I am a winter person. I love the crisp cold air, hot steam that comes off of a fresh cup of hot chocolate, and the smell of a hot crackling wood fire raging in my living room. These are the things that I think of when I think of a cozy winter evening at home with my heated blanket. However, if you are feeling more adventurous and daring you can step outside of your door and discover the staggering beauty of Ontario’s ‘cottage country’, the renowned Muskokas.
Muskoka is a broad term for a region of Ontario located north of Orillia, South of North Bay, and west of Pembroke. The region is known for its wild beauty and vast woodlands. Muskoka is located just 2.5 hours north of Toronto, 4 hours from Ottawa, and 2.5 hours from Sudbury.
The Muskoka region has everything that you would want in an outdoor winter adventure, from hiking and biking to snowshoeing and ice climbing. Here are 25 things that you can do outside this winter in Muskoka.
**Please obey all local Health Orders. Avoid travel to the region, if advised by Ontario Health. Some activities may not be available due to COVID-19**
1. Take the Children for a Sleigh Ride in Santa’s Sleigh
Take the children for a memorable sleigh ride on Santa’s sleigh! You and your family will take the 15-minute journey through the forest to get to Santa’s North Pole Stables. The price of the sleigh ride includes a family photo taken with Santa.
Address: Back of Beyond Equine Centre, 572 Muskoka Rd #10, Huntsville
Cost: $55.00 for group of up to six
2. Mush! Mush! Dogs! Mush! Drive a Dog Sled
Take the family on a unique dog sledding tour through the wilds of Muskoka. There are one-hour tours and half-day tours which take up about 2.5 to 3 hours. For both tours, the staff provides you with a detailed lesson on how to steer and stop the sleigh. You are sure to never forget this exhilarating ride!
Address: Northridge Ranch, 1823 Williamsport Rd, Huntsville
Cost: One Hour Ride: $145/person for adults and $95.00 per person for children. Children under 3 are free.
3. Taste some Craft Beer
Come taste some of Ontario’s finest craft beerin combination with some great outdoor music. Live music is played from 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm on two Saturdays per month over the winter season (subject to COVID-19 restrictions).
Address: Bays Brewing Company, 59 Main St. E. Huntsville
Cost: $8.00 Cover Charge pp/ at the door
4. Go on a Self-Guided Tour at Sugar Bush Hill Farm
Enjoy the beauty of rustic nature and watch as this family-owned and operated farm makes maple syrup. Please note that the guided tours have been cancelled for the season due to Covid-19, but guests are encouraged to wander the property themselves, looking at the various maple syrup operations on their vast property. At the end of your walk, you can peruse the gift shop, which features Sugar Bush Hill Maple Syrup.
Address: 2389 Muskoka District Rd. 10 West, Huntsville
Cost: No Cost
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5. Spook Yourself with a Paranormal Tour of Muskoka
Go on a grisly self-led ghost tour of the beautiful town of Huntsville. Paranormal Muskoka will give you links to special apps to use as you explore the myths and legends of the surrounding area. Feel free to bring your flashlight, some warm clothes, and your nerve!
Address: Huntsville, ON (The organization will send you tour route information once you have your tickets)
Cost: $30 for a group of up to 10 people; For tickets, send an email to: email@example.com
6. Mountain-Bike through kilometres of trails
Zoom through the beautiful wintry forests of Muskoka on a mountain bike!
Hardwood’s aim is to make winter biking accessible for any age group and any experience level. They provide lessons and gear; you just need to bring the energy!
Address: Hardwoods Ski & Bike, 402 Old Barrie Road W, Oro-Medonte
Cost: Trail Passes are $16.00 for adults, $13.00 for teens, $11.00 for children 6-12, and children under 6 are free. If you are comfortable biking in the dark, a pass after 4 pm is $8.85
7. Courageously Climb an Ice Cliff
Do you love daring sports? Not afraid of heights? Well, ice climbing is the activity for you! The professionals at Liv Outside Adventures take you on a guided tour to a frozen cliffside and teach you the basics of how to ice climb. The climb for beginners is about 70 to 100 vertical feet. All of the safety gear is provided.
