break

The sun is warm, the air smells like spring, and the birds are singing their special warm weather songs. It’s official; spring has sprung. After a long Canadian winter, spring getaways are a time-honoured tradition for families here in the great white north, and haven’t we earned a little fun in the sun? This is […]

Winter Just Got Awesome

Learn to climb or brush up on your skills with an epic ice climbing adventure at SOIceFest 2020 in Maynooth, ON.

Ultimate Après-Ski Experiences

Meet up with friends after a day well spent on the slopes or on the trails. Discover these top places in Ontario’s Highlands to celebrate the Apres Ski!

Fall in Love With Winter

Unique winter experiences in Ontario’s Highlands that will give you something to brag about.

Climb a Wall of Ice

Challenge yourself to reach new heights with an ice climbing adventure at these places across Ontario’s Highlands.

Embrace the Dog Days of Winter

If you can’t beat winter, join it with an epic dog sledding excursion through some of the most beautiful forests in Ontario.

Cycle Through Fall

As cooler temperatures arrive and leaves change colour, discover these top places throughout Ontario’s Highlands to cycle in the fall.

The Best Fall Canoeing

Discover these top lakes and rivers in Ontario’s Highlands to discover the beauty of fall colours from a canoe.

3 Cheers for Mom

Discover ways to give a mom a Mother’s Day to remember, with gift ideas that go above and beyond.

Batter up!

Get a behind the scenes look into the world of baseball at Sam Bat.

Where Am I?

Climb to new heights at the Medeba Ice Wall and enjoy the unique view from the top.

Where Am I?

Make fresh tracks along premium snowmobile trail, the RAP Tour Loop.

Winter? Bring it!

Discover your love for the season with a classic Ottawa Valley winter.

One Last Ride

Watch JR Alli’s video and see what he discovers when he allows himself to just wander.

An Action-Packed Weekend

Read how Will Tang from Going Awesome Places raced muscle cars and experienced thrills on the rapids with whitewater raftering in the Ottawa Valley.

Whitewater Rafting as a Family

Read about how one family took on whitewater rafting on the Madawaska River and why they can’t wait to do it again.

The Freedom Finder

I’m a Freedom Finder. I wander with speed! I seek out opportunities to make fresh tracks, blaze new trails, and get my adrenaline pumping.

Where Am I

Explore the sweet moments and ageless beauty of Perth, Ontario.

Recharge in the Snow

Disconnect from the everyday with a snowmobile trip through Ontario’s Highlands.

All Terrain, All the Time

Pack your saddle bags and press the throttle for an ATV adventure like no other in Ontario’s Highlands.

Raging the Rapids

SUP Instructor Courtney Sinclair takes her passion for paddle boarding to the whitewater.

Hair-Raising Drives

Explore roads of Ontario with these drives that make you reach for your hairbrush.

Roads Worth Riding

Plan your next motorcycle ride along the hand-crafted roads of Ontario’s Highlands. Wind around vast lakes, to fill up on culinary delights, and converse with friendly locals.