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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Give a hoot, take a hike



   One-Tank Trip for March 9/13

   By Jim Fox

   It’s time to get into the great outdoors to perhaps start to say farewell to winter.
Titus Mountain Family Ski Center is the place for some Adirondack Mountains’ fun in New York State.
   Give a hoot
   March is the time for an owl prowl in Ontario Parks as some of the critters are nesting and many will be hooting to proclaim their territories.
   It’s more likely to see or hear Barred, Great Horned and Screech owls in southern Ontario while farther north, Barred owls are more common with their “who-cooks-for-you” calls.
Owl sighting in Killarney Provincial Park. (Will Kershaw)
   Many provincial parks also have saw-whet owls and Presqu’ile is regularly visited by snowy owls from the far north.
   It’s best to plan an evening walk in an area with lots of cover at a time when it isn’t windy as owls don’t tend to call then.

   Hike, skate, ski
   Over this March Break week, there are plenty of other park options including hiking, skating, skiing, snowshoeing and waterfowl watching.
   As well, guided hikes and natural heritage activities are planned on weekends this month in numerous parks.
   At MacGregor Point Provincial Park on Lake Huron, northwest of London, break activities include guided day and night hikes and an ice-skating trail through the woods.
   The park has 16 eight-sided, heated yurts (tent-like structures) for overnight winter camping, also available at six other parks.
   Arrowhead Provincial Park near Huntsville has cross-country skiing and snowshoe trails as well as an ice-skating course through the woods lighted at night by torches, a tubing hill and skating rink.
Skiers enjoy accommodation in a yurt at Algonquin Provincial Park. (Ontario Parks photo)
   Bronte Creek Provincial Park in the Oakville- Burlington area has a Maple Syrup Festival weekends this month and during the break from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
   There are pancakes and maple syrup, a maple taffy station, park trails and a children’s farm and play barn.
   At Lake Huron’s Pinery Provincial Park, there are naturalist-led hikes every weekend while the toboggan hill is lighted at night and open daily, weather permitting.
   There’s plenty of winter left for tubing. (Ontario Parks)

   Swan spotting
   The Wings of Spring Migration Festival, marking the return of the tundra swans and waterfowl, happens March 16 and 17 at Rondeau Provincial Park on Lake Erie near Chatham.
   This is said to be the “first true sign” that spring is just around the corner and offers viewing stations, a birdhouse building workshop, artisans displaying their wares and a barbecue. rondeauprovincialpark.ca
   There’s the Waterfowl Weekend at Presqu’ile Provincial Park near Brighton on Lake Ontario also on March 16 and 17.
   Expect to see “tens of thousands of ducks, geese and swans” representing 25 different species en route to nesting areas farther north, said chief naturalist David Bree. friendsofpresquile.on.ca
   The tundra swans star in the Return of the Swans Festival at the Lambton Heritage Museum, south of Grand Bend, this weekend through to March 31.
   About 15,000 of the majestic birds touch down annually in the wetlands and fields to feed and rest on their 6,500-kilometre journey to the Arctic from Delaware’s Chesapeake Bay.
   A favourite spot is the Thedford Bog behind the museum where they’re joined by ducks and geese. returnoftheswans.com; 1-800-265-0316

Viamede Resort near Peterborough offers winter activities including skating and cross-country skiing.
   Take a break
   Viamede Resort offers winter activities, from skating and cross-country skiing, or simply relaxing in a hot tub or by the fire.
   Publicist Valerie Stachurski said there is a March Break getaway package to the resort on Stoney Lake, north of Peterborough.
   From March 14 to 17, it includes passes to the Nordic Ski Club and Buckhorn Maple Festival, hiking, snowshoeing, playing snow Frisbee golf and “relaxing in the hot tub and sauna.”
   Priced from $450 for three nights with daily breakfasts and a $100 credit for a summer stay, there’s also the resort’s acclaimed fine-dining Inn at Mount Julian. viamede.com; 1-800-461-1946

   Adirondack getaway
   There’s plenty of winter action at the “new” Titus Mountain Family Ski Center in the Adirondack Mountains in Malone, N.Y., southeast of Cornwall.
   Publicist Rick Dodge invites Ontarians to come on down to enjoy the three mountains, 42 trails and glades, 10 lifts, two lodges and a 2025-foot (617-metre) summit.
   There is also a snow tubing park, centre for the “special needs of beginners” and the recently renovated main lodge, with ski, hotel and dining packages available. titusmountain.com; 1-800-848-8776
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Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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