One of winter’s greatest pleasures – as well as one of the most accessible ones – is, without a doubt, winter hiking! Whether it be in snowshoes, through the woods, through the mountains, or near the water, the joy of hearing the snow crunch under our feet can only be rivaled by the magnificent views we can experience when doing this sport. Here are some of the best places for winter hiking in Quebec and Ontario.
During winter, between 1000 to 2000 white-tailed deer can be spotted near the lake at the Centre Touristique du Lac-Simon. And of course, as you may have guessed, hiking trails for the whole family give you the opportunity to go and see them for yourself. When renting a cabin, you even get your snowshoes for free!
In the Estrie region, Mount Orford National Park is ideal for winter trails for all levels. Ranging from 2.5 to 16 kilometers, some are more technical, while others are sled-accessible for the kids – and even lit up for special occasions!
At Jacques-Cartier National Park, 13 winter trails totaling close to 94 kilometers offer beautiful views of mountains, valleys, and rivers, in addition to heated rest stops for a little break or when you stop for lunch.
And if you’re headed all the way to the stunning Bas-St-Laurent area to walk through Bic National Park, you’ll experience spectacular views of the estuary. It’s good to know that this park is one of the places that offers free Ski-Vel – allowing individuals in wheelchairs access to a Nordic hiking experience.
At Presqu’île Provincial Park, the first thing you’ll notice is the ice accumulated along Lake Ontario that create ice volcanos, little icebergs and other magical phenomena. Winter is also the best season to spot a red fox, wild turkey, or river otter.
Planning a 1 or 2-night stay? After an afternoon of hiking at Lake Windy Provincial Park, you’ll definitely enjoy warming up in one of its four yurts – open all round.
Longing for the unknown? At Killarney Provincial Park, renowned for its pink quartzite ridges and sapphire-blue lakes, the parts of the park that are accessible only during winter are 33 kilometers of trails where you are invited to experience winter camping.
At Point Pelee National Park, a peninsula in Lake Erie is host to dozens of little animals. You can explore the trails and listen to the birds – close to 50 different species can be seen between December and May.
When planning out your hike, think about fitting in walking time according to season. During winter, with or without snowshoes, getting around is always longer and more tiring, due to snow and cold. Days are also shorter, and you don’t want to get caught walking too far out in the dark.
Finding your way can also get tricky when landmarks may be covered in snow. Remember to be safe and vigilant.
Speaking of safety, take the time to assess potential risks of the cold season. We’re not only talking about avalanches, but also holes that mav have been covered by snow and thus no longer visible upon first glace. A tree root may trip you up, and keep your eyes peeled for icy conditions as well.
It’s also crucial to stay hydrated – so an insulated bottle containing a warm beverage is a good idea (keep it in the bottom of your bag to avoid it becoming frozen). It’s more difficult to recognize thirst during the colder months, so be wary about this.
So you don’t forget anything!
To conclude, in addition to snowshoes and ice cleats, don’t forget to pack: an insulated bottle, healthy snacks (nuts, granola bars, dried fruit, dark chocolate), a change of clothes, headlamp, GPS or map, first-aid kit, satellite radio or cellular phone, camera, tissues, lip balm, and hand & foot heaters.
Winter hiking means technical clothing to keep you warm! In this regard, discover how to maintain your technical clothing to make it last – and go winter hiking year after year!