Plan Your Winter Escape on Snowshoes, Skis or Snow Cleats

by | Jan 11, 2022 | Other

These easy day trips on the trails in Northeastern Ontario will turn winter blues into beautiful memories.

What makes winter the most spectacular season in the North? The forest and lakes turn into a magical winter wonderland with wild snow formations, delicate hoarfrost, and spectacular icy shorelines. If you want to get away from the crowds, there’s no better time for an outdoor adventure in Northeastern Ontario.

This year, catch the sunrise on the trail, be the first to break in the tracks and watch the frost melt as the day grows warmer. Bonus: the early riser has plenty of time for hiking before dark! These seven areas offer trails for all experience and fitness levels. So choose one of our welcoming communities for your homebase and find a cozy spot to stay, then venture out on an easy-access day trip to explore the stunning winter landscape.

 

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Sturgeon Falls AKA Spruce Falls

25 km from Moonbeam – 120 km from Cochrane – 170 km from Timmins

Follow the snow-crusted Kapuskasing River on James Way (at the end of Kimberly Drive) and enjoy both of Lili’s Lookouts over the water on the way up to Sturgeon Falls Lookout. This rugged one-way trail (2.75 km) is part of the Rotary Club of Kapuskasing trail network. 

Alternatively, hike 3 km to the viewpoint on the tree-lined Sturgeon Falls Trail, a multi-use linear route located at the junction of Hemlock and Ash streets.

At the top of the falls you’ll be amazed by the stunning scenery. Stay a safe distance from the edge – the rocks may be icy, and snow can create the illusion of solid ground!

When your cheeks start to tingle from the cold, visit Back to the Grind Coffee House in Kapuskasing for a delicious coffee or a hot chocolate topped with whipped cream while you wait for your meal – or just desserts. No judgement here.

Hersey Lake Trails

7 km from Timmins – 15 km from Porcupine – 100 km from Cochrane

Choose your level of winter challenge on Hersey Lake Conservation Area trails, from groomed walking trails to hiking and snowshoeing paths. Enjoy the changing terrain as you wind your way to multiple lookouts, around numerous lakes, across boardwalks and meander through Jack Pine forests.

These trails connect to the 55 km non-motorized Timmins Recreational Trail Network. Lucky for you, major route intersections have signage with distances and directions to locations throughout this trail system!

After building up a hunger, head to the diner-style restaurant McIntyre Coffee Shop in Schumacher; they still prepare food the old-fashioned way. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, their generous portions will more than satisfy big appetites.

Devil’s Rock

16 km from Temiskaming Shores – 57 km from Temagami – 110 km from Kirkland Lake

Discover a trek through the forest that will lead you to the 300-foot Devil’s Rock cliff in Temiskaming Shores. From atop this 2,200 million-year-old cliff is an expansive view of Temiskaming Lake, and on a nice day, clear across the ice to Quebec’s hilly countryside.

Your adventure begins at a signed, small unplowed lot, south of Cobalt on Highway 567. Snow and ice conditions will be a challenge, but the 2 km hike uphill has little elevation gain, so you’ll be treated to a relatively easy journey.

Once winter’s embrace gets too cold, drive to Chat Noir Books in New Liskeard. Their takeout bar has everything from espresso to lattes, specialty flavours and hot chocolate. Don’t forget to add some baked goodies to your order!

Mashkinonje Provincial Park

40 km from West Nipissing – 80 km from North Bay – 100 km from Sudbury

Get ready to break in the path at Mashkinonje Provincial Park! From Blandings Access, start the Samoset Loop (2 km) through Jack Pine forests, along granite ridges and snowy swamplands.  If you’re looking for a longer hike, you can access 30 km of interconnected trails from Blandings. The picturesque scenery will reward your efforts.

Another way to explore this park is the Loudon Peatland Trail (2.9 km), north of Blandings Access. This easy loop traverses mixed forests and frozen wetlands. Follow the linear side trail (+1.6 km roundtrip) to the lookout tower and treat yourself to a magnificent view of The Loudon Basin Peatlands.

