Nov
22
Bring on the snow!

 

While many people think of Muskoka as a summer destination with water sports, hiking or just basking in the sun, it’s just as fun to be here in the winter. Here are some of the ways you can play in the snow in Muskoka:

Downhill Skiing

Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area is just a short drive from Colonial Bay. With a variety of groomed runs suitable for skiers of all abilities, Hidden Valley is a great place to spend a day with family. They also offer ski and snowboard rentals, a terrain park, night skiing and lessons. Lift ticket required.

Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing

There are lots of trails in Muskoka that are suitable for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. The closest to Colonial Bay are at Arrowhead Provincial Park and Limberlost Forest Reserve.

Arrowhead Park, located just north of Huntsville, has trails for everyone from beginners to experts. With 29 km of track-set, cross-country ski trails, 12km of skate skiing trails and 6 km of marked snowshoe trails, you’ll be able to spend the whole day exploring. Classic ski, skate skis and snowshoes are all available to rent. A day use fee applies to access the park.

Limberlost Forest Reserve is just 10 km north of Colonial Bay. Access is free to the public and they have 70 km of trails for backwoods skiing or snowshoeing.

Skating

The Town of Huntsville offers two venues for skating. The Summit Centre has indoor skating available until March 30 2012 during scheduled times (a fee applies) plus they offer a Free Family Skate on Sunday afternoons from January 22 to February 12 on Cann Lake near Muskoka Heritage Place.

Arrowhead Park has an outdoor skating rink overlooking Mayflower Lake. A gazebo at rinkside offers a place to change skates or take a break. The park has two heated warm-up shelters and an open fire when you need to warm up. Skates are available to rent. A day use fee applies to access the park.

Snowmobiling

If snowmobiling is your thing, check out the local trails here or if you’ve always wanted to try it out, you can find tours and guides here.

Tubing

Rock Ridge Tubing Park in Huntsville has thrilling runs with lifts to haul you back up to the top. And when you need a break, warm up by the fire pit or in the snack bar. A fee applies to access the runs.

Dog Sledding

A variety of local operators offer dog sledding tours in Huntsville or nearby Algonquin Park. Try Snow Forest Adventures or Huntsville Dog Sled or check Google for more.

Relaxing Fireside

At the end of a day spent playing outside, there’s nothing quite like relaxing in front of a crackling fire. Or you could just spend the day that way too! All of our winter accommodations have fireplaces. If you’d like to experience Muskoka in the winter (and we think you should!) you can see our availability here.

Now we just need Mother Nature to bring us some snow…

The Howell Family

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Nov
07
Do Moose Hibernate?

 Ever wonder where Muskoka’s most iconic animals go in the winter? We do get a lot of snow, making it a fabulous place for winter play if you’re human. But what about all of our furry and feathered friends?

The Loon, perhaps the smartest of the bunch, heads south. Sort of. There are reports that Muskoka’s loons head…east. To the Atlantic Ocean. Or sometimes south to the Great Lakes. No Florida sun for these beauties. Maybe they're not so smart after all. Regardless, they head back to Muskoka in April, sometimes flying back and forth between here and their winter homes several times before finding open water to call home for the summer.

Moose, on the other hand, are perfectly adapted to living in our wintry northern wonderland. Their long legs make trekking through deep snow a breeze, although they often prefer to hang out in or near a forest where the snow isn’t as deep and there are lots of tasty twigs to munch on. The forest also provides cover from the heat of winter. That’s right, the heat. A moose in winter coat starts to pant if the temperature rises above -5C and they really don’t begin to feel the cold until the thermometer drops down to -30C.

Black Bears are the laziest of our local critters, spending 5-6 months of the year hibernating. They head for winter dens sometime in November and don’t emerge until April when the snow is well on its way to becoming part of the lake.

Raccoons are also on the lazy side, hibernating for a good part of the winter, often in family groups. If we have a warm spell, however, they will emerge from their dens to see what kind of havoc they can wreak.

Beavers, the most industrious of our local animals, build lodges that help to keep the colony warm in winter. They stash piles of wood in deep water near the lodge to sustain them through the winter. Underwater exits from the lodge allow them to swim under the ice to get to their food while keeping away from predators at the surface. They even store fat in their tails for winter energy.

Humans over-winter quite nicely in Muskoka, not by storing extra fat (although that sometimes happens), but by adding multiple layers of clothing and participating in a variety of both indoor and outdoor pastimes to stay warm. At Colonial Bay, you can relax in front of a cozy fire after a day spent playing in the snow. Muskoka has abundant opportunities for cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, snowshoeing, skating and snowmobiling. If you’ve never experienced Muskoka in the winter, why not try it this year?

See you soon!

The Howell Family

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