Remember when you were a kid and the first snowfall brought so much excitement you could hardly wait to get outside? That excitement doesn’t have to end with adulthood, you just need to find the right experiences to surprise and challenge you, sending a tingling of excitement down your spine.
In Ontario’s Highlands, moments like this are found around every corner, and each experience is more than enough to make you fall in love with winter all over again.
Check out the list below for five chilly experiences that you’ll want to mark off your bucket list, and tell everyone about.
Ice Climbing Adventures
Whether you go by guide or with a gang of friends, this winter ice climbing is the latest activity to get adventure seekers outdoors. For those new to the sport, try a customized guided trip with Yours Outdoors, where you can take on the challenge of climbing a 50-foot man-made ice wall with the beauty of #MyHaliburtonHighlands as your backdrop. With experienced instructors on hand and safety equipment provided, nothing but the thrill of adventure will be on your mind. Afterwards, celebrate your icy feat with hot beverages in a warming hut.
If do-it-yourself ice climbing is more your style, head to the Madawaska Highlands or Calabogie areas for some of Ontario’s best and most scenic climbing. Or you can give yourself a warm introduction to ice climbing by attending the Southern Ontario Ice Festival (SOIceFest) first weekend in February in Maynooth. Warmer weather and salt run-off from encroaching urban development in southern parts of the province mean adventure seekers increasingly look further north for reliable conditions, meaning the cliffs and crags of Ontario’s Highlands make for the perfect climbing destination year after year.
Dogsledding in Snow Country
Feel crisp snow mixed with soft fur as you become one with the pack and try your hand at mushing with Winterdance Dogsled Tours. Located on the doorstep of Algonquin Park, there’s nothing quite like a ride with 150 purebred Siberian Huskies on 5000 acres of private rugged wilderness. Book a tour with Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve and let their friendly Siberian Huskies share their excitement for the winter season along 300 km of trails before mingling with the dogs during a tour of the kennel.
Winter Yurts and Backcountry Skiing
Ontario’s Highlands’ ample Crown Land territory offers a rare opportunity in crowded southern Ontario – the chance to escape from it all. Visions of city skyscrapers and sprawling suburbs will fade into memory once you’ve arrived at one of our trails, ready to explore uncharted territory. Or choose to survey uninhabited pockets of pristine winter wilderness on a groomed trail by snowshoe or ski at Silent Lake Provincial Park. Here, you’ll find more than 40-kilometres of ready-for-you cross-country ski trails all accessible from the same entry point, including loops for all level of skiers and an eight-kilometre trail groomed especially for skate-skiing. Warm-up huts stocked with stove and firewood dot the trails, welcoming trail-goers seeking a place to rest and exchange adventure stories. When you’re done wandering the great outdoors at Silent Lake, fall fast asleep amidst the wondrous quiet of the woods, in a cozy, classic yurt (the park has 10!)
Recharge your batteries with high-energy adventure, found around every nook and cranny in Ontario’s Highlands. Quench your need for speed from the front seat of a roaring snowmobile, weaving the groomed trails of Haliburton Forest & Wildlife Reserve or make fresh tracks riding past frozen lakes, sparkling forests and farmland on the Hastings Highland Tour anticipating each new discovery behind every bend of terrain.
Photo Credit: Winterdance Dogsled Tours