Living in Toronto can make nature feel a million miles away. This is especially true in the winter, when the closeness of the buildings, the busy streets, and the slush limit the best that winter has to offer – tranquility, wide-open spaces blanketed in snow, and room to play.
In truth, however, the natural world is never too far away. Several provincial parks are open all winter and offer easy day visits for city-dwellers.
Here are some of the top parks near Toronto you need to check out this winter:
Darlington is a lovely GTA destination just off Highway 401, minutes from Oshawa.
Hikers and snowshoers will love the Burk Trail, which moves through fields, meadows, and mature forest past a pioneer cemetery to a scenic lookout over Lake Ontario. Winter visitors should also check out McLaughlin Bay Trail and Robinson Creek Trail.
Bring your snowshoes or cross-country skis and enjoy a wonderland experience close to home.
Distance from downtown Toronto: 45 minutes east, near Oshawa.
Aside from snowshoeing and 5 km of cross-country ski trails in the park, Bronte Creek also features a disc golf course and a toboggan hill.
The park also hosts exciting events to help cure your winter blues. The Victorian Christmas celebration held in late December and early January will take you back in time to the year 1900 at a Victorian farmhouse.
Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the New Years Eve Coyote Howl and the Maple Syrup Festival in March. All the details are available on the park’s events page.
Distance from downtown Toronto: 40 minutes southwest, just past Oakville.
Silent Lake is a bit further away than the other parks on this list, but trust us – it’s worth it. We’re talking some of the prettiest winter landscapes in southeastern Ontario.
More than 40 km of cross-country trails wind their way through hardwoods, cedar swamps, groves of White Birch and beech stands. The terrain is rugged, but ideal for family skiing.
Want to make it more than a day trip? Silent Lake offers heated yurts and camp cabins for those wanting to stay overnight.
Distance from downtown Toronto: 2.5 hours northeast, on the way to Bancroft.
While camping may be closed during the snowy season, Presqu’ile Provincial Park is open for day-use 365 days a year.
Many animals are more visible in the park once people are gone for the summer. Red Foxes, Wild Turkeys, and White-tailed Deer are all routinely seen.
Bald Eagles, Snow Buntings, and Snowy Owls are also frequent visitors. How many of them can you spot?
Distance from Toronto: 2 hours east, on the way to Belleville.
You’ve seen Wasaga Beach in the summer, but winter shows off a totally different side of the park. It has some of the most exciting Nordic ski terrain in central Ontario on over 30 km of groomed and track-set trails.
Expert skiers can challenge themselves on the High Dunes Trail while beginner skiers can choose the more leisurely Blueberry Trail.
No skies or snowshoes? No problem. The Wasaga Trail Centre offers modern equipment rentals in addition to light refreshments and warm-up and outback ski shelters heat up a lunch on a crisp winter day.
Distance from Toronto: Just under 2 hours north
Two words summarize Sibbald Point through the winter: “calm” and “quiet.” That means it’s the perfect spot for some winter fishing.
Lake Simcoe has excellent ice fishing opportunities for perch and whitefish. Just make sure you consult Ontario’s fishing regulations before you arrive (and remember your licence)!
Distance from Toronto: just over 1 hour north, 20 minutes outside Beaverton.