Trail News

Which Ski Resorts are Open Early?

Let it snow, let snow, let it snow…as the Christmas tune would go…and it is!

And the start of our 2019 -2020 winter sports season has indeed started early. Very early and Nordic ski resorts and parks have been caught off guard. (and even myself updating this site)

Typically, cross-country and skate skiers + snowshoe fans expect to play in the white stuff perhaps by the end of December. Even when I go to Sudbury every Christmas nothing is officially open till January. (but I ski anyway)

So this winter in the city of Toronto, there was a base to try your “rock skis” as early as mid-November. I could have (should have) but my mindset was just not ready. And after looking at many club websites today, neither are many of the Nordic locations in Ontario.

Info on the true status of trail conditions has always been sketchy and this continues as a number of resorts have posted Facebook or Twitter announcements that they are open and welcome us, but their official websites still post them as closed (!?).

So please do your due diligence to sort out what the current status is, as it is ever-changing as we rely on the weather. No snow is made for this sport, only nature can provide. Though if the snow base melts a bit or rain damages it, groomers can resurface the base when the weather is favourable to do so.

Part of running a resort/Provincial Park/ski club location is planning your staff, volunteers, budget and maintenance schedule far ahead for how long you predict the next winter season will be. (Much like a farm has to plan and guess ahead of time.)

This season the first snow arrived early. It could all melt away in a week, but I looked at the weather forecast for the next 2 weeks and more snow with temperatures around or below 0C will keep us going.

I know some trails are open, but others have yet to be cleared of fallen trees and branches. Bringing on paid staff this early and at short notice certainly has kept a few places still closed that I expected open. (Maybe till the new year.)

We have had 4 years of little snow, and a very short pitiful season. (Thanks to global warming?) So perhaps this makes up for it and we will get the opposite. Having lived in Ontario for many years my amateur weather senses seem to see 5 year cycles.

Before this drought in snowfall and warmer winter weather, which lasted the past 4 years, did we not have a very cold period before that, for 5 previously chilly years??

Regardless, make the most of this early snowfall, wax those skis and hit them trails!

 

Who is open? (as of Dec. 28th, 2019):

Ontario Parks – most closed, sad but true

Albion Hills – closed

Mansfield – open January 10th 2020 (snow dependant)

Horseshoe – open thin base granular

Hardwood – open limited, groomed, fast and icy – New Chalet opens today!

Highlands Nordic – open, thin base 10 km

Scenic Caves Nordic – closed icy wet base

Ganaraska – not enough snow

Kawartha – open, limited trail

Capreol – closed due to rain warm temps

Windy Lake – open, conditions are good, use caution on red trail

Walden – open, icy granular base

Wesley Clover – closed, little snow in the Ottawa area

 

And head to our main page for updates on Snow Conditions.

 

Below is a Weather Map that shows the current snow base in Ontario. Click anywhere on the map and a flag will show you the snow depth in that location. Keep in mind that areas with lots of evergreen trees may not have all the snow on the ground. Some may be still stuck in the branches.

Also try other settings on the right to sort out the current and future ski conditions before you make plans.

Current Snow Depth

December 7, 2019 / 1 Comment / by / in ,
Free Nordic Trail Chart

Get Your Free Nordic Trail Reference Chart

 

Last year I got thinking that it would be very handy for Nordic skiers and Snowshoe folks to have something they could refer to when looking to go out somewhere new and play in the snow.

Sure you can come to this site and surf for ideas, but what if you also had a condensed list of all the trails as a starting reference.

After much thought and many hours labouring, I think I’ve put together a decent list of all 30+ trails on this site, in a quick to read format. This PDF file can be saved on your phone, desktop or printed out as reference.

 


Here is What is Listed on the Chart :

page 1

Trail Number – number matches the approximate location on the map on page 1.

Trail Name – common name for this resort, club, forest or woodlot. Links to ontarioskitrails.com webpage with full review

Location – general location in Ontario of trails. Some trail spots do not have exact addresses; refer to OST website maps

X-Country km – total kilometres of cross -country, track set ski trails
Skate Ski km – total kilometres of groomed skate skiing trails
Snowshoe km – total kilometres of designated, signed snowshoe trails (often you can do more)

Skill Level – which levels – Easy, Intermediate, Advanced, at this location are best suited, safe and fun for a skier. All Levels – there is enough trail for every skill level to enjoy.  Note this rating is not based on distance.

Adult Pass – fee (if any) to ski for the day for one adult on the weekends; snowshoeing may be less

Chalet – warming hut, cabin or chalet, to rest, eat lunch, perhaps change and warm up, (some are not open weekdays)

Food – food and water available – snack bar, cafeteria

Rentals – can rent gear to try out Nordic skiing or snowshoeing

Lessons – can take lessons to learn technique (local clubs may offer their own lessons)

Pro Shop – sells wax, skis, boots, clothes and accessories


 

To get this free Nordic Trail Chart, click on one of the 3 purple buttons Cross Country, Skate ski or Snowshoe the  box in the margin on the left or below if viewed on a phone.

