20 Outdoor Winter Activities in and Around Bruce Peninsula

Surrounded by the waters of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, this small, nature-rich county offers so much to explore in the outdoors. Bruce County’s parks, trails and other natural treasures will fill your days and entice you back for more. Poised along the Niagara Escarpment, it has two national parks and dozens of other gems to enjoy as you breathe in the fresh air.

 

1. Brave the cave

Trek into The Grotto in Bruce Peninsula National Park either on your own or as part of a guided tour. The five-kilometre hike takes about four hours and is well worth the view.

Where: Bruce Peninsula National Park

Phone: 226-277-0944

Fees: Self-guided Tour: Admission to the national park. My Eco Adventures leads tours on Thursdays and Saturdays in the winter for $65 per person, on top of park fees of $11.70 per vehicle and $8 per adult.

2. Ooh, a chance to snowshoe!

The Bruce County Trail Network offers a range of options for those looking to get out on top of snowy surfaces. Biener Trail, found in Biener’s Bush, provides a flat, winding surface through the trees where you can almost breathe in the peace and quiet along three different paths. To get there, drive along Concession Road 10 (just north of downtown Port Elgin), to the western end then park on the south side of the road in the parking lot. Start out with the 3.3-kilometre red trail before trying the others.

3. Prowl with the Owls

Explore Lion’s Head Provincial Park Reserve on a guided tour to discover the night-time wildlife of Bruce Peninsula. For two and a half hours, you’ll find out fascinating facts about owls and other creatures.

Where: Lion’s Head Provincial Park Reserve

Phone: 226-277-0944

Fees: $45 person (plus HST)

4. Look out on the bluffs

 
The Saugeen Bluffs Conservation Area trails near Paisley have various mile-long loops offering easy to moderate workouts to burn off some of those winter calories. Bring your cross-country skis or your snowshoes and make sure you get to the lookout when you visit.

5. Ski at Sauble Beach

Nearby, you can also enjoy more than 18 kilometres of trails, thanks to the Sauble Beach Cross Country Ski Club. Its trails are open, even when the chalet is not. Ramble along the edge of the Rankin River or ski the groomed trails. Just leave your dog at home. Membership costs $75 for the year.

Where: 931 Sauble Falls Parkway, a kilometre north of Sauble Falls

6. Ski for $3

For the cheapest outing in the area (other than the free trails), plan a trip to Stoney Island Conservation Area on Bruce Road 23 near Kincardine. You can traipse along six kilometres of trails on skis and five kilometres on snowshoes in the park along the Lake Huron shoreline. Parking is free and you pay the Kincardine Cross-Country Ski Club via an honour system in a box at the gate.

Fee: Daily trail fees are $3 per person or $5 per family.

7. Walk back in time

The Ripley and Lucknow Historical Walking Tours highlight the lives of the pioneers who made the area into the striving spot it is. There are two routes to take you back to the late 1800s and early 1900s: Sommerville and Treleaven. You can download the maps or get audio files to guide you along (data or Wi-Fi required).

8. Historic and scenic views

For four kilometres of an easy glide, check out the Chesley Heritage Trailas it passes through the town of Chesley. Admire the stunning North Saugeen River and several historical plaques along the way. Views from two bridges are the highlights of this trail. You can get there from Riverside Park, Krug Park or 4th Street.

9. Fish to feed your family for days

Lake Huron offers the chance to catch chinook salmon for really big dinner of fresh fish. You can also reel in pike, walleye, brook trout and lake trout. You’ll want to ensure the ice is safe since some sections freeze up later than other lakes. You’ll need to rent an ice hut to wait out the fish.

10. Skate amid the forest

For a romantic outing, head to MacGregor Point Provincial Parkfor a starlit skim along its 400-metre ice-skating loop in the middle of the forest. It, and the large outdoor ice pad, are both lit up at night so you can leave the kids to play a game of shimmy while you escape for a few minutes hand in hand with your sweetheart.

