Winter Sports

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 ,
Ice Skating Trails in Ontario

Though I review winter trails on this site for skiing and snowshoeing, there is another type of winter trail sport on the rise, one on ice skates. Ice Skating trails are springing up everywhere in the province.

In the spirit of promoting winter outdoor activities, I think it is worth mentioning to any of you also interested in strapping on some blades and doing a circuit.

I must say I always found going around and around in circles doing pleasure skating on a hockey rink rather boring. In fifteen minutes I am done!

Now take recreational skating and make an ice path, well I’ll follow that.

And I think most of you agree, cause this concept is taking off.

I first saw this on the east side of Toronto at Greenwood Park at my son’s birthday party a few years ago. Though not long, the new L-shaped skate loop kept it interesting. All the kids had fun zipping in and out between the rocks.

Then last year I was skiing up at Arrowhead P.P. (photos below) and there among all of us enjoying the winter outdoors were skaters. Not on the local lake, but skating in the woods between the trees on a long flooded path they had made in the campgrounds. I had to take notice because it was busy with skaters enjoying the novelty.

Then yesterday my curiosity led me with family down to the Toronto harbour to check out the new Bentway skate trail. Here by the new Fort York entrance we found a weaving, refrigerated track among the pillars holding up the Gardiner Expressway. A wonderful idea to use dead space and even give it a roof if it rains.

You can find at the Bentway, skate rental, warming shelters (with blankets), and the required hot chocolate.Yum :^) All well lit and with music, there is also an outdoor lounge with warm cider and spiked drinks. There may be food trucks, though note there are a few restaurants close by.

A quick search in the province for similar ice skating trails came up with the following list for you to consider. Most are refrigerated paths here in the south. With our fluctuating weather this make conditions more predictable and the season last longer.

As always, check open hours as I have seen rinks closed due to staffing and budgets way before the weather melted it all away.

 




Where to Find Ice Skating Trails

 

in Toronto

The Bentway – Bathurst and Lake Shore Blvd.

Greenwood Park – 150 Greenwood Ave.

Col. Sam Smith  – 3145 Lake Shore W.

Dieppe Park  – 455 Cosburn Ave. (small)

NEW – McCowan District Park – 150 McCowan Rd, Scarborough

 

Other skating in Toronto on oval hockey rinks, indoors, outdoors, ponds  location, hours


Skating Trails in other parts of Ontario

(depending on conditions)

Richmond Green –  Richmond Hill

Chinguacousy and Gage Park – Brampton

Valens Lake – north of Hamilton

Storybook Gardens – London

Island Lake  – Orangeville

MacGregor Point – Port Elgin

Woodview – Collingwood

Discovery Harbour – Penetanguishene

Fern Resort  – Orillia

Simcoe Museum – Barrie

Arrowhead – Huntsville (gets busy, go early or weekdays)

Hanna Park –  Port Carling

Johnston Cranberry Marsh – near Bala

Memorial Park  – Bracebridge

Perth Outfitters – Perth (closed this year)

Trent Canal – Peterborough

Rideau Canal – Ottawa

Laurentian Valley – Petawawa area

River Oak – Ottawa area

 

I am sure there are others, please let me know…

 

And finally, why do we always skate counterclockwise; why that direction?

January 4, 2019 / 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 ,
Trail Tags

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