Does the lack of good snow get you down?
Located just north of Sudbury, Windy Lake Provincial Park has some of the best cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails in the region, plus cozy yurts and cabins, making it a great winter vacation destination.
Here are our top five reasons why you need to visit Windy Lake:
1. Snowshoeing on the rim of an ancient meteorite crater
Windy Lake is located in the northwest corner of the Sudbury Basin, a 1.8 billion-year-old meteorite crater.
The crater rim (up to 60 km wide in places) forms a ring of hills around Sudbury and its neighboring communities. The road to Windy Lake from Sudbury goes along the crater rim and is quite scenic.
Several miles of snowshoe trails wind through the park’s forest, and the park’s paths and the shores of Windy Lake provide further opportunities for snowshoeing.
The Onaping Falls Nordics Ski Club has developed a 6km snowshoe trail on its grounds that climbs to a lookout point and offers expansive views of the lake.
2. Lots of snow
Sitting on the edge of a meteor crater means Windy Lake has a high enough elevation above Sudbury that it receives more snow and holds it longer during the winter and early spring.
Whether you prefer skiing, snowshoeing or fishing, Windy Lake has the snowy paradise you crave.
3. Pristine ski slopes (and a chalet to warm up)
The cross-country ski trails are expertly groomed and groomed by the Onaping Falls Nordics Ski Club, which is based in the park.
The club prepares a kilometer of trail within the park where the yurts are located and owns adjacent land with 15 km of trails that wind through hills and Jack Pine forests.
The Chalet is the start of the trail and the parking lot for the ski slopes. It offers flushing toilets, changing rooms, a wood stove and tables and chairs for lunch. The Club also rents skis, boots, poles and snowshoes.
On weekends, the Chalet is a hub of activity, with ski club members warming up, drinking hot chocolate or having lunch.
4. Ice fishing
In winter, Windy Lake freezes over and becomes the perfect place to try winter fishing. Windy Lake contains Lake Trout, Walleye and Northern Pike.
The park rents various ice fishing equipment that can be towed onto the ice. Park staff will help you choose a location to drill your fishing holes.
The kit comes on a sled that contains a pop-up shelter or “ice hut,” an auger for drilling fishing holes, seats, fishing rods and lures.
5. Cozy yurts and cabins after a day of hiking
The park features four heated yurts located along the 1km ski trail circuit (connecting to the Club’s 15km of trails).
Walk out the door, put on your skis and go!
If you are snowshoeing, the trail goes behind the yurts and out into the park. Because they are next to the trail, visitors ski or snowshoe from the parking lot to their yurt, towing their gear on the park’s slides. Heated toilets can be found near the yurts.
Two lakeside cabins are located downhill on the shores of Windy Lake and are accessible by road. They have panoramic views of Windy Lake itself, with the ski and snowshoe trails winding up the hill behind them.
The cabins are near a snowmobile trail, part of the Cartier Moose Loop that connects to Sudbury’s 700 km of snowmobile trails. The cabins share a nearby heated toilet.
Both yurts and cabins have a terrace with a barbecue (complete with side burner), mini-fridge, and microwave.