Where: 1593 Bruce Road 33, Port Elgin

Phone: 519-389-9056

 

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11. Rough it in Bruce Peninsula National Park

For the purist, venture out on ungroomed trails for a more challenging workout. Cross-country skiers and snowshoers are forewarned to stay on the trails as they will encounter cliff edges and shorelines along the way.

Where: 469 Cyprus Lake Road, Tobermory

Phone: 1-888-773-8888

Fees: Park fees of $11.70 per vehicle plus $8 per adult, $7 per senior and $16 for a family group. Anyone under age 17 gets in for free.

12. Hike the White Bluff

 

On a beautiful winter day, head out to explore the rugged shorelines of the Smokey Head Provincial Park. Choose from three different loop trails at the White Bluff Loop to enjoy your walk that offers unforgettable views from the lookout.

Where: Smokey Head Provincial Park, 8 Carter Rd, Lion’s Head

13. Wander near Wiarton

Colpoys Ski Trail takes you along 11.5 kilometres of a gentle, groomed trail through woodlands and across open fields. The highlight is the section along the Niagara Escarpment that offers spectacular views over Colpoys Bay. Bruce Trail fees apply.

Fees: You do need a ski club membership to use any section of the 80 kilometres of the Bruce County Trail Network; fees are $80 for adults, $150 for a family or $60 for a child.

14. Humane Dog sledding

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Green Feet, Ecosystem Services

While many operations have a kennel of dogs who just work, Green Feet Dogsledding employs local pets for its teams, returning them to loving homes at the ends of their shifts. Book for a half day or a full day, along trails of various levels. Call ahead for fees.

Phone: 705-321-8327

15. Bike the Brant Tract Trails

These routes near Paisley offer 25 kilometres with a variety of options for skiers, snowshoers and fat bikers. The easy sections have names such as Rabbit Run, Red Pine Loop and Rolling Ferns, while the tougher ones are entitled Brainbuster, Express, Devil’s Elbow, Shocker, Razor’s Run, Widow Maker and Rick’s Retreat. Bruce County Trail Network trail fees apply.

 

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16. Roar along the trails

Get out on the 2,000-plus kilometres of trails in the county via trails maintained by the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Club. The speed and thrill will add some colour to your cheeks in no time. Make sure you pick up a pass for $45 for two days or $270 for the full season.

17. Pass through Paisley at a slow pace

The Paisley Trail runs for six kilometres from fields and forests right into the downtown core. Along the way, you’ll discover the Teeswater River Bridge and the dykes that rein in the Saugeen River, plus the historic town hall and Hose Tower. Park at Rotary Park or Dr. Milne Park.

18. Enjoy winter at Black Creek Provincial Park

 
Explore Black Creek Provincial Park on a snowshoe. Dress warmly and get ready to hike through the cedars and along the shoreline. The time will fly by as you cross creeks, traverse sand dunes.

Where: Explore Black Creek Provincial Park

19. Explore Lions Head Park

As you hike or snowshoe through Lions Head Park, watch for the rock formation that gives it its name and the ancient white cedars that are a rare site in Canada. It is part of the Niagara Escarpment Parks System, the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve and the Bruce Trail System, so trail fees apply. There are no park services in the winter months so plan ahead.

Where: Lion’s Head, ON; 519-389-9056

20. The Call to the Falls

The Sauble Trails loop takes you through sand dunes and red pine forests, then to the site of waterfalls within the Sauble River. If you enjoy these features in the warmed months, you will be wowed at how they look when iced up and glistening. This popular trail is an easy one for any visitor, as a hiker, skier or snowshoer.

Where: 1400 Sauble Falls Road, Wiarton

Phone: 519-422-1952

21. Will it be an early spring?

The world-famous prognosticating groundhog and the world’s only albino prognosticator, Wiarton Willie, comes out every February 2nd to tell Canadian whether there will be an early spring and there is a festival for that. Though due to COVID-19 there may not be any official celebrations, you can still check out the statue of Wiarton Willie made from a single piece of dolomite limestone weighing approximately 7 tonnes at the Bluewater Park

Where: Bluewater Park, 315 George St., Wiarton

 

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