huntsville ontario

The top 8 things to do for an action-packed winter getaway in Huntsville Ontario

While winter can be a dreary time in the city, there is tons of fun and natural wonders to experience just a few hours north of Toronto in Huntsville, Ontario, where a world of adventure awaits, especially during the colder months.

The Ontario locale has a wealth of activities that can suit any style of winter getaway, whether you're looking to challenge your mind, your body, learn new skills, adopt a new hobby, get creative or just relax and take in the wild scenery.

Huntsville and Lake of Bays may be considered cottage country, but they are far different than Muskoka and other cottage-y spots, while also being closer to the city than many of them.

Rent a cabin or other accommodation for the perfect winter adventure getaway, during which you can partake in any of the following activities we've rounded up!

Take a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the woods

While skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, and even snowshoeing are pretty common activities in Southern Ontario, riding through a picturesque, snow-covered forest in a horse-drawn sleigh is something not many people can say that they've done before.

At Back of Beyond Equine Centre in Huntsville, you get to meet all of the horses and ponies on the farm before heading out on a private sleigh ride through wintry woodland trails. Then, cozy up next to a campfire with some hot drinks and snacks to top the whole experience off!

For those looking for extra special outings, you can also take an evening sleigh ride by candlelight (perfect for a romantic couples' excursion), and get the chance to learn how to brush and groom the horses yourself during your meet and greet (great for families!).

Starting in March, there is an option to take a sleigh through the Muskoka Maple Trail, too, and try some locally-produced syrup. All of the rescued and retired horses at the centre have a special backstory, and are extra appreciative of your love and support.

Skate on some of the most scenic ice rinks in the province

Along with the one-of-a-kind skate trail at Arrowhead, Huntsville has a bevy of places to skate, like the Baysville Oval Skating Loop, the Dwight Beach Skating Trail, the Dorset Ice Palace at Dorset Lions Centennial Park, or the Lions Lookout Skating Rink, which is nestled in the middle of the forest in a stunning waterside park.

Algonquin Park also has a rink near the Mew Lake Campground comfort station. Don't forget to bring your skates and maybe even some hockey equipment for a day of winter fun!

Hit the slopes for downhill skiing and snowboarding

If you're looking to hit the slopes without all of the hustle and bustle of the bigger ski hills in the province, escape to Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area in Hunstville, where you can explore 15 different trails of varying difficulty.

There is also a beginner hill and all types of snow school classes for those who are just starting out and looking to foster a lifelong love for this timeless winter sport.

Take a snowmobiling expedition through the wilderness

If you're looking for something with a little more speed and adrenaline, the Muskoka Snowmobile Region has a staggering 1,200 km of designated snowmobile trails that can take you all around the area.

It's super easy to rent a snowmobile from Muskoka Wild and ride between tons of Ontario sites and country towns where you can stop in for a quick bite and drink to warm up before traversing some more terrain!

Take part in an array of outdoor adventures

If you can't decide which activity to jump into, Find Your Wild is the perfect place to start, with guided snowshoe and skishoe treks (complete with tea and snacks by a campfire), Nordic skiing, axe-throwing, archery, and backcountry bush challenges including ropes courses, a bouldering wall, scavenger hunts and other fun and games.

Algonquin Adventure Tours also hosts three-hour guided snowshoe or Nordic ski tours (which come with gourmet trail lunches and hot drinks), winter hiking and bird-watching tours, and even private winter camping tours that will teach you crucial outdoor survival skills.

For a magical dog-sledding tour, check out North Ridge Ranch for both half-day and one-hour experiences with some furry friends.

All of the outings and activities take place in the awe-inspiring Huntsville wilderness and are perfect for groups and parties.

Rent your own hut and go ice-fishing

Ice-fishing's short season is upon us, and for those who want to try it out in their lifetime, the Huntsville area is a great place to do just that. Rent your own heated ice hut on Three Mile Lake through Muskoka Shores Cottages.

Ice fishers have access to a wash house and a BBQ shack for ultimate comfort on the ice, and there are special package deals if you book overnight accommodation in one of the company's beautiful nearby lodges for the full cottage country experience.

Explore provincial parks in new ways

Huntsville is home to both Arrowhead Provincial Park and the legendary Algonquin Provincial Park, which have tons of activities during the winter months.

Arrowhead's 1.3 km-long ice trail is a hit with skaters every year, especially on fire and ice nights, where the meandering path through the trees is lit up with tiki torches. The park also has 28 km of classic ski trails and 16 km of skate ski trails of all levels, as well as on-trail and backcountry snowshoeing, winter hiking and skijoring.

And at Algonquin, you can also skate, cross-country ski, snowshoe, or take out a fat-tire bike and hit the trails because no, biking isn't just for the summer months!

Getting out of the city and into nature also means you're guaranteed to get up-close and personal with some wildlife like you've never encountered in Toronto.

Nourish your brain with local installations, tours and workshops

If you're looking to learn about some local history, there are activities like Eclipse "Walk with Light," which is an interactive forest walk full of spoken word, sound and light installations.

Along the circular path of light, you can see various unique heritage buildings and thousands of lights which are part of an interactive show that actually responds to the participants.

And if you're looking to get even more creatively inspired by the region's beauty, you can take part in a photography tour, talk, or custom private workshop for yourself or a group by internationally published, award-winning local photographer Rob Stimpson (call/text 705-787-8339, or email rob@robstimpson.com for more info and sign-up).

Hunstville really does have every type of winter experience for every type of traveller. Take the Huntsville Adventures online quiz to get acquainted with your own adventure persona and learn more about what you can do in the region for your next unforgettable trip!

Lead photo by

North Ridge Ranch Dog Sledding via Huntsville Adventures


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