The health benefits of hiking are from head to toe. A walk in the woods can help relieve mental fatigue and improve creative thinking. Hiking is also great for cardiovascular health and muscle tone.
But is hiking an option in winter?
Absolutely. We’ve compiled a list of five parks with stellar options for winter walks:
Darlington Provincial Park
Burk Trail – 1.25 km, 30 minutes, moderate
This trail runs through fields, meadows and mature forests, past a pioneer cemetery and to a scenic overlook over Lake Ontario.
Located just off Highway 401, minutes from Oshawa, Darlington is a beautiful GTA destination, and winter visitors should also check out McLaughlin Bay Trail and Robinson Creek Trail.
Frontenac Provincial Park
Doe Lake Loop – 3km loop, 1-1.5 hours, easy to moderate
Walk along the shores of South Otter Lake and Doe Lake with views of Doe Lake.
Explore Frontenac’s 5,355 hectares at the southern tip of the Canadian Shield, just 40 minutes north of Kingston.
Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park
Boardwalk Trail – 750 m, linear, easy
This short winter walk, just 30 minutes west of Thunder Bay, offers great views of the frozen gorge from the boardwalk (road side only) surrounding the top of the falls.
Do you have extra energy? Cross the bridge, strap on your snowshoes, and explore the Mountain Portage Trail (2 km, easy) or the Little Falls Trail (4 km, intermediate).
MacGregor Point Provincial Park
Tower Trail – 3.5 km round trip
Mild winter temperatures and loss of snowpack have created excellent winter hiking opportunities at MacGregor Point. The park’s boardwalks offer a great winter stroll if you’re visiting Bruce County!
Algonquin Provincial Park
Spruce Bog Boardwalk (km 42.5, Highway 60) – 1.3 km, 1 hour, easy
Spruce Bog offers a very easy hike through a beautiful bog. The snow-covered fir trees provide shelter to many birds and animals that are regularly seen on this trail. Birds such as black-capped chickadees and Canada jays are often seen here.
Bat Lake Trail (km 30 on Highway 60) 5.8 km – 3.5 hours, moderate to difficult
This trail passes through a variety of habitats, including pine, spruce, and hemlock forests, hardwood forests, small streams, and a wetland. From the top, enjoy a spectacular view of a frozen lake.
Mizzy Lake Trail (km 15, highway 60) – 10.8 km, 6 hours, difficult
This rugged trail takes the hiker past numerous frozen ponds and lakes, through hardwood and spruce forests, and over several hills. There are many opportunities for excellent wildlife viewing on this trail. Get ready for a long walk. Dogs are not allowed on this trail.
Winter Hiking Safety
Always remember to give yourself enough time to complete the trail before dark. Check the start time and trail length before you begin. If you think you don’t have enough time, don’t start! Winter temperatures can be very cold and even colder at night.
Avoid frozen bodies of water and stay away from ice. Ice conditions can be unpredictable.
And of course, dress for the weather.