Living in Toronto can make nature feel a million miles away. This is especially true in winter, when the close proximity of buildings, busy streets, and sleet limit the best that winter has to offer: quiet, snow-covered open spaces, and room to play.
However, the truth is that the natural world is never too far away. Several provincial parks are open throughout the winter and offer easy day visits for city dwellers.
Here are some of the best parks near Toronto that you should visit this winter:
Darlington Provincial Park
Darlington is a charming GTA destination off Highway 401, minutes from Oshawa.
Hikers and snowshoers will love the Burk Trail, which traverses fields, meadows and mature forests, passes a pioneer cemetery and takes in a scenic overlook over Lake Ontario. Winter visitors should also check out McLaughlin Bay Trail and Robinson Creek Trail.
Bring your snowshoes or cross-country skis and enjoy a wonderful experience close to home.
Guarantee your entry to Darlington by making a reservation in advance!
Distance from downtown Toronto: 45 minutes east, near Oshawa.
Brontë Creek Provincial Park
In addition to snowshoeing and 5 km of cross-country ski trails in the park, Bronte Creek also features a disc golf course and a sledding hill.
The park is also home to exciting activities to help cure the winter blues. Watch their Facebook page for updates.
Distance from downtown Toronto: 40 minutes southwest, just after Oakville.
Silent Lake Provincial Park
Silent Lake is a little further than the other parks on this list, but trust us, it’s worth it. We’re talking about some of the prettiest winter scenery in southeastern Ontario.
More than 40 km of cross-country trails run through lush forests, cedar swamps, white birch forests and beech forests. The terrain is rugged, but ideal for family skiing.
Do you want it to be more than a day trip? Silent Lake offers heated yurts and camping cabins for those who want to stay overnight.
Distance from downtown Toronto: 2.5 hours northeast, on the way to Bancroft.
Peninsula Provincial Park
While the campground may be closed during the snow season, Presqu’ile Provincial Park is open for day use 365 days a year.
Many animals are more visible in the park once people leave for the summer. Red foxes, wild turkeys and white-tailed deer are frequently seen.
Bald eagles, snow buntings, and snowy owls are also frequent visitors. How many of them can you spot?
Guarantee your entry to Presqu’ile even on the busiest days by making a reservation in advance!
Distance from Toronto: 2 hours east, on the way to Belleville.
Wasaga Beach Provincial Park
You’ve seen Wasaga Beach in the summer, but winter shows a totally different side of the park. It has some of the most exciting Nordic ski terrain in central Ontario on over 30 km of groomed and piste trails.
Expert skiers can challenge themselves on the High Dunes Trail, while beginner skiers can choose the quieter Blueberry Trail.
No skies or snowshoes? No problem. The Wasaga Nordic and Trail Center offers modern equipment rentals, plus indoor ski and warming shelters to warm up a lunch on a cool winter day.
Distance from Toronto: just under 2 hours north
Sibbald Point Provincial Park
Two words sum up Sibbald Point during the winter: “calm” and “tranquil.” That means it’s the perfect place for winter fishing.
Lake Simcoe offers excellent ice fishing opportunities for perch and whitefish. Just be sure to check Ontario’s fishing regulations before you arrive (and remember your license)!
Guarantee your entry to Sibbald by making a reservation in advance!
Distance from Toronto: Just over 1 hour north, 20 minutes outside of Beaverton.