Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024
5 tips for sharing winter trails

Many Ontario parks have well-maintained trails for winter use.

Knowing proper etiquette and usage rules helps keep them safe for cross-country skiers, snowshoers and hikers alike.

1. Read the signs

Most parks have specific rules for their winter trails. These include one-way trails or trails that only allow certain types of equipment, such as cross-country skis.

adult and child in front of trail sign

These trails are designed with the safety and enjoyment of users, as well as the volunteers and staff who maintain them, in mind.

2. Do not walk or snowshoe on groomed ski surfaces.

Volunteers and staff spend countless hours, often in the early morning hours, grooming ribbons of crowded trails and trails for skating and classic skiing.

Snowshoeing and walking on these trails can make the trails dangerous for all users.

snow grooming machines

Snowshoes with crampons and winter boots can create holes and ruts in the snow that then freeze and create unsafe conditions for skiers. Even dogs can create large indentations in the groomed surface, which is why they are not allowed on many winter trails.

Many parks allow non-skiers on these groomed surfaces or have designated trails for hikers and snowshoers.

3. Try not to hike or snowshoe on the ski slopes.

woman snowshoeing near trees

On unmaintained shared trails, snowshoers should stay to one side and try to avoid stepping on skier trails.

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4. Share the path

The fastest skiers always have priority. If you are slower, move off the trail to allow the faster skier to pass.

skier on trails

A faster skier may also yell “piste!” to ask him to give way.

If they are on a hill, the skier going uphill must step to the side to give way to the skier going down the hill.

If you need to stop for a period of time, pull off the trail and move off the trail to allow others to pass.

5. Stay safe on your winter trips

Before you leave home, check our Ontario Parks Snow Report for the latest conditions.

boy skiing

Avoid crossing bodies of water, travel with a partner, and make sure someone else knows where you are and when you plan to return. Bring water and snacks with you too!

Follow these and other posted winter trail rules to keep trails safe and enjoyable for all users.