The Frost Centre south of Dorset has plenty of great trails to explore. With 27 km to ski and 11 km to snowshoe, the whole family can get out and play.
In Feb. 22′, my son and I skied the Nordic loops and my wife Teresa scouted out a few snowshoe trails (that’s her thing) on the other side of the road.
At the Frost Centre, trails are narrow with a classic cross-country ski trackset down the middle. There is no room for skate skiing.
From the west side parking lot at the trailhead map board, we immediately had to do a brisk 10 metre climb over a hill. The effort to get over this might cause some (beginners) to grumble. Actually, I see it as a fast way to warm up.
Gently down the other side, the paths level out for an easy ski in the sunshine on the Fox, Bunny and Sawmill trails. As we rounded Sand Lake, we came upon the faded wooden buildings of the sawmill yard.
Our destination was Dan Lake, via the 4 km Bear loop. The route continued to surprise us with an interesting path to ski and sights to see. A few short hills took us to the warming cabin at the lake. I will assume it is adequate inside, with a woodstove, yet it was still closed due to Covid.
From here, skiers can venture further west on the 6.5 km Deer loop and the advanced 4.6 km Moose loop. (Which is closed this season, till dead trees are removed.) We did not have a chance to head in that far, as you do need a few hours to get back before dark.
We continued on the Bear, then the Beaver trail to return. This section had some of the most beautiful scenery I have come across skiing in Ontario. That’s a big claim, which was helped by newly fallen snow on the evergreens the day before.
The route took us past boulders the size of cars, down into a ravine, past rock cliffs, some 30 m tall with frozen waterfalls. The largest has a path you can hike up with your ski poles to take a few pictures.
On top is the lookout from the short but steep Marten Trail. Perhaps another time, as it was overcast now and we had to get back to meet up with Teresa.
Her experience snowshoeing on the other trails was equally favourable. She found the views of St. Nora Lake picturesque and the going on the hiking trails enjoyable. A few of the climbs she mentioned were steep. And the Frost website claims there are 27 km more of snowshoeing in the area.
I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful the trek was. The trail design was not boring, the grooming was decent and the signage was exactly what is required. The only thing lacking was other skiers. The parking lot was empty. Why?
Perhaps, for most, the reason is the distance – and the price of gas for a three-hour drive from Toronto? (I chose to stay in Huntsville for the weekend.) Or was it the unreliable grooming? When I got there on a Sunday at noon, the groomer was still setting a track. That is too late.
Regardless, I want to encourage you to drop by for good times in the great outdoors of the Algonquin Highlands.