Address: Liv Outside Adventures, 271-1 Ecclestone Drive, Bracebridge
Cost: $175/pp for a 6- hour tour
8. Rent a Snowmobile at Cutton Co Luxury Adventures
Rent a snowmobile, pick up a trail map and ride off into the wilderness. Cutton Co Luxury Adventures will provide you with the snowmobile rental and you can find information regarding the trails either in their sales office or at the nearest visitor’s centre.
Address: Cutton Co Luxury Adventures, Port Sydney
Cost: $215 for 1.5 hours; $305 for four hours.
9. Downhill Ski
Come enjoy Muskoka’s premier downhill skiing and snowboarding resort which features several skiing runs of various skill levels ranging from easy to extreme. This resort boasts a warm and friendly family atmosphere and feature an equipment rental service and a full-service cafeteria.
Address: Hidden Valley Ski Resort, 1655 Hidden Valley Road, Huntsville
Cost: Adults $58.00 for Day Pass; $29.00 for Night Pass; Children are $44.00 for Day Pass, and $29.00 for Night pass. There are also half-day passes available.
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10. Fat Bike your Way Through Muskoka
Discover the beautiful wild brush of Muskoka on a groomed fat bike trail. Liv Outside Adventures offers fat bike rentals, and day passes to their miles and miles of trail networks. The self-guided fat bike tour is available Saturdays during the winter and is recommended for groups of at least 2-3 people. Equipment rental is included in the price. Rent a fat bike and be on your way!
Address: Liv Outside Adventures, 271-1 Ecclestone Drive, Bracebridge
Cost: $69.50/pp for groups of 2-3
11. Let a Wilderness Expert show you Algonquin Park
Go on a three-hour-long guided tour of Algonquin Park. This package is customizable to fit your specific hiking abilities, from “mild to wild”. The package includes a gourmet lunch and a hot drink. Get a close-up look at wildlife and gain some wilderness skills as well! Reservations are required. Tours run from February 1st to March 15th.
Address: Algonquin Provincial Park’s West Gate, look for the “Birch Bark” Sign.
Cost: $299 for a group of four (plus tax)
12. Explore Cranberry Marsh in Winter
The farm offers a year-round tour of the estate where guests will learn about the process of making wine from growing the vine to mixing the wine. This tour is called Bog to Bottle Discovery and is offered at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm daily. The tour lasts for about 30-40 minutes and is completed on foot. Reservations are required. After your tour, you could also enjoy a lovely wine and cheese board at the estate’s main house.
Skate a fantastic 1.2-kilometre outdoor circuit at night, play ice hockey, go hiking and more!
Address: Muskoka Lakes Farm & Winery, 1074 Cranberry Road, Bala
Cost: Varies according to activities.
13. Camp Outdoors this Winter at Brent Campground
Bundle up and spread out that thermal sleeping bag! Brent Campground in Algonquin Park offers winter camping. Please note that, due to covid-19, showers and electricity hook-ups are not available.
Address: Brent Campground, 79 Brent Road Deux Rivieres
Cost: $50/camp site, no electricity or water.
14. Go Trail Skating at Arrowhead Park
Tie up those skates and get ready for a winter experience like no other! Enjoy Arrowhead’s 1.3-kilometer forested trail, which can either be a sweet romantic adventure or an afternoon of laughs with the whole family.
Address: 451 Arrowhead Park Road, Huntsville
Cost: Admission to the park is $17.00 per car Monday to Friday and $20.00 on Saturdays and Sundays.
15. Ice Fish on Three Mile Lake
Are you a fishing enthusiast? Have you always wanted to try ice fishing? Well, this is a great way to do it. A package with Muskoka Shores Cottages includes a two-night stay in a heated ice hut, a BBQ lunch on the ice, transportation to and from the ice huts, a BBQ shack, and a washhouse on the ice. Packages are available for a minimum group of four beginning New Years day.
Address: Muskoka Shores Cottage, 1046 Cowan Park Rd. RR2 Utterson
Cost: $185/pp plus tax for a minimum group of 4
16. ATV Adventures
Get down and dirty on a winter ATV mudding adventure! This is a great way to experience the great outdoors and is guaranteed to cure your feeling of winter weariness. Muskoka Stay and Play offers a two-hour guided tour daily with two starting times: 9 am and 2 pm. Tours include a lesson on how to drive the machine, fuel, helmets, snacks, and beverages for the trail.
