One-Tank Trip for Feb. 4-17
(c) By Jim Fox
For a cool getaway, numerous Ontario Parks are open for winter activities such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
At this time of year, the air is crisp and invigorating and the forest is hushed in the 19 provincial parks that offer more than 450 kilometres of trails.
Half of all trails are groomed or track set and many include warm-up shelters and washrooms.
In all, there are 26 provincial parks open during the winter with services and facilities ranging from day use to front and back country camping and roofed accommodation.
|A gaggle of cross-country skiers for the Sleeping Giant Loppet on March 4. (Ontario Parks photos)|
Some of the parks also offer equipment rentals and skating.
Ontario Parks provides the following examples of the wintry fun:
- Wasaga Beach Provincial Park. This well-known summer retreat is also a fun cold-weather destination, too.
There are 30 kilometres of ski trails groomed every morning before dawn, with trail loops for every level of skier.
As well, there is a designated 10-kilometre snowshoe trail and ski and snowshoe rentals are available from the Wasaga Nordic & Trail Centre.
For anyone in the area tonight (Feb. 4), a Moonlight Ski is planned from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
- Algonquin Provincial Park. Cross-country skiers can’t get enough of the Leaf Trail Network.
Located near the park's East Gate, trails range from five to 45 kilometres in length and are groomed or track set and rated easy to very difficult.
Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy in one of the heated shelters, with washrooms located along the trails.
For snowshoeing, try one of the interpretive trails along Highway 60 while the Old Railway Trail is popular with winter “fat” bikers.
|“Fat biking” with oversize tires in Algonquin Provincial Park.|
Algonquin is holding its Winter in the Wild Festival on Feb. 18 on the Ontario Family Day weekend.
- Frontenac Provincial Park. Located north of Kingston, this park is a “snowshoe-lover’s dream.”
Doe Lake and Arab Lake Gorge loops and Bufflehead are trail favourites, with snowshoe rentals available from the park’s visitor centre.
- Windy Lake Provincial Park. Further afield, this park is called one of Ontario’s “best-kept secrets” when it comes to cross-country skiing.
Located an hour west of Sudbury, there’s plenty of snow, lots of sunshine and a trail network that’s one of the best groomed in the park system.
Another attraction for weekenders is the park’s cozy trailside yurts (eight-sided, heated tent-like structures with wooden floors) for overnight stays.
|Enjoying the fresh air and cross-county skiing in Ontario Parks.|
- Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. This is the place to “treat yourself to an unforgettable week of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing,” an hour east of Thunder Bay.
There are 50 kilometres of groomed ski trails along with plenty of snowshoe trails to explore.
Visitors can stay in one of the park’s newly refurbished cottages, with three bedrooms and fully equipped kitchens.
Hit the ice
Skating is available at Algonquin (Mew Lake) and Pinery parks on large outdoor rinks.
There are “unique skate trails” along campground roads at MacGregor Point and Arrowhead, with skate rentals available.
Cross-country ski rentals are available at Arrowhead, Pinery, Wasaga Beach and Windy Lake parks.
Snowshoe rentals can be found at Arrowhead, Frontenac, Killarney, Pinery, Wasaga Beach and Windy Lake.
For a complete list of winter parks, visit ontarioparks.com/winter. The latest snow and trail conditions are available at ontarioparks.com/skireport.
Snow in Waterloo Region
The winter fun’s at Chicopee Tube Park in Kitchener, speeding down a snow-covered hill in an inflatable tube and snowboarding.
|Winter fun at Chicopee Tube Park in Kitchener. (Chicopee photo)|
Chicopee’s Ski Resort offers many hills for beginners to ski pros and lessons are available.
Among the events is Febtoberfest, for a “little taste of Oktoberfest” on Feb. 11 and 12. There will be music, an Oktoberfest menu, keg tapping and more.
Family Day Weekend activities from Feb. 17 to 20 offer fun on the slopes, including fireworks on Feb. 19 at 9:30 p.m. chicopeetubepark.com/index.html; discoverchicopee.com
Waterloo Public Square holds a Family Fun Skate on Feb. 11from noon to 4 p.m.
The theme is Love Birds and participants are asked to “come dressed as a bird” or something to do with love and Valentine’s Day.waterloo.ca/en/living/Family-Fun-Skate.asp
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com
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