When the snow falls, skis or snowshoes are the ideal way to travel. In the city, you can ski at parks and on multi-use trails. But just a short drive from Toronto you can find a number of conservation centres and natural areas with excellent trails groomed just for cross-country skiing, many with rentals for kids and adults.
Unless otherwise indicated, rentals refer to ski equipment only. Always call ahead to find out about snow conditions and opening hours.
Halton and Hamilton
Near Hamilton, this natural area has 40 km of multi-use trails. Horses, cyclists, and pedestrians share the trail with skiiers and snowshoers. These trails may be too rugged for younger or less-experienced skiiers.
650 Governors Rd., Dundas
The 14 km of ungroomed trails along the edge of the Mountsberg Reservoir and through wooded areas are easy skiing for kids and beginners. It’s also home to the Raptor Centre, where you can see up to two dozen birds of prey.
2259 Milburough Line, Campbellville
Beautiful groomed trails cut through forest and open meadows, along 16 km, suitable for beginners. It’s dog-friendly, too!
4985 Campbellville Rd., Milton
Check out the evening snowshoe hikes for families in January and February at this conservation area. There are 19 km of trails for skiing or snowshoeing here.
3115 Conservation Rd., Milton
Find options for beginner- to advanced-level skiiers and everyone in between among the 26 km of groomed trails at this 446-hectare forested conservation area. Bonus: a heated chalet, plus tobogganing and ice-skating. Rentals available.
16500 Highway 50, Bolton
The trail winds its way over hills and through valleys, among woodlands dominated with eastern white cedar, sugar maple and white ash. If you take some of the side trails you’ll also see a kettle lake, meadows and wetland areas. Best known for its ski trails, winter is a good time to try this trail. There are 16 kilometres (10 miles) of groomed trails that wind throughout the forest and link through loops to the Bruce Trail.
On 325 hectares, this conservation areas has year-round multi-use, ungroomed trails accessible to skiiers and snowshoers. Consider skiing the Power Trip Trail, a 1.6-km trail linking demonstrations on renewable energy and sustainable building.
9550 Pine Valley Dr., Woodbridge
The Waterfront Trail is a 6 km trail that follows the shore of Lake Ontario, virtually uninterrupted from Niagara-on-the-Lake to the Quebec-Ontario border. Along the way there are great views of Lake Ontario and plenty of amenities (washrooms and refreshments) available in Rotary Park at Duffins Creek.
With 17 kms of trail to explore, Beaver River Wetlands Trail is a cross-country skiier’s dream come true. The Beaver River Trail is one of the best ways to access and savour the smells, sights and sounds of the pristine and largely undeveloped Beaver River wetland. Just remember to have someone pick you up at the end or turn around at some point… this is a linear trail!
The 6 km Blue Trail forms a portion of the Ganaraska Forest’s extensive network of cross-country ski trails. The trail meanders through beautiful hardwood forests and pine plantations.
Within the city limits, cross-country skiing is generally a DIY operation. You can ski (weather-permitting) in High Park, on the Toronto Islands, along the Humber Trail, the Don Valley trails, or on the Etobicoke Creek Trail. But you will need your own skis. Call 311 to find information on ski areas in particular parks or access points and conditions of trails.
Barrie and Collingwood
These spots are outside the GTA, but you could still experience the skiing on a day trip. (Hey, if you’ve got small kids, you’re up early anyway, right?) And just think of that quiet car trip home after skied-out kids have nodded off in the backseat following an amazing day in the great outdoors!
But if you just can’t stomach driving home the same day, most of these centres have overnight accommodations, too.
An amazing place to ski, this year-round adventure centre near Blue Mountain Resort has excellent snow conditions, 27 km of groomed trails that are clearly marked and rated for levels beginner to advanced, and the opportunity to ski (or snowshoe) through a 200-year-old forest, along escarpments with fantastic views, and even over a 420-foot-long, 25-meter-high suspension bridge with views for 10,000 square km on a clear day. Rentals include not only skis, but snowshoes, skate-skis, and Baby Glider pull-sleds. Also available: lessons, warm-up huts, snack bar, first-aid stations.
260 Scenic Caves Rd., Blue Mountains
This year-round resort with downhill skiing, golfing (summer), and winter adventure activities (tubing, fat biking, snowmobiling) has 40 km of groomed trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. It’s dog-friendly, too! In addition to skis, you can rent skates and snowshoes and take lessons. Onsite area pro shop, a restaurant, and a spa.
1101 Horseshoe Valley Rd. W.
This Georgian Bay centre is built for cross-country skiing. It has beautiful views on its 25 km of groomed trails through woods and along Wasaga Beach lowland areas. You can toboggan on a groomed hill (BYO toboggan). It has ski and snowshoe rentals, plus lessons, a pro shop, and a café.
1182 Nottawasaga Concession 10 S., Duntroon
Designed for cross-country skiiers, snowshoers, and mountain bikers (including winter fat-biking), this adventure centre has eight ski trails, ranging from 3 km to 22 km in length, for beginning to advanced skiiers, through wooded areas and meadowlands. Rentals include skis, snowshoes, pulks (child snow sleds), fat bikes, and child bike trailers; they have on-site lessons, a service shop, a cafe, and overnight accommodations.
402 Old Barrie Rd. W., Oro-Medonte
Walk + Roll Peel (Peel-region trails)