Address: Muskoka Stay and Play Tours, 3048 Muskoka District Rd
Cost: $250 per machine
17. Test Your Survival Skills
Challenge yourself with a survival skills lesson in the backcountry. Accompany a wilderness expert on a journey into the wild and learn survival skills like fire building, climbing, navigation, tent construction, and more. They offer a one hour, two-hour, and three-hour tour. This is a great group activity for a social event or for team building.
Address: 82 Morgan’s Rd, Huntsville
Cost: $30.00 for one hour tour, $40.00 for two-hour tour, and $50.00 for 3-hour tours
18. Explore the Icy Waterfalls of Bracebridge
The town of Bracebridge is known for its spectacular waterfalls. Two waterfalls that you don’t want to miss out on are Wilson’s Falls and High Falls. Wilson’s Falls can be accessed via the trail that starts at MacCauley Public School. Look for the sign for “Wilson’s Falls.” The trail is quite difficult with steep inclines. However, you are heavily rewarded for your climb with a stunning view of Wilson’s Falls.
High Falls is a site that boasts five separate waterfalls: Pott’s Falls, Muskoka Canyong Falls, Little High Falls, Big High Falls, and a man-made waterfall. The trail leading to the falls is part of the Trans-Canada Trail system. The main set of falls, High Falls is an impressive 50 feet high.
Address: High Falls Site located on High Falls Road. Wilson’s Falls located near MacCauleyPublic School (1270 Cedar Ln, Bracebridge)
19. A Cozy Winter Stay
This beautiful family resort is situated on Lake of the Bays in the heart of Muskoka. Book an entire weekend full of family fun at Blue Water Acres. Stay the night in one of the resort’s quaint cottages complete with a cozy wood fireplace. The resort offers several different outdoor winter activities including tobogganing and tubing! Use the book now feature on the resort’s website to book your stay today.
Address: Blue Water Acres, 1052 Rat Bay Rd, RR #4, Huntsville
20. Scenic Lookout at Lion’s Lookout Tower
Located right in the heart of the bustling yet quaint town of Huntsville is a trail leading up to the Lion’s Lookout Tower which gives the viewer a gorgeous look of Fairy Lake and the surrounding areas of Huntsville. The trail up to the lookout follows Fairy Lake and then continues along old railway tracks. It is about 1.5 kilometres long and has some steep inclines.
Address: 100 Lions Lookout Point Road, Huntsville
21. Take a Winter Hike
This private park is a winter wonderland haven with over 10, 000 square kilometres of untouched nature and over twenty private lakes. There are over 70 kilometres of trails for cross-country skiing, biking, and hiking, made available to the public at no cost to the visitor. The park is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.
Address: Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve, 1088 Buck Lake Landing, Huntsville
22. Canter Down a Forested Trail on Horse-back
Winding Fences is a 200-acre family-owned farmoffering horse boarding and horse-riding lessons. Winding Fences has developed in-depth protocols in response to the covid-19 pandemic. The staff starts out your ride by giving an introduction to giving direction to the horses. Then you are given a guided tour of the farm’s pastures, woodlands, and country roads. The staff will cater to your individual riding experience level.
Address: Winding Fences, 1102 Ambleside Lane Utterson
Cost: $75.00 + HST for a group of up to 5 riders (of the same household).
23. Ski Along the Trails at Gravenhurst’s KOA Campground
Calling all cross-country skiing enthusiasts. This is the place for you! Tighten up those ski boots and get out your rods! Discover KOA Gravenhurst’s over 15 kilometres of immaculately maintained trails perfect for skiing. Access to the trails is free and open for day use, from 10 am to 5 pm daily.
Address: 1083 Reay Rd E, Gravenhurst
24. Admire Group of 7 Art
Come and experience this unique and free public art experience featuring famous Canadian artists, “The Group of 7,” featuring a collection of 80 outdoor murals recreating the iconic Canadian landscapes.
Address: Huntsville Outdoor Gallery, Downtown Huntsville
25. Travel back in Time
Take a journey back in time at Muskoka’s Heritage Village located just outside of the town of Huntsville. Interpreters and exhibits re-tell the story of the first settlers to the area and provide visitors with demonstrations in the blacksmith’s shop, laundry-house, school-house, and more.
Address: Muskoka’s Heritage Village, 88 Brunel Rd Huntsville
Cost: Adult $12.65, Child $9.00 plus HST (prices are for entrance to the pioneer village only)3water3
By Lyndsay Stanley
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