Stretching largely on the south shore of the Ottawa River, Renfrew County is rugged and charming with the gem of Algonquin Provincial Park making it a marvellous place to play. It dips inland to Barry’s Bay and has natural sights such as skating and ski trails to add to your menu of options. Here are 25 things to do outdoors during winter in Renfrew County.
1. Ski Algonquin
Let’s begin with the queen of all Ontario parks. With more than 7,500 square kilometres of wilderness to explore, you can easily wander inside from any abutting property. To get inside, head to the east gate at Whitney and ski along the Leaf Lake Trail. You can travel anywhere from five to 51 kilometres on trails groomed for skate skiing.
Highway 60, Whitney
2. Swoosh along the Silver Spoon
The Deep River Cross Country Ski Club takes loving care of more than 100 kilometres of trails within its namesake town, Chalk River and even around Petawawa. It has three systems: the Silver Spoon, Cabin, Forestry and Plant trail systems. Memberships cost $104 for a family, plus $18 per person. Single adults pay $35, while teens and children pay $25 and $20 respectively. Children under five ski for free.
112 Balmer Bay Road, Deep River
3. Hook your dream fish
With an abundance of lakes, ice fishing is a rewarding way to spend a day. Connect with Irish Creek Outfitters for all the gear and tips you need to snag a walleye worth bragging about. Packages start at $50 for a half day during the week. You can fish without a licence on the Family Day weekend every year.
4. Do the Cala-boogie
Calabogie Peaks Resort is best known as a downhill ski destination, but don’t skip its more horizontal trails! Its Manitou trails beckon snowshoers along a range of trails on Crown land. The cross-country ski trails are challenging along the lakefront property that will take your breath away.
30 Barrett Chute Road, Calabogie
5. Skate amid the trees
Get out for a family skate without the jarring arena soundtrack. Instead, enjoy the sound of the breeze through the branches as you glide for 1.5 kilometres along the Laurentian Valley Skating Trail in the forest beside the Alice & Fraser Recreation Centre. Book your one-hour slot ahead of time.
2 Henan Road, Pembroke
6. Ski the rainbow
The Pembroke Area Cross Country Ski Club grooms five cross-country skiing trails in the hues of a rainbow: red, orange, purple, blue and green. Venture along all 12 kilometres in a day for a $5 donation. You can also buy season-long membership for $80 for adults or $40 for youths. Kids up to age six ski for free.
1867 Forest Lea Road, Pembroke
7. Slap on the blades near Pembroke
The city hosts two outdoor rinks for you to enjoy without paying or booking. Try out the ice at Kinsmen Park on Herbert Street then visit Rotary Park on James Street on your next outing. If you want to catch a drive as well, head to the rink at the Shady Nook Recreation Centre at 80 Richardson Crescent or the Stafford Recreation Centre, 641 Third Avenue South, Stafford.
8. Euphoric Nordic
The Opeongo Hills Nordic Ski Club’s volunteers have created more than 10 kilometres of dreamy trails for classic and skate-ski enthusiasts. Head to the end of Drohan Road in Brudenell, just five minutes from the intersection of Opeongo and Letterkenny roads. Donate $10 per visit in the honest box or get an annual membership for $73 for adults, $38 for youths or $85 (plus $18 per person) for the whole family.
Drohan Road, Brudenell
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9. Trek through Terrace Park
For a back-to-nature experience, visit Terrace Provincial Park and its 215 hectares of untouched beauty. Amid the trees, you’ll find six kilometres of groomed trails for cross-country skiers and snowshoers. Daily fees range from $10 to $18.50.
17 Sunset Crescent, Petawawa
10. Skate in circles at Round Lake
You have your choice of outdoor ice surfaces near Killaloe, one in the town at 28 Cameron St. or a short drive away at Round Lake Recreation Rink, 545 Albert St.
11. Embark to the ark
Logos Land Resort has its headquarters in an ark-shaped building, but its true delights are outdoors. It has a range of trails for snowshoers and cross-country skiers on trails through forests and fields. The resort also has an outdoor rink. It charges visitors $7 per day during the winter.
