Muskoka Vacation House in Huntsville Ontario

Muskoka Vacation House in Huntsville Ontario

Muskoka Vacation House in Huntsville Ontario

Top Winter Activities in Huntsville Ontario for 2024

Top Winter Activities in Huntsville, Ontario

If you are looking for a winter getaway in Ontario there are certainly more options than the typical Blue Mountain resort getaway. Although Blue Mountain has certainly developed a strong reputation for winter escapes, it is also rather expensive. If you are looking for something different, then may we recommend heading up to Huntsville, Ontario; Muskoka’s top winter destination.

There, you will find the charming town of Huntsville and a vast array of winter activities to take part in including skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, dog sledding, and so much more. Here we provide you with a guide on some of the winter activities you can do in and around Huntsville, Ontario.

Winter Hiking

A wonderful tool to us in order to learn more about specific hiking trails recommended and available around Huntsville is AllTrails.com. You can search by difficulty, terrain, read reviews, see pictures, etc. The following are some popular ones in the area:

Hiking in Algonquin Park

Ontario’s most popular park, Algonquin Park, is home to some of the best winter hikes in the area. Popular trails include the Leaf Lake Ski Trail, Fen Lake Ski Trail, and the Old Railway Bike Trail. Trails vary in difficulty, so choose one that matches your skill level. Some of the more popular trails in Algonquin Park to hike in the winter are Hemlock Bluff Trail, Lookout Trail, Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail. Both the Lookout Trail and Hemlock Bluff offer very nice winter views.

A park permit is required for entry into Algonquin Park. Make sure to obtain the necessary permits, and check the park’s website for any specific regulations or restrictions during the winter months.

Hiking trails can get icy in the winter. Ensure your safety by packing essential cold weather gear.

 

Hiking ArrowHead Park

Arrowhead Provincial Park, located in Ontario, Canada, offers beautiful opportunities for winter hiking. Winter hiking in Arrowhead Park is a popular activity, with well-maintained trails and picturesque landscapes. Here are some key points to consider: Arrowhead Park has a variety of trails suitable for winter hiking. The Stubb’s Falls Trail, Big Bend Lookout Trail, and Mayflower Lake Trail are popular choices. Each trail offers a different experience, from scenic viewpoints to serene forested paths. In addition to hiking, Arrowhead Park offers other winter activities. The park is known for its ice skating trail, which winds through the forest. Visitors can also enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Before planning your trip, it’s advisable to check the official Arrowhead Provincial Park website or contact the park office for the latest information on trail conditions, events, and any additional details to make the most of your winter hiking experience.

Limberlost Forest

Limberlost Forest is a private park outside Huntsville, Ontario with over 10,000 square kilometres of untouched nature and over twenty private lakes. The park offers a beautiful natural environment for various outdoor activities including over 70 kilometres of trails for cross-country skiing, biking, and hiking, made available to the public at no cost to the visitor. Here are some details about hiking in Limberlost Forest during the winter:

Its winter hiking trails include Solitaire Trail (6.3 km, easy to moderate), Buck Lake Trail (4.3 km, easy to moderate), and High Lake Trail (1.8 km, easy to moderate). The trails are well-marked, but some off-shoots may be less clear, providing a diverse hiking experience during winter.

Visit the official Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve website or contact them directly to get the latest information on trail conditions, trail maps, and any specific guidelines for winter hiking. The park is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.

Address: Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve, 1088 Buck Lake Landing, Huntsville

Hiking Lions Lookout in Huntsville

Located right in the heart of Huntsville is a trail leading up to the Lion’s Lookout Tower. The lookout offers breathtaking views of Ontario’s landscape, including the town of Huntsville, the Muskoka River and Fairy Lake. To access the trail, head to Forbes Hill Drive and Camp Kitchen Road, situated behind the Canada Summit Centre. The trail’s convenient location is great for those wanting a quick hike right in downtown Huntsville. It is about 1.5 kilometres long and has some steep inclines. The lookout is easily accessible by car, and there are parking spots available for those that wish to drive up to the lookout instead of hiking it. It’s a great spot for photography, relaxation, and taking in some nice panoramic views in Huntsville. Address: 100 Lions Lookout Point Road, Huntsville
Cost: Free

Skating in Huntsville

 

Skate Trail at Arrowhead Provincial Park

There are several places to skate in or near Huntsville, however, let’s get real, visiting the skating trail at Arrowhead Provincial Park is way more fun. The Ice Skating Trail at Arrowhead Park is quickly becoming Ontario’s hottest winter attraction – the 1.3km trail – is a must do experience in Huntsville as this special skating rink in a snow-covered forest should be on everyone’s to do list.

