Are you the type of person who squeals with glee upon seeing the first snowfall of the year? Have you had your skis or board sharpened, waxed, and ready to go since October? Or perhaps you’re new to this whole “winter adventure” thing but looking for a way to keep active and enjoy the outdoors. Either way, you might be surprised to find how many options there are for downhill skiing and snowboarding in Ontario’s Highlands that are well suited to both beginners and seasoned veterans.
Calabogie Peaks Resort, just over an hour west from Ottawa, welcomes snow-seekers of all calibers. At 238 metres, Calabogie’s Dickson Mountain has the highest skiable vertical drop in Ontario, and 24 trails that range from beginner to advanced. Beyond that, they also have multiple terrain parks and a ski/snowboard cross track so you can start practicing for the next Olympics. An added bonus: You can take a break to warm up and soak in some awesome views of the Ottawa Valley with a warm beverage at the summit’s cabin, Top Hut, and après-ski is made easy with the hotel and its enticing restaurants, like local favourite Canthooks, right at the base of the hill.
Even closer for the folks in Ottawa is Mount Pakenham, situated just minutes from the town of Pakenham in Lanark County. This is a great family-friendly ski hill which has the added benefits of a snow tubing run and well-lit night skiing. It’s a great day trip spot, or you can continue the fun by booking an overnight stay and enjoying the cuisine of nearby Almonte. It’s also a rite of passage for those who travel to Pakenham to indulge in one of Pakenham General Store’s gigantic cinnamon buns. You’ve earned it after all!
In the rolling hills of the Haliburton Highlands you’ll find Sir Sam’s, only 15 minutes north of the town of Haliburton. This picture-perfect location makes for a stunning view from the top, overlooking a frozen Eagle Lake. Unique to Sir Sam’s is a covered magic carpet lift, so you can find your way to the top without facing the wind’s harsh sting, and events like the annual Spring Splash. When spring comes knocking and it’s time to hang up the boots, Sir Sam’s throws a big party where brave souls end their run by barrelling into a giant pool of water, skimming along the surface and splashing spectators who dare come too close. Umbrellas optional!