Thu. Dec 7th, 2023
Child and adult skiing.

Staying active in winter is not always easy. For some of us, it’s tempting to stay home, curl up, and spend the long winter months watching Netflix under a warm blanket.

Cross-country skiing has a wide range of physical and mental health benefits. Here’s why you should strap on some skis and spend the winter gliding through frozen forests and snow-covered trails:

Benefits for your body

Person smiling while holding cross-country skis.

Cardiovascular health: Cross-country skiing will give you the much-needed cardiovascular exercise we miss in the winter. A fast ski will get your blood pumping and increase the health and endurance of your heart.

Muscle groups: Cross-country skiing is a challenging exercise that engages muscles throughout the body. Using poles exercises the shoulders and triceps, while activating the core and legs.

Tips from a Trail Manager: Preparing for the Perfect Day of Cross Country Skiing

Burn calories: As one of the most demanding cardiovascular sports, a dedicated session of cross-country skiing will have you burning a lot of calories.

Joint Health: Cross country skiing is a low impact activity. The smooth gliding motion and gradual movements mean it doesn’t put much pressure on your joints. This makes it a great form of exercise to stay healthy with a low risk of injury.

Man smiling in front of the ski slope on a sunny winter day.

Soak up some vitamin D: We tend to consume much less vitamin D in the winter. Research has shown that vitamin D is good for preventing disease, improving mood, and the growth and development of bones and teeth. Get out and sunbathe!

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Benefits for your brain

Stress relief: Feel stressed? A break in nature can do wonders for your mental health. Stress is relieved within minutes of exposure to nature, as measured by muscle tension, blood pressure and brain activity.

Snowman and skiers

Better mood: Exercising outdoors is good for your mood! Exercising outdoors has a positive effect on mood compared to exercising in a gym.

Socialization: Cross country skiing is a great activity for your friends and family. Spending active time outdoors will allow them to bond and connect with each other and the outdoors.

Go to the trails

Nineteen Ontario parks have more than 450 km of cross-country ski trails available. Here are some of our favorites:

Windy Lake Provincial Park

Person skiing in the snow.

Windy Lake offers nearly 15 km of groomed ski trails and trails, perfect for classic cross-country and skate styles. If you would like to spend more than one day at Windy Lake, there are yurts and cabins available during the winter season.

Silent Lake Provincial Park

Two people cross-country skiing in the forest.

Located just outside of Bancroft, Silent Lake is a great place to come ski, whether you’re looking for a beginner or difficult trail. The 40 km of trails wind through cedar swamps and stands of birch and beech, and all four trails begin and end at the parking lot for added convenience.

If you’re looking to stay overnight, there are ten cabins and eight yurts available during the winter season.

Arrowhead Provincial Park

Front view of a cabin in winter in Arrowhead.

With 21 miles of groomed trails perfect for classic skiing or skateboarding, Arrowhead is famous for its winter activities. The park rents skis and snowshoes at its Visitor Center. If you are looking for a place to stay, check out one of our cabins.

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Wasaga Beach Provincial Park

Family renting ski equipment from an Ontario Parks employee.

Wasaga Beach Provincial Park rents cross-country ski and snowshoe equipment. The Wasaga Nordic Center is open in the winter months for rentals, snacks and select merchandise, and also offers ski lessons.

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

Sleeping Giant is famous for the annual Sleeping Giant Loppet event, internationally recognized for its ski competition, which takes place on the first Saturday in March.

Person skiing on Loppet next to a frozen lake.

In addition to the Loppet, the Giant offers more than 50 km of groomed slopes, ideal for beginners and experienced skiers, both for classic skiing and skate.

Extend your stay in one of five rustic cabins!

Wondering about the conditions?

Don’t forget to check the snow report before you head out.

Happy trails!