By Kim Kerr-Dearsley
Just because the cottagers head south for the winter doesn’t mean Muskoka’s not worth visiting when it’s buried in snow. And we mean buried, as Muskoka boasts snowfalls of up to 18 ft or more once things turn cold. Thanks to this abundance of snow, there are no end of fun winter outdoor adventures and things to do in Muskoka when the temperature drops.
Skiers – cross-country, or Nordic, skiers in particular – are drawn to the region once the white stuff starts falling. Among the most popular destinations are Algonquin Park’s three trail networks. Designed specifically for cross-country skiers, the best routes include the Fen Lake and Leaf Lake ski trails (both of them regularly packed and groomed) and the more challenging Minnesing Wilderness Ski Trail (left as nature intended).
Downhill enthusiasts are well catered to as well, with skiers and snowboarders alike flocking to Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Resort. Boasting an average annual snowfall of some 318 cm and capable of handling 6500 skiers an hour on its 11 runs, highlights include a slope with a 100 m vertical drop and one that extends more than 580 m.
Muskoka just so happens to lie in the middle of Ontario’s extensive snowmobile network. As a result, more than 1,600 kms of trails crisscross the region, making it one of the most traversed snowmobile destinations anywhere. And for those who don’t own a machine of their own, many area marinas keep themselves busy in winter renting snowmobiles.
Also popular in Muskoka, dogsledding is now offered by a number of commercial operators, including at two locations in Algonquin (one on Highway 60 and one in the northwest section accessible from the village of South River on Highway 11).
For more details of skiing activities and other winter outdoor adventures in Muskoka, visit www.skihiddenvalley.ca.