On select Friday and Saturdays throughout the winter, Arrowhead Park hosts Fire & Ice nights. Once the sun goes down, the Arrowhead Ice Trail is illuminated by hundreds of tiki torches to light up your night. *Please visit Arrowhead Park to see latest trail conditions.

There are a few things to keep in mind when visiting the Arrowhead skate trail.  The best time to visit the trail is midweek – less traffic on the ice means better skating conditions and more room to play.

  • Skate rentals available at the park
  • Helmets are recommended on the trail, but not mandatory
  • Dogs are not permitted on the ice skating trail, or on cross country ski trails at Arrowhead Provincial Park. They are permitted on snowshoeing trails at the park
  • Baby strollers with rubber wheels (no metal wheels) are permitted on the skating trail, as long as the parent is comfortable. Use of baby strollers on the trail is at parent’s own risk
  • Daily park permits cost $21 per day, per vehicle. Park capacity is limited.
    • If you’re looking to guarantee entry to the park, make sure to reserve your daily vehicle permit in advance online or by phone. Permits can be reserved up to 5 days in advance.
    • Reserve permit online (For ‘Fire & Ice’ nights, make sure you select the “Day Use + Fire and Ice Evening Skate” option.)
    • Call 1-888-ONT-PARK (1-888-668-7275)  from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. EST

Click here to see more information and frequently asked questions or call 705-789-5105.

Address: 451 Arrowhead Park Road in Huntsville

Skiing in Muskoka

Downhill Skiing at Hidden Valley Ski Hill

The only Ski Resort in Muskoka is Hidden Valley Highlands Ski resort just outside Huntsville and is home to 15 groomed trails, eleven runs, with the longest run clocking in at 580 meters or 1902 feet, a terrain park, as well as night skiing and snowboarding. It’s ideal for people of all skill levels as well as children. They offer ski and snowboarding lessons for adults and kids, along with rentals.

Address: 1655 Hidden Valley Road in Huntsville

Cross Country Skiing in Huntsville

There are hundreds of kilometres of ski trails across Muskoka. You’ll find a variety of awesome cross country skiing trails in Huntsville. Popular choices are:

Cross Country Skiing at Arrowhead Provincial Park

Arrowhead Provincial Park offers 28 km of classic ski trails and 16km of skate ski trails, ranging from beginner to expert level. Arrowhead park is located a few minutes outside of Huntsville.

Address: 451 Arrowhead Park Rd, Huntsville, ON P1H 2J4, Canada
Phone: 705.789.5105
Website: https://www.ontarioparks.com/park/arrowhead

 

Cross Country Skiing at Algonquin Provincial Park

Algonquin Park has 85 kilometres of groomed and 32 kilometres of non-groomed cross-country ski trails available in several trail networks. Trails range in degree of difficulty from easy to difficult. Ski trails typically open in December and close in March, but obviously are subject to weather conditions. 

Address: Algonquin Provincial Park
Phone: 705-633-5572
Website: http://www.algonquinpark.on.ca

Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve

Limberlost offers 25 km of groomed trails for classic skiing that appeal to both novice and advanced skiers. And the best part? They offer them for you to use free of charge!

Address: Clear Lake Trail, 1088 buck lake landing, Huntsville, ON P1H 2J6, Canada
Phone: 705-635-1584
Website: https://limberlostforest.com/

Snowshoeing near Huntsville

 

Snowshoe Arrowhead Park

Snowshoeing is one of the best winter activities to do in Arrowhead. Visitors can explore the 8+ km of marked snowshoe trails, as well as off-trail snowshoeing through mature hardwood forest.

If you’re looking for a great trail that’s rated as easy try Stubb’s Falls Trail. This 2 km roundtrip trail takes you over a bridge and waterfall. An alternative is the Mayflower Lake Trail, which is 2km roundtrip, but is rated moderate and takes you through scenic woods.