Tell us what kind of winter sport you favour. This right away tells us what type of activity you like and we will taylor our newsletters in the future for you. Yes you need to subscribe to our newsletters to get the freebie.

Next check your email inbox for one of those confirmation emails so that I know you’re a real person (who likes winters). Once you’ve done that, you will be taken to a webpage with the PDF link.

Now I encourage you to stay subscribed to the newsletter because with each new issue I will have a link to an updated version of this chart.

Currently I have yet to publish my first newsletter as other things have been more of a priority as the email list builds. Site development, trail scouting and posting reviews.

Busy as I am, there will be one soon and after that there might be one monthly. Truly I do not what to spam or publish junk emails so it will depend on what valuable content I have to pass on to you.

In the future I have plans on perhaps publishing an Ebook of these trail reviews with my own maps, photos. Or even a paperback book of this site. If such a book would be of interest to you, send me a note to encourage me on.

And it goes without saying, if you think of improvements/changes for this list , I am listening, contact me.

 

Have pleasant outings, see you on the trail – Dan Roitner

March 2, 2018 / 2 Comments / by / in ,
My Cell Phone is Lost in the Snow

Snow may be our friend to ski on, but I was just reminded in a very real way last weekend that it can also be very good at hiding things

As I was trying out a new pair of skate skis on the skate loop at Albion Hills, I fell on a rather steep descent. At the bottom was one of those quick right turns, and I was not used to these new skis, blah, blah, excuses, excuses. There I went head over heels into the powder snow, with no damage except to my ego. Having almost done the splits (yikes) I rolled over in the snow to get up without popping my skies off. (very macho)

Taking a moment to dust myself off, I noticed my waist pack pocket was unzipped! Wallet check, power bar check, cell phone…No phone!?? OK not cool, where is it? Now the snow that day was a good 30cm (12 inches) of powder and the phone could not be found. With one ski I scraped the snow right down in the area of the fall – nothing!

What to do but head back on the trail I came, a 4 km path with 3 BIG hills. Perhaps somehow it had popped out along the way or I had left it at the chalet with my girlfriend. Nothin’…

OK re-grouped at the chalet, decided to borrow my gal’s phone to call myself when I get back to the spot I fell. I weighed the chances of finding it at 10%.

What were the chances that buried in the snow I would get a signal,
and I would hear it ring?

As well, my tracking app was still running and cold batteries die quickly. Tired…almost did not trek back. Should I write my phone off?



Well…off I went and the first thing was to find a shortcut to not suffer those damn hills four times. Made it back to the spot and as I was taking my skis off, I stepped on my phone, what luck! It was just a bit farther than where I had fallen.

The message was loud and clear from this incident.
You can lose stuff in the snow very easily and it can screw you up bad.

Losing a phone, car keys, glasses, wallet, mp3 player…can be a real headache.

So the next time you venture out into a winter wonderland, secure your valuables in zipped pockets (I have less faith in velcro) and have a backup plan. Backup your phone data, have a spare key under your car, with another ski buddy who also has cash and can drive if you get hurt. Ya that’s reminds me of another crazy story…LOL

btw still looking for “misplaced” house key hmmm … should I go back in the spring??

February 20, 2014 / by / in
A New Nordic Ski Map Site

Welcome Nordic Ski – Snowshoers of Ontario – Feb. 2014

I have skied in Ontario for more than 45 years and have come to like our winters. Hey you gotta do something with it! I started off as a kid learning downhill from a father who was one of the better skiers in Austria. It became apparent in my 20’s that Ontario is rather flat and good downhill is far away. I chanced to find a sale on cross-country skis one day and started finding spots closer to home to trek.

Years later, I joined clubs and did daytrip bus runs to ski resorts. At this point I have skied almost every spot on this nordic ski map site. Often I would look out the window and ask myself where to go this weekend for a ski. I hope to share on this site my knowledge and insight to help you make a good decision and get out too.

Where this site goes and how big it gets we will see. My wish would be to eventually get every nordic ski resort and worthy park trail on the map. Promoting and building a community of ski enthusiasts will be another goal.

Not only is Nordic skiing (classic cross-country and skate skiing) readily available to us, it’s cheaper and healthier than most winter sports, be it downhill or snowmobiling.

And I have included Snowshoeing, as it can be done at  most locations, and is a great way for many to get out of the city and hike through the wilderness.

Please bookmark and come back again when you need inspiration, incentive or directions to your next outing.

With the snow Ontario gets every winter, it offers great possibilities, so get out and ski those trails!

say hello if see me on the trail – Dan R.

at Hardwood Lookout

February 16, 2014 / 2 Comments / by / in
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