Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Preserve is a large area on the west side of Algonquin Park. This scenic hilly landscape of lakes and trees, all covered in magical snow, has 35 km of Nordic ski trails and 70 km for snowshoeing.
Last February 2022 we headed 20 minutes east from our Huntsville motel to Limberlost for a long-awaited day trip. The road off Hwy 60 was a rough and icy one that eventually took us to a large parking lot. Most trekkers start from here; I have an AWD van and went farther in. Although there was a snowstorm in progress, I was determined to check out these trails.
So my review is not a typical day here, as the snow was almost a metre deep and our loops had not yet been groomed. But it was obvious that on a non-blizzard day, this is a great place that you needed to know about.
My son and I bushwhacked much of it and could see the potential, so one thumb up.( I’ll reserve two thumbs when I return and actually ski groomed tracks. At that point I’ll be better able to comment on how well they are managed and how much skate skiing you can do.)
The terrain up here in Muskoka cottage country is rugged and while some of the loops run flat alongside the road, others cut into the forest, going up and over large hills. So expect to haul it up the inclines and sweat a bit. Ah! But with every climb, the reward; a fast descent awaits. (I have to keep reminding my son of the payback, lol.)
An odd thing, likely due to the hilly terrain, were the ski tracks that ran along the roads on top of the snowbanks. Likely with no other place to run them, they are higher up and could make beginners nervous. There was not much real estate for a skier to do a snowplow manoeuvre to slow down.
My wife headed out on snowshoes from our smaller parking lot at Buck Lake and tried to circle it at 3 km. Finding the trail to be a little lumpy and narrow to negotiate, she took another route back. Unfortunate, as she missed out on the ice cliffs, and there are lookouts and caves elsewhere, as marked on the map, as likely good photo opps.
We did get a little lost as the signs were not always where I would wish/expect them to be. Management today told me (January 2023) that new signs, maps, and trails are in the works. This is good and well-deserved news for this eco-tourist friendly destination that’s free to use! Yes, private property, with groomed loops, that allows the public to visit.
Since bad weather can close this place, make sure to check if they’re open before you head out. Consider staying over at one of their rental cabins or in a motel/resort nearby. There’s certainly a number of other places you can try—Arrowhead, Algonquin, Frost.
Limberlost is a wonderful place to get away and experience the silence of winter in the woods. There are many trail options; most are loops, some require you to double back. When the lakes freeze up you can cut across them.
And with a choice of six locations to park and venture from, the place will give you days of enjoyment.