The sun is shining, the gentle breeze is cutting the heat, and the soft waves are colliding against the shoreline behind you. This is it, the perfect spot to start a new beginning, a perfect spot to get married. Many people seek out the amazing backdrops of Ontario Parks to create unforgettable memories built upon laughter and smiles with family and friends while experiencing nature through camping, hiking, swimming, etc. So, why not have that perfect backdrop for one of the most important days of your life?
Summer campers love Ontario Parks but many have never experienced their favourite park in winter. Ontario Parks aims to change that. Nineteen provincial parks are open this winter season with cross-country trails to ski. Thirteen have groomed or track-set trails. And eight of the nineteen have comfortable roofed accommodation for rent. Designated snowshoe trails are in many parks. Some have skating and tubing too. Three parks will host ski loppets. Another will host an annual snowshoe race and at least five plan to celebrate February’s Family Day weekend with special events. Below are tips to help visitors plan their own exotic park adventure this winter:
Whether you ski for fun, race, or love a good workout, cross-country skiing is an opportunity to see Ontario Parks at their winter best. Ontario Parks’ have some of the best cross-country skiing in Canada. Local nordic ski clubs help us to maintain many park trail networks. In Arrowhead, Sleeping Giant, and Quetico Provincial Parks, there are also annual ski loppets you can join. These have become increasingly popular with cross-country skiers. These ‘loppet’ parks also have heated roofed accommodation in the form of cabins, cottages and yurts. While the roofed accommodations often book up quickly during loppets or on weekends, mid-week bookings are still pretty easy to get, even at the last minute. If you can’t find availability, try Resorts of Ontario, which has a range of member resorts located near Ontario Parks across the province. Family Day is also a big deal at select Ontario Parks every winter. For a look at Family Day 2015, check the Park Blog events post. A complete listing of winter events is on the Ontario Parks web site at http://www.ontarioparks.com/events.
Ontario Parks on the Great Lakes are for storm watching. November is when the fiercest storms often occur. One of the worst was the Great Storm of 1913. The massive November gale lasted three days, sank 19 ships, stranded 19 more and killed 244 mariners. More recently Hurricane Sandy packed a punch when it hit a cold front over the Great Lakes in October 2012. Lake Huron winds were clocked at 119 kilometres an hour (74 miles per hour) and waves grew to seven metres (23 feet) high. Ontario Parks are known for their storm watching vistas on the Great Lakes. These four parks located on the Great Lakes even have cozy roofed accommodation for stormy nights:
1. Book a Prince Edward County adventure
Maple Rest Heritage House is a four-bedroom Victorian farmhouse. Jacques Cottage has a beautiful view of Lake Ontario. You can book either for a fall getaway to Prince Edward County this fall through Sandbanks Provincial Park.
Check out these tips from staff on how to explore a less busy side of Algonquin in the fall.
Looking for a new place to run? Try Ontario Parks. Softer trail surfaces minimize the impact on runner joints and backs. Runners have over 1,800 kilometres of trails to choose from. Park landscapes are spectacular and many parks offer roofed accommodation. Derrick Spafford is a regular trail runner at Frontenac Provincial Park which has 160 kilometres of trails, one of the largest trail networks east of the Canadian Rockies. In this Park Blog, Spafford shares his trail running tips and three favourite Frontenac trails.
All kinds of sporting events are held at Ontario Parks every year. Trail runs, road races, triathlons, cycling events, cross-country ski events, and even a hiker’s challenge. At least one of the running events is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon.
Check the Ontario Parks’ calendar of events for listings. New events are added all the time. Friends volunteer organizations plan many of the sporting events and often have event information on their websites.
The countdown to fall has begun; children are returning to school, sweaters and long pants are reappearing and birds and butterflies are beginning their migratory journeys. Some of us experience a kind of grieving at this time of year; we mourn for the long hot days of summer. But others celebrate fall – a time of glorious colour, quiet parks and few bugs.
Only a few regions of the world offer the kind of spectacular, showy fall colours that Ontario is famous for. The climate and deciduous trees of Northeastern North America provide the perfect storm for transforming our lush green foliage into the brilliant reds, yellows and oranges.
If you are looking for an enchanting way to ride out the rest of the summer or early fall, why not tour the coast of Lake Superior and finish your journey at Thunder Bay and Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park? The coastline boasts several different parks that follow Lake Superior north and west. When you reach the lakehead (Thunder Bay, Ontario’s western end of the lake), travel inland to Kakabeka Falls, home to the second largest waterfall in Ontario.
Here are some of the cool events happening this August at Ontario Parks.
For a complete listing, visit our Calendar of Events
Wasaga Under Siege at Wasaga Beach Provincial Park
This is the year to visit! Many extra-special activities have been planned for this 200th Anniversary of the Sinking of the HMS Nancy. Enemy forces are planning to attack Wasaga Beach! Our Peaceful shores have not seen this many cannons, muskets and bayonets since the HMS Nancy sank in the Nottawasaga River in 1814. Join us on the battlefields, or at the encampment on the Nancy Island Historic Site where hundreds of re-enactors attack and avenge the demise of the HMS Nancy. A weekend full of events for the entire family. www.wasagaundersiege1812.com