Winter is magical in Peterborough as the trees glisten with snow and the many lakes and rivers offer special places to get outside and play. This area is known as the Kawarthas – the Huron word for Land of Shining Waters. That description is never as fitting as in the crisp months of winter.
In addition to the rugged outdoors, the creative people in this area have also come up with unique experiences for visitors to see art, find romance, escape a maze, or even fly!
**Activities are weather dependent. Some activities may not be available due to COVID-19 restrictions.**
Skate at the base of the majesty Lift Lock
The Peterborough Lift Lock is an engineering marvel that takes boats 19.8 metres straight up to continue on their journeys in the summer. Its graceful turrets loom over the Trent Canal where skaters can enjoy a glassy surface for skating for the whole family. Park right on Armour Road, just south of Hunter Street, and get on the ice within a minute.
Make sure that you see the green flag flying over the canal before venturing onto the ice. A red flag at the canal indicates the city has not deemed the ice safe for skating.
Brave the steep slope at Armour Hill
Get your heart pounding as you whiz down this popular toboggan site then carry your slide right back up to the top. The full minute descent at high speeds will chill your cheeks and give you a thrill. The legendary hill is in Ashburnham Memorial Park, on Armour Road where it meets Douro Street.
Winter wonderland in Jackson Park
Peterborough’s equivalent of Central Park is a beautiful sight after a fresh snowfall. With nearly 50 hectares to explore, you’ll find trails of various lengths to suit the time in your schedule and the weather at the moment. A highlight will be the quaint pagoda bridge you discover along the way. The main entrance is at 610 Parkhilll Road West, with an alternate entrance off Fairbairn Street, just around the corner (although parking is limited to six spots there).
See Snowy Burleigh Falls
See small chutes and falls formed by water from Lovesick Lake drains to Stony Lake covered with snow and icicles at the Village of Burleigh Falls. Formerly known as “The Chute”, this cascade was used as a log chute in the 1800’s.
Skate on a smaller surface
If you’re looking for a neighbourhood rink where a novice skater can practice, the City of Peterborough has plenty. Here is the full list: Cameron Street Park, Dixon Park, Earlwood Park, Golfview Park, Hastings Park, Kiwanis Park, Nicholls Park, Northland Park, Mapleridge Park, Poplar Park, Stenson Park, Turner Park, and University Heights.
A cool sleigh ride with hot chocolate on the side
Horse-drawn sleighs have been a tradition at Merrylynd Organic Farms in Douro since the land was first settled in 1825. Gather up to 100 people for daylight ride on with a wiener roast and hot chocolate or a moonlit cutter ride for up to eight people. Bring your skates and toboggan for more fun. Call 705-750-5837 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get this year’s fee and to book your ride.
3010 Hwy 28, Douro-Dummer
Explore the art world
Mark February 5 on your calendar and bundle up for the First Friday Art Crawl. Dozens of artists open their doors to the public during this monthly tour between downtown art galleries and studios the first Friday of each month (except January). It gives fans of creativity more reasons to come out and explore. The itinerary is posted here the week before the event.
Ski your heart out
The Kawartha Nordic Ski Club offers stunning scenery along 46 kilometres of classic trails, 27 km for skate skiing, and 2 km for night skiing. There are also nine kilometres for snowshoeing. You can rent skis and snowshoes right on site.
Address: 7107 Highway 28, Township of North Kawartha
Cost: Single day trail pass – Adult $17.70, Senior $15.93, Family $51.33 (2 adults + all juniors), Student $12.39, Junior $7.96
Seasons pass – Adult $135 + $19 per person, Senior $125 + $19 per person, Family $240 + $19 per person (2 adults + all juniors under 18), Student $70 + $19 per person, Junior $50 + $19 per person
Work out in the great outdoors
Peterborough’s outdoor gym gives you a chance to warm up your muscles after strolling through Beavermead Park. The 12 low-impact stations overlook Little Lake and even accommodations people with disabilities. Enter the park at 2011 Ashburnham Dr. and look for the gym near the volleyball court.
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Ride the Kettle
For a gentler toboggan slope, head to the kettle in the hamlet of Stewart Hall (Township of Otonabee-South Monaghan). This post-glacial feature is a great spot for little ones to build up their nerve to tackle bigger hills. You’ll find it tucked in behind the mailboxes on Stewart Street.
Take to the wintry skies
Elmhirst Resort offers Snow Kiting during the last weekend of January. Start off on your skies and soon you’ll be flying through the air thanks to a snow kite. Sessions run for 45 minutes after your training. For $199, you make this a full weekend getaway with great food and comfort. Call 1-800-461-1940 or email email@example.com to get on the wait list.
Settler’s Line, Keene
Catch some fish to fry
Chemong Lake is a fisher’s paradise with easy access from shore and lots of panfish to keep you from snoozing, whether you’re in your shack or in the open air. This is a great venue to introduce kids to this annual tradition. No licence is required for the weekend of Feb. 13.