Address: 451 Arrowhead Park Road in Huntsville

 

Snowshoe Limberlost Forest

Limberlost Forest is a private park outside Huntsville, Ontario with over 10,000 square kilometres of untouched nature and over twenty private lakes. The park offers a beautiful natural environment for various outdoor activities including over 70 kilometres of trails for cross-country skiing, biking, snowshoing and hiking, made available to the public at no cost to the visitor. Here are some details about hiking in Limberlost Forest during the winter:

Snowshoeing is also popular in Limberlost Forest, with recommended trails like Solitaire Lake Loop and Buck Lake Loop.

Visit the official Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve website or contact them directly to get the latest information on trail conditions, trail maps, and any specific guidelines for winter hiking. The park is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.

Address: Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve, 1088 Buck Lake Landing, Huntsville
Cost: Free

Dog Sledding near Huntsville

Many people think about it, now its time to do it. Dog sledding is unique winter activity that is perfect for couples, kid, friends and families. The closest place for dog sledding to Huntsville is North Ridge Ranch, located just north of Arrowhead, 20 minutes outside Huntsville. This family owned and operated business runs a variety of dog sled tours. You can read more about their services on their North Ridge Ranch. Address: 1823 Williamsport Road in Huntsville

Winter Festivals near Huntsville

Algonquin Park Wild Festival

Every February, Algonquin park celebrates winter with their annual Winter in the Wild Festival.

This family-friendly festival celebrates winter in Algonquin Park through indoor and outdoor events held at various locations throughout the Highway 60 Corridor of Algonquin Park, including many at the Algonquin Visitor Centre. All of the activities during the Winter in the Wild Festival are free with the purchase of a Daily Vehicle Permit or Camping Permit (with the exception of food at the charity barbecue).

 

Fire and Ice Festival in Bracebridge

One of the top winter festivals in Muskoka is the Fire and Ice Festival in Bracebridge. The festival generally takes place every year in downtown Bracebridge at the end of January.

The festival transforms downtown Bracebridge into a winter wonderland with ice displays, fire pits, ice skating, and even fire artists.

The “FIRE” features include  performances by talented fire artists and a spectacular fireworks display. Warm up around the many fire pits throughout the festival and enjoy a classic Muskoka treat, on a open fire.  The “ICE” features include interactive ice displays, ice sculpture carvings, ice skating – bring your own. Stretching out along the main street of Bracebridge lies the main attraction of the festival, the tube run. Along with the tube run, there’s the Winter Village located in Memorial Park, which is also downtown.

Gravenhurst Winter Carnival

Another amazing festival to attend during your stay in Muskoka this winter is the Gravenhurst Winter Carnival. The Winter Carnival began in 1971 and takes place every February. Some of the key features of the event are the polar bear dip, eating competitions, and walking tours, amongst other interesting activities. There are also snow sculptures and live entertainment.

Check out the Winter Carnival page on Facebook for up-to-date information.

Santa’s Village for Santafest

Santa’s Village is a 60-acre family park and one of the top attractions in Bracebridge. Santa’s Village is open during the summer and provides families with tons of fun things to do. But in the winter, it transforms into a winter wonderland where you will find plenty of festive things to do, like holiday themed rides, Christmas lights, meeting Santa, story time with Mrs. Claus, and the Candy Cane Express Train. Plus, there’s a Christmas Market and horse drawn wagon rides. Santafest, however, is only open in the month of December.

Address: 1624 Golden Beach Road in Bracebridge

Ice Fishing near Huntsville

With over 1600 lakes in Muskoka, it’s no surprise that ice fishing is a popular winter pastime. Ice fishing enthusiasts from all over the country head to Muskoka year after year to drill some holes and catch some fish in the winter. All of that just a two-hour drive away from Toronto where you can sit in a cozy fishing hut and hang out with family and friends while you drink hot cocoa and wait for a fish to bite – a relaxing experience like no other. Here are a number of outfitters and places around Muskoka that provide Ice huts or gear for ice fishing. A local search will help you find those that are available in any particular winter.

Rent a Fat Bike near Huntsville

Fat biking is quickly becoming a popular winter activity and Muskoka has plenty of trails to enjoy the activity. You can rent an electric Fat bike if you can find one (highly recommended) or a regular fat bike. Trail areas include Limberlost Forest, ArrowHead Park, Algonquin Park, Bracebridge Resource Management Centre, Trans Canada Trail , Echo Valley, or have a look at Mountain biking trails available in Muskoka on Trailforks. Rental places include:

Algonquin Outfitters in Huntsville

Liv Outside in Bracebridge

 

Ice Climbing in Muskoka

Ice climbing is a lot safer than you’d think and it’s a unique and thrilling winter activity. About 25 minutes south of Huntsville is an outfitter called Liv Outside. There, you’ll find guided tours that will train you how to ice climb. Experience the thrill of climbing 70-100 vertical feet of beautiful chandelier ice clinging to the granite cliffs nestled in the hardwood forests of Muskoka. Muskoka offers consistently great ice conditions and some of the best routes for beginner to intermediate climbers.

