Make a trip just north of Toronto to find over 15km of easy trails to Cross-Country Ski or Snowshoe at the Eldred King Woodlands.
This is an old favourite of mine north of Toronto. It’s close by for people in the GTA, free, quiet and large enough to get your fill. No services or frills here, just a simple rustic setting with you, your skis and nature.
From the main large parking lot, the paths span out in all directions. I usually head down to the pond and return along the flat creek path. Then head south into the Hall Tract and loop around eventually back to the car park.
This wooded area is actually made up of a few forest tracts that sort of connect. (Please refer to the map.) They consist of old access roads that criss-cross in no real pattern.
The paths are wide enough to Skate ski, BUT no one grooms them. So it is best you bring your Classic cross-country skis to cut your own tracks. Perhaps there will be others there before you, so you can follow theirs. An easy ski if you are okay with tracks that are not perfect.
What you also get traversing the trails are a few hikers with their dogs (maybe even horses) which can leave footprints. This makes it wise to go there after a fresh snowfall when it is pristine.
Snowshoers will love this place as there are lots of side trails too small and twisty for skiing that you can stomp through. Those trails are not marked and will need a good eye to find. With the advent of Fatbikes, perhaps these trails may be in use which solves that problem.
Just don’t go stomping with snowshoes on the Nordic ski tracks. (But you know better.)
The terrain here is somewhat flat with moderate inclines and a few steep climbs on the other end of the pond.
You might get lost in here (briefly) as there are few signs to guide except at the entrances. Keep your bearings with a printed map or phone GPS app. I believe your phone signal will be adequate.
There are actually a number of nice nearby trail areas you can try next time off Hwy 48. Eldred King Woodlands is the largest and best experience but do check out the North Tract, Clake Tract and across the road, the Hollidge Tract which is all good for snowshoeing, just not the best skiing.
Did I see an outhouse here at one time? hmmm, anyway pack what you need for the outing. Though close to Markham, there is not much to be found around these parts for eats till you go south to Stouffville or west to Newmarket.
As I write this, it is snowing outside, a pretty snowfall just like in the pictures from last year. A perfect occasion to visit this wooded tract, explore the trails and clear your mind.