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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Muskoka is a winter wonderland



   One-Tank Trip for Feb. 28/15

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Have you had enough winter this year?
   Well, it’s never enough for visitors to the four-season playground of Muskoka, north of Toronto.
   “Muskoka has long been considered a summer destination, but we are getting more and more recognition for being a top winter destination,” said Jordan Mulligan, marketing manager with Muskoka Tourism.
Pond hockey is called the “epitome of a genuine Muskoka winter experience.” (Muskoka Tourism)
    “For those that dread winter, they head south for a getaway. For those that love winter and all of the experiences that come with it, they head to Muskoka.”
   With the area having “tons of snow and winter activities,” this is the place for anyone looking for “an authentic Canadian winter experience.”

   Putting winter on ice
   The tourism office has compiled a Top 10 list to “Take Back Your Winter in Muskoka.”
There’s no shortage of ice and snow at Deerhurst Resort in Muskoka. (Barbara Fox photo)
   - Ice Skating Trail: The Arrowhead Provincial Park attraction is called “one of the most hyped and popular winter attractions in Muskoka this winter.”

   It’s a 1.5-kilometre ice skating trail that winds through the forest, less than five minutes from downtown Huntsville.
   - Apres: It’s often “the best part” of winter activities, originating from the term apres ski.
   Muskoka likes to add apres to all winter activities because “it gives us an excuse to cozy up by the fireplace, sip on a hot specialty coffee or glass of wine and enjoy some snacks.”
   - Winter Crafts: Check out the seasonal beers from local craft breweries.
   Muskoka Brewery, with its Winter Beard, a double-chocolate cranberry stout, and Lake of Bays Brewing, featuring Old North Mocha Porter, offer tours and sampling.
Get your motor running for snowmobiling on Muskoka's vast trail system.
   - Gone Sleddin': Muskoka's vast trail system has some of Ontario’s favourite tracks, stretching from the shores of Georgian Bay to the snow-covered pines on the outskirts of Algonquin Park.
   There are more than 1,200 kilometres of groomed trails and unlimited touring opportunities.
   - Snowshoeing: The Muskoka back country is ideal for exploring on snowshoes through forests and the light, fluffy snow on the many trails.
   Some accommodations have snowshoes available for guests or they can be rented from local outfitters.
   - Skiing Cross Country: Winters in Muskoka bring ideal conditions for a longer cross-country skiing season.
   With up to five months of snow and a large variety of groomed trails, Muskoka attracts skiers from across the province.
   - Mush! Dogsledding Excursions: On you huskies for the thrill of the Arctic and one of the great Canadian winter experiences.
   Mush through the Muskoka wilderness behind a team of dogs on a guided sled excursion.
Go fish on a frozen lake in Muskoka for a family-friend outing.
   - Ice Fishing: You have to try it to appreciate it and this often “comes second” to spending quality time with friends and family.
   “Spending a day on the lake in the winter sun with hot chocolate (or other beverage) and good company is an excellent way to spend an afternoon in Muskoka.”
   - Pond Hockey: This is “Canadiana at its finest,” hearing the sound of your blades carving through the fresh ice of a frozen lake in the great outdoors. It’s called the “epitome of a genuine Muskoka winter experience.”
   - Downhill Skiing: Muskoka is home to Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area, home club of 2014 Olympic Gold Medalist Dara Howell.
   It offers great downhill skiing for all levels with 11 runs, a terrain park, kid’s camps, childcare, as well as ski and snowboard instruction and rentals.

   Giving winter the cold shoulder
   There are also the Top 5 Reasons You Should Sled in Muskoka starting with the obvious and necessary: “We've got the snow.”
Zoom, zoom
   Never a dull ride with spectacular views of frozen lakes surrounded by snow-clad hills, to winding trails sheltered by snow-covered evergreens is another.
   Then there’s the best snowmobile-friendly accommodations, many sledding events and fun, and that the area is only 90 minutes from Toronto.

   NEED TO KNOW
   For more information on a Muskoka getaway, stay and play packages, and March Break activities: www.discovermuskoka.ca; 1-800-267-9700
   There’s also the Muskoka Tourism Visitor Centre on Highway 11, two kilometres north of Severn Bridge.

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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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