We’ve had the first sightings of snowfall so we might as well sound the alarm: winter activity season has begun! Northeastern Ontario Tourism ran a contest asking residents to rank their favourite winter activities: from Manitoulin to Moosonee, they listed ice skating, snowshoeing, ice fishing, cross-country skiing and snow tubing as their first class rankings.
Northeastern Ontario, with its heaps of sparkling snow, unspoiled natural wonders and fabulous winter attractions is the perfect destination to embrace the magic of winter and get active. Make this season a great one with the coolest winter pursuits in Northeastern Ontario. Here are some of the region’s best:
1. Ice Skating
You don’t have to be Sidney Crosby to enjoy a good rip around the ice rink. Every town in Ontario has an indoor arena, of course. There’s something particularly special about lacing up your skates and gliding along the ice outdoors—skate on frozen ponds, lakes, skate trails, and provincial parks and take in the magic of old growth forests surrounding you.
The skate path at Science North in Sudbury is a perennial favourite for kids and grown ups. The Ramsey Lake Skating Path extends from McNaughton Terrace to Science North, providing 1.5 kilometres of skating fun.
Snowshoeing is the world’s fastest growing winter sport because it’s super easy to learn, it’s inexpensive, and it provides a great workout. Trek across frozen lakes, through glistening forests, or down scenic trails—the snowshoeing opportunities in Northeastern Ontario are limitless. If you have your own snowshoes, just strap them on and make your own trails through the backcountry. Or rent a pair and follow a groomed path.
Scenic Killarney Provincial Park has dedicated trails for unbeatable snowshoeing—it also has the added bonus of providing heated yurts to camp in. Why not make a weekend out of it? Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park and the neighbouring Canadian Ecology Centre also offer a great area to snowshoe. One hidden gem is Mashkinonje Provincial Park. It’s a protected nature reserve that stretches from the West Bay to the West Arm of Lake Nipissing. The area has over 30 kilometres of pristine wilderness to explore.
3. Ice Fishing
Winter anglers in search of perch, whitefish, lake trout, speckled trout, northern pike and walleye will be thrilled with the ice fishing prospects across Northeastern Ontario. North Bay’s massive Lake Nipissing attracts ice fishing newbies and enthusiasts from around the world. The legendary lake is loaded with fish—and they’re hungry! More than 2,000 ice fishing huts cover Lake Nipissing, creating the look of an ice fishing village, and the fabulous ice hut and bungalow operators in the area, like Fish Bay Marina, will keep you warm and cozy while you reel in your big catch. Ice bungalows can be outfitted with the comforts of home such as a propane furnace, cooking utensils, a table and chairs, bunk beds, heated private washrooms, and 10″ drilled holes.
A bit further north, Lake Temagami is another world-class ice fishing locale, known for its monster trout. The lake and its surrounding waterways are home to expert ice fishing charters and outfitters offering cabins and huts that are perfect for a day or overnight fishing trip. You can get everything you need—from fishing licenses, angling equipment and bait, to expert guides who will give you access to the best fishing spots that the lake has to offer.
4. Cross-Country Skiing
No longer the poor cousin of downhill skiing, cross-country skiing is recognized as one of the best total-body workouts around. Take in ever-changing scenic views of the wilderness while gliding at your own pace through backcountry or park trails. You can get up close and personal with winter wildlife like snowshoe hares, lynx and even moose. Northeastern Ontario is bursting with amazing cross-country ski spots, and here are just a few:
North Bay Nordic Ski Club offers an epic 50 kilometres of groomed trails for all to enjoy, including ski rentals. Killarney Provincial Park offers a gorgeous 30 kilometres of groomed classic ski trails in a backcountry wilderness setting. Porcupine Ski Runners near Timmins is one of the largest cross-country ski clubs in Canada, with 30 kilometres of scenic and groomed trails, some fully illuminated for night skiing. For picturesque routes along the shores of the Montreal River, visit the Elk Lake Eco Resource Centre. If you’re closer to the Mattawa-Bonfield area, check out the extensive trail system at Nature’s Harmony Ecolodge. Just strap on the skis and go!
Timmins often gets the first snow so why not make it your first place to enjoy it? Visit Kamiskotia Snow Resort for the snow adventure of your life! Here you’ll go careening down a 12 storey-high slope on a comfortable inflatable tube. Pick up some serious speed before ending the ride 900’ from where you launched. It’s the tallest tube slide ride in Ontario and it’s the perfect way to get your adrenaline pumping. This is one winter activity that requires minimal energy—the resort has a dedicated lift that takes you to the top where you start your descent. Night tubing passes are also available so you can get your snowy thrills after dark. So what are you waiting for?