Enjoy a Sleigh Ride

Fancy a classic winter sleigh ride? Explore a romantic ride for two at night or a delightful daytime ride with the family. Either way, if piling under blankets aboard a classic sleigh and taking off into a magical winter wonderland along woodland trails and then ending your sleigh ride by the campfire while sipping hot chocolate and roasting marshmallows sound like a great way to spend a winter day, then do check out the following winter Sleigh ride providers.

Beyond Equine Centre in Huntsville

The Peca Farm in Huntsville

Snowmobiling in Muskoka

With more than 1,200km of snowmobile trails in Muskoka extending from Georgian Bay to the Algonquin Park border, you’ll find something for everyone. Often crossing private land not publicly accessible in other seasons, the trails will connect you with views you can’t see at other times of the year. For those without a snowmobile of their own, you can rent from several local outfitters where you can book a guided tour or go on your own, pick up trail maps, gear and some orientation. Consider some of the following snowmobile – Ski-Doo outfitters in the area:

Muskoka Wild

Lake of Bays Marina

 

Where to stay in Huntsville

There are a variety of places to choose from in and around Huntsville over the winter. You can choose to stay at a resort, hotels, motels, vacation rentals, etc. It really depends your preference and of course budget. There are advantages and disadvantages to all choices:

RESORTS: Staying at a resort has the advantage of being in a more manicured property, has several housing options and provides one location where you can access several services like in house restaurants, a spa, a gym, lounging areas, etc. However, they can get very pricey if you are a larger group that needs more than 1 room. Although Resorts do not charge cleaning fees, they do indeed charge “Resort fees”, that can be just as expensive. Most resorts are also not within the downtown core, most situated a few minutes drive out of town.  

HOTELS, MOTELS: Staying in a hotel or motel in Huntsville; they advantage is almost always price. There are some real nice places to choose in Huntsville. The disadvantage is location, meaning that most if not all are away from main street and are typically in a commercial zone, most have smaller accommodations, and they can get more pricey if you are 5 or more people, meaning you will need 2 or 3 rooms, not really comfortable to stay as a family in 2 or 3 room in small spaces with no area to all get together. If the focus is just a place to sleep, and be budget friendly then hotels and motels in the area are great. If the focus is on comfort, style, room to get together, privacy, fully functional kitchen, proper dining areas, larger groups, then Resorts and Vacation Rentals are a better option.

VACATION RENTALS: Staying in a Vacation rental has its advantages; you can choose a rental that focuses on your group’s specific needs. Do you need a full kitchen, a hot tub, an outdoor space, a campfire, dining table, by a lake, right in Downtown within walking distance to restaurants in Huntsville? Whatever the need, you are sure to find something. Also, if you are a larger group requiring multiple rooms, a Vacation rental is far more comfortable, private and less expensive than the alternative. In fact, it may be the only option. However, they also have disadvantages. For instance, it is not recommended to stay at one in the winter deep in the forest or by a lake where the driveway is questionable. When a big snow storm hits, you will be stuck there for a while. Also, some rentals have questionable quality so always choose the ones with the best ratings and the ones that actually have a fully licensed rental from the town of Huntsville. If you are not sure, then ask the rental owners for their license number. Vacation rentals can also get quite pricey after you add on all extra fees and of course, most vacation rentals charge a cleaning fee as extra where Resorts and hotels or motels typically do not. Although resorts do have resort fees. Typical places to search for Vacation rentals in Huntsville include the Huntsville Tourism Board  Website, Airbnb, VRBO, Cottages in Canada, Several Cottage rental Groups on Facebook.

Regardless of the accommodations type you wish, the Huntsville area has plenty choose from. One recommendation is to always look at the final price you are paying including taxes and all fees and not the basic price. Then compare that price with all the options you find. You may be surprised at the final result.

If you are partial to staying in a nice Vacation rental, may we suggest and shamelessly plug the Muskoka Vacation House, right in downtown Huntsville.

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