 

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Finish off your trip at Twiggs Coffee Roasters, with locations in Sudbury, West Nipissing, or North Bay for richly flavoured coffees that are roasted in-house. Don’t forget to bring home some fresh baked goods, too!

Bebamikawe Memorial Trail

20 km from Manitowaning – 55 km from Little Current –  176 km from Sudbury

There’s a hidden gem on Manitoulin Island: the Bebamikawe Memorial Trail. In Wiikwemkoong, park at the end of Beach Road and walk up the connector path to explore the trail system. 

The Warrior’s Trail Loop (4.4 km), is a hike through a beautiful wintery setting, with a historic site: the Neganegijig Homestead, and two lookouts along the way. The first is a panorama of the North Channel; a historical trading route, the La Cloche Mountains; a sacred place for the Anishnaabek, and the Georgian Bay. The second vista is the Nadweh Lookout, with an incredible view of the Traditional Fishing Lands of the Anishnaabek, used to harvest whitefish.

The Three Fires Trail Loop (4.3 km), has more viewpoints over Manitoulin’s snowy landscape and icy waters and will bring your total hiking distance to 9.2 km, if you complete both loops.

To see winter’s icy grip on Lake Huron’s frozen shoreline, return to the parking lot to connect to the Fitness Trail. It’s an easy 1.5 km loop, with a side path down to Smith Bay.

If the crisp and cold winter winds have frozen your digits, head to Manitowaning to wrap your hands around a “A liquid hug for your brain,” at Loco Beanz. While warming up, order a fresh pizza, but if you’re running low on time, try a selection from their Grab-n-go section.

 

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Corbeil Conservation Area Trail

8 km from Callander – 15 km from North Bay – 50 km from Mattawa

Tour the unique ecological features of a forest shaped over time on the 3.4 km Corbeil Conservation Trail with eleven interpretive signs about changes since the last ice age.

Discover a pioneer forest dominated by Aspen and Birch, the first trees to grow after a forest fire. See rock formations created by the glaciers’ retreat, walk through the Red and White Pine forest, cross boardwalks over frosty wetlands, ending the loop where you started; at LaVase River’s frozen floodplain.

 

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On your way back to North Bay, make sure to stop at the Opera Bakery Cafe in North Bay. Have a specialty coffee, dig into a sandwich, or better yet, a nice hot soup to warm the soul. You’ll be singing their praises.

 

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Eau Claire Gorge Conservation Area

22 km from Mattawa – 52 km from North Bay

An “easy-to-do experience” is the 1.9 km interpretive trail at Eau Claire Gorge Conservation Area. Follow an old logging river route and learn about the area’s natural and settler history. See the historic log slide and dam, visit the rebuilt logger’s cabin, and take in a most impressive sight: the Eau Claire Gorge itself. 

Nature puts on a spectacular show; the Amable du Fond river cascades through the gorge from high rocks, falling into churning rapids and more waterfalls downriver. The ice formations here can be spectacular.

 

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After a big day hiking in the snow, there’s nothing better than a home-cooked meal made by someone else. At Myrt’s Family Restaurant in Mattawa, the hearty meals they serve will warm your belly and fill you up.

 

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Safety Tips for your winter adventures:

  1. Ice can be unpredictable – do not venture out onto unfamiliar frozen bodies of water.
  2. Layer up – because “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” – Scandinavian saying
  3. Winter exploration is more challenging than summer, and weather and trail conditions can slow you down. Make sure you start your adventure with enough time to enjoy the trek – at least 30% longer than you’d give yourself on a summer day.

Don’t hibernate this winter. Go out there and have some fun! Grab your gaiters and pack your snow cleats, nordic skis or snowshoes before hitting these trails in Northeastern Ontario.

 

Disclaimer: Due to current Covid-19 restrictions, restaurants are only open for take-out and delivery.

About Heidi Csernak

Heidi is a nature photographer who fell in love with Northeastern Ontario’s wild charms after her first time exploring the region. She likes to wander the trails at a snail’s pace, enjoys birdwatching - and lets the current carry her kayak to watch the scenery passing by. Fun Fact: Heidi has an insatiable hunger for hamburgers.

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