Want to Skidoo? Me too!
Get out on the trails and reach a different level of speeds on a snowmobile. Peterborough County is part of District 8 – Mid-Ontario of the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs. While maps are not on their sites due to copyright issues, they can point you to vendors who will send you off on happy trails. Permits cost $45 for a weekend or $270 for the full season.
Gaze in awe at The Gut
This 400-acre park is amazing in any season, but the ice formations on the gorge take your breath away in the winter months. Pack good hiking boots to get to the stairway down to the 30-metre gorge and the incredible view from the lookout. Watch for signs from Hwy. 504 but enter via the gate at 2399 The South Rd, Coe Hill (north of Apsley).
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Best cross-country ski trail in the city
For quick access to a trail that doesn’t feel like you’re in a city, strap your skis on at the Bonnaccord Street entrance to the Rotary Trail. The well-groomed path will take you under the bridge to Jackson Park and for a full hour of exploration before you need to turn around.
Find adventure on Butternut Holiday Trail
Peterborough’s original Escape Maze offers an outdoor exploration for groups traveling with their social bubble. This package is a mix between an escape game and Amazing Race. You get an old-time map and complete challenges at each stop. The route takes 90 minutes (more or less) and costs $80 for a family or $25 per adult and $15 per child. Details
Address: 156 Cedarbank Road, Otonabee
Adam and Eve rock (literally!)
On a part hike/part treasure hunt, take your loved one on a tour to find Adam and Eve Rocks near the town of Buckhorn. This pair of large rocks, left behind by a glacier, comes with a romantic legend. Apparently, if a couple holds their hand and touches them, their lives will be eternally blessed. You’ll find them near 850 Adam and Eve Road.
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Trek near Serena’s hometown
If you’re a fan of singer Serena Ryder, drop into her hometown and walk about. The Millbrook Valley Trails offer five routes from forest to wetland, meadow and several lookouts, including one from a railway bridge built around 1865. Enter the trails at the end of Distillery Street in the village or from the parking lot at the provincial fish and nature area on Zion Line. The trails are for pedestrians, cyclists, dogs and horses only.
Take a day trip to a quaint small town
Norwood offers some of the most beautiful brick homes on its main street as you explore “The Friendly Town.” After seeing the town, you can hit three hiking trails that start out at Mill Pond Park, off County Road 40. They range from 200 to 975 metres and include picnic areas and benches for resting.
Enjoy a walk in Havelock
The Mathison Conservation Area offers two options for a short walk when you just have to get out of the house. This 250-acre natural area of scenic forests and wetlands is located north of this lovely town. It has a 1.1-kilometre trail for pedestrians and 1.6 kilometres of multi-use trails for walking, biking, ATV and snowmobiling use (no permit required). This property was graciously donated to the Township by John Mathison in 2001.
39 George Street East, Havelock
Listen to a birdsong chorus
In Lakefield, you find a beautiful boardwalk along the Otonabee River, taking you into natural areas with birdsong and stunning plumage. You can also hike or bike along Millennial Trail for miles, thanks to its connections to the Trans Canada Trail via the Peterborough County Rotary Trail.
Skate like Catriona Le May Doan
Lakefield is also home to an outdoor speed-skating oval inspired by the one used by Canada’s Olympians. It has even been endorsed by multiple gold-medalist Le May Doan. The park is open from noon to 6 p.m. on weekdays and full days on weekends. Lessons are available. You’ll find it at 3358 Lakefield Road.
Ready for a long ski or hike?
The Rotary Greenway Trail will have you out enjoying the scenery for hours along 14.2 kilometres of groomed path. It is a popular spot for cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and fat-bike enthusiasts who want a serious workout. It starts in the city and takes you as deep into the county as you wish to go.
Epic hikes on Harold’s old turf
The Harold Town Conservation Area is a relatively new park, offering 10 kilometres of challenging trails for hikers and cross-country skiers. Its namesake is a famed Canadian painter who owned this property from the mid 1970s until the early 1990s. You’ll want to capture the scenic view from the of the Meade Creek Drumlin which has been identified as a significant natural heritage feature.
Address: 2611 Old Norwood Road, Otonabee
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Take a town-to-town tour
Once you’ve covered that long trail, you may be ready for the Scenic River Road Trail between Peterborough and Lakefield. Running along the Otonabee River, it is a flat trail that is easy to navigate over 15.5 kilometres. It begins Trent University and winds its way north on the east side of the river.
Meet Canada’s oldest maple tree
Mark S. Burnham Woods offers easy access off Highway 7, just east of Peterborough. Along its 2.4 kilometres of trails, you’ll find the tree recently deemed Canada’s oldest maple, at 330 years old. It’s a nice quiet getaway, even if you just want to stretch your legs while on a road trip.
846 Hwy. 7, Douro
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