The Northumberland County trails are a little-known yet large forested area that offers a free cross-country skiing experience for those willing to rough it. No frills here, just nature and a good, stress free day of outdoor exercise.
North of Cobourg about 15 km from Lake Ontario, this wooded area on the Oak Ridges Moraine matches very much the topography of Ganaraska further west. Here you will find a mix of evergreens and hardwood trees among rolling hills that can be high.
Passionate locals come here to enjoy the serene wilderness and do a bit of backcountry skiing. You will likely find tracks already cut by them bushwacking around the 7 loops available.
No scheduled grooming or skate skiing is here as the trail is narrow with a few tight turns.
From the trailhead signs with coloured dots lead you into four main coloured trail lengths. The Red 2.6 km and the Orange 2.2 km loops both are easy and short enough for most skiers to handle. Consider skiing the Blue 3.3 km loop as well for a bit more.
Adventurous and fit Nordic skiers will want to take on the Green loops (ranging from 5 – 14 km in length) which are full of hills. Perfect to explore and feel one with nature. Down by the southwest corner is the yellow Hog’s Back Bypass if you want to avoid these challenging inclines. (Just don’t tell anyone you did.)
This is a designated ski area only (between Dec 1st and March 30th), so if you wish to Snowshoe, hike or ride a Fatbike then head east to the Woodlands lot. There are a few loops from 3 – 9 km (which is far on Snowshoes) to take you through the woods over hill and dale. The side trail to climb Lookout Mtn. might be to your liking too.
You may notice trails on the other side of the Beagle Club Rd. I am not sure of their status but I know snowmobiles do ride through these woods.
Aside from a large parking lot, outhouse and benches on the trail there are no warming cabins or other comforts. You will find few food options for miles if you wish to buy lunch, so pack well for this outing.
I might also add go with a buddy, or tell someone if you ski way into the bush as this area has few people who can help.
So there you have it, some fine wilderness skiing in Southern Ontario. Unfortunately, it may be too southern, as in recent years, the snow has not always remained here for long. Curses global warming!… you will have to watch the weather and take a chance, but please do…