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Winter fun awaits: The best winter activities to try in Northern Ontario

Winter is a magical time in Northern Ontario, where the snow-covered landscape transforms into a winter wonderland. From thrilling outdoor adventures to cozy indoor activities, there is something for everyone to enjoy during this season. Whether you’re a resident or visiting from afar, the snowy region of Northern Ontario offers endless opportunities for fun and excitement. 

This region is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts with plenty of snow-covered hills, snow-shoeing trails, and a giant frozen waterfall. So, bundle up, grab your mittens and experience the best winter activities in Northern Ontario. 

Explore snow-covered trails on a snowmobile

Driving snowmobile

Where: Elk Lake Wilderness Resort, 590 Hwy. 65, Elk Lake, ON   

Plan a cozy winter cabin stay at Elk Lake Wilderness Resort, and you’ll have convenient access to snowmobile trails. Spend the day soaring along fresh snow on various trail loops that lead to towns like Kirkland Lake and Temagami, or drive further to reach Timmins or Cochrane. Enhance your snowmobile package stay with a back-country excursion where an experienced guide will take you to abandoned mines and untouched snow.  

You can rent a snowmobile from Northern Sports and Rentals Inc. if you don’t have your own. With different vehicle options, book one for a single day or a whole week and have it delivered directly to the resort.   

Visit frozen waterfalls

View of Kakabeka Falls in winter. Ontario, Canada.
Wirestock | iStock

Where: Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park, Kakabeka Falls, ON   

Enjoy an easy nature walk year-round in Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park to reach the second-highest waterfall in Ontario. Viewing platforms and a boardwalk trail wrap around the top of the falls so you can admire this icy cascade from all angles.  

Bring your snowshoes to explore the Mountain Portage Trail loop if you’re up for a more strenuous winter adventure.   

Go dog sledding

joelclements | iStock

Where: Kaministiquia, Thunder Bay, ON  

Feel the wind on your face on snowy trails surrounded by lush evergreens as you go dog sledding. Experience this exhilarating and traditional mode of transportation with Boreal Journeys in Thunder Bay. There are different adventure options to pick from, including a half-day mushing or a 90-minute sledding sample. Bundle up and enjoy this unique Canadian winter experience.   

Race down a ski hill

ZargonDesign | iStock

Where: Laurentian Ski Hill, 15 Janey Ave., North Bay, ON  

Strap on your skis or snowboard for a day on the slopes. Stay on the beginner hill if you’re new to the sport, or avid skiers can soar down a mix of blue and black runs at Laurentian Ski Hill. Located just minutes from North Bay, this ski hill offers day rates, season passes, gear rentals and snow school lessons so you can get the most out of your winter day. Warm up with a bite to eat in the cafe found in the Lower Lodge.   

There are multiple other ski hills in Northern Ontario, including Loch Lomond in Thunder Bay, Adanac Ski Hill in Greater Sudbury and Mount Jamieson in Timmins (which also has snow tubing).   

Climb a wall of ice

Ice climber
rcaucino | iStock

Where: 169 Anten St., Thunder Bay, ON 

Outdoor Skills And Thrills offers half-day and full-day ice climbing adventures where you can enjoy winter from new heights. If you don’t have prior experience, they offer beginner’s ice climbing tailored to newbies. Helmets, crampons, axes, and everything else you need are provided as you learn the basics, safety skills, and belaying techniques.   

The company also has a winter skills course where you’ll learn how to build a snow shelter, along with winter survival tips.   

Glide down a skating trail

Ice climber | iStock

Where: Clergue Park Skating Trail, 10 East St., Sault Ste Marie  

Skate along the bank of St. Mary’s River in downtown Sault Ste Marie, admiring the icy waterfront view as you glide the one-kilometre trail. There are lights along the ice trail so you can skate after sunset, and typically, a warming hut.   

Other places to skate: No matter which city in Northern Ontario you’re visiting, North Bay, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Parry Sound or somewhere in between, there are free skating trails to glide along in the winter. Admire the city’s harbour from Thunder Bay’s rink at Prince Arthur’s Landing, enjoy one of the longest skating seasons in the province at the Jarnel Contracting Pavilion in downtown Kenora, or glide past evergreens on North Bay’s Lee Park Oval and Skating Trail, among other icy trails and rinks up North.    

Snowshoe or cross-country ski on groomed trails

cross country ski
Uwe Moser | iStock

Where: Kivi Park, 4472 Long Lake Rd., Sudbury, ON 

Enjoy a day at Kivi Park in Sudbury. Grab snowshoes to hit the 18 kilometres of main hiking trails, or prepare for a skiing adventure on 21.2 kilometres of groomed Nordic ski trails. The network of winter pathways can keep you busy all day long, with trail lengths ranging from one to more than five kilometres. Rentals, including fat bikes and skis, snowshoes, boots and poles, are available on-site.   

Keep the icy fun going by gliding along the park’s forested skating trail, Nina’s Way. The 1.3-kilometre path winds through snow-covered birch trees with glowing lights for twinkling nighttime skates. Keep cozy by an outdoor fireplace and soak in the atmosphere.   

Sleep under the stars and Northern Lights

Northern lights
wanderluster | iStock

Where: Killarney Provincial Park, 960 Highway #637, Killarney, ON 

Do you enjoy rustic evenings and having more secluded nature adventures? Consider winter camping at Killarney Provincial Park, where you can go snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. You’ll need a park permit for camping or a reservation if you plan to stay in roofed accommodation. If you don’t have camping experience or gear, renting the park’s rustic cabin or yurts is an excellent alternative. Accommodations have a fireplace or heater for warmth.   

Killarney Provincial Park is also a Dark Sky Preserve, meaning it’s an ideal spot to stargaze and hopefully catch the Northern Lights. The best time of year to spot the Northern Lights is between November and March when there are more hours of darkness and clear skies.   

Catch some fish through the ice

ice fishing
PamelaJoeMcFarlane | iStock

Where: 494 Calbeck Ave., Matachewan, ON  

Fishing season doesn’t need to end when the lakes are frozen over. You can go ice fishing on one of the numerous lakes in Matachewan, about 30 minutes from Elk Lake. Saul Outfitters will guide you to the best fishing spots with a wood-heated ice shanty. Transportation and firewood are included, and the guide will lead your group to a cozy hut to fish from and avoid the cold wind. You only need to bring your gear and food for the day. 

Bring your CAA Membership on the winter road trip

CAA Members can save wherever they adventure, and Memberships start from just $30 a year. Enjoy discounts when dining out on your road trip. You can view the list of 126,000 partner locations worldwide online. 

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