15906 Ontario Hwy. 17, Cobden
12. Flock to Chalk River
Treat yourself to an outing on ice at the Pine Ridge Park Outdoor Rink on Gutzman Road in Petawawa. It even comes with heated change rooms where you can thaw your toes. For a venture just 15 minutes away, hit one of two outdoor rinks in Chalk River at Point Alexander Town Hall or the Chalk River Municipal Outdoor Arena.
13. Get a rush as you mush
Algonquin Park’s most popular dog-sledding trail takes canines and their companions through hardwood forests for a thrill a minute along Sunday Lake Trail. You can watch or book a guided tour with one of the commercial operators in and around the park. You’ll find the trail just off Hwy. 60.
14. Share a little history
Bonnechere Provincial Park engages your brain and your body with two trails that entertain you along the way. McNaughton Trail has 13 giant footprint signs along its two-kilometre ski or snowshoe route, with educational text. The Walks of the Little Bonnechere River teach visitors about the natural and human history of the area as you explore 10 separate trails. Daily fees range from $10 to $18.50.
4024 Round Lake Road, Killaloe
15. Cannot wait to skate
For residents in the Arnprior area, two rinks await you within just a short drive. You can either head northwest to the John A Gillies Recreation Centre, 138 Sarah Street, in Braeside or southwest to White Lake Park, 33 Diamond Lane, White Lake.
16. They call this Snow Country
Snowmobiling fans know this area as the Snow Country Snowmobile Region for good reason. It has more than 2,800 kilometres of groomed trails that take you over unused rail lines and through pretty villages and ghost towns. Plan to ride the 850-kilometre Round Algonquin Park Trail and knock it off your bucket list. Get your permit from the Ontario Snowmobiling Club Association for $45 for a weekend or $270 for the full season.
17 . Head out on your sled
Havey’s Hill is Arnprior’s top secret toboggan hill extraordinary. Sitting next to the public works yard on James Street, it has no sign so just listen for the squeals of children and adults to find it from the parking lot.
18. Make a skate date
Lace up your skates and spin around the outdoor rink at Legion Field Memorial Park, on Foran Road in Eganville. For a change of scenery, drive 12 minutes east to the Douglas Recreation Complex, at 5366 Hwy. 60, and glide under the open sky there.
19. Retrace loggers’ routes
The Madawaska Nordic Ski Club has developed 18 kilometres of trails based on old logging roads near Calabogie. There are six trails with five branching off from the initial Red Pine Trail. Each ranges from two to six kilometres in length.
20. Sleigh rides and buffalo kisses
Pinto Valley Ranch hosts traditional sleigh rides for up to 10 people for an hour for $282.50. If you are there to celebrate your birthday, it is a tradition to kiss a buffalo during your visit. The family-owned farm also offers horseback riding.
1969 Galetta Side Road, Fitzroy Harbour
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21. Mighty Mount Molson
This tiny hill is maintained by the Petawawa Ski Club on the private land of Fred and Edna Molson yet is open to the public. Since it is adjacent to Terrace Provincial Park, you can slip from its trails to those next door with ease
536 Laurentian Drive, Petawawa
22. Slide away in Petawawa
The best toboggan route in Petawawa sits to the left of the entrance to Centennial Park at 1111 Victoria St., next to the fire hall. Watch for the sign. Don’t be tempted to hit the hill behind the municipal office since you’re likely to collide with a tree or other hazards.
23. Jump and rail on your skis
Mount Martin Ski Club has 12 runs for the most adventurous skiers and snowboarders. If you want to catch some air, check out their jumps, boxes and rails. No membership is required and fees range from $20 to $25 per day, thanks to volunteers from the Canadian Ski Patrol.
82 Double Dip Road, Deep River
24. Skate in Greater Madawaska
This area offers two rinks to get its residents out in the fresh air on skates. For Calabogie residents, the closest rink is at 574 Mill Street. People living closer to Griffith can find their rink at 15 Ginza St.
25. Walk back in history
Take in a walking tour of 22 heritage sites in Pembroke, ranging from the Portage Sundial, Grey Gables Mansion and Cockburn Pointer Boat Monument. Check out murals that also tell the town’s story for those who are learning history and those who have already lived it.