Algonquin Provincial Park is one of the most iconic places in Ontario all year round, and that’s for good reason!
With so many activities to try, the vast winter landscape is an opportunity for you to choose your own adventure.
Snowshoeing through the forest is rewarded by the scenic vistas and solitude. Winter camping gives you a stunning a view of the moon casting long shadows through the trees on a clear winter night. Making a discovery of your own by following tracks along the path is a real treat.
New this year: come to the West Gate on weekends for a campfire and fireside chats with park naturalists!
Here are seven reasons you need to visit this winter:
1. Winter camping choices
If you’re a summer camping enthusiast, now may be the time to put your skills to the test in a different season.
Algonquin has options for those who want to pitch a tent for the night. Mew Lake Campground offers plowed sites and a winterized comfort station. Sites can be reserved online or by phone at 1-888-ONT-PARK (1-888-668-7275).
If you want a more adventurous experience, Algonquin’s backcountry is open as well.
You must make a reservation for winter backcountry camping in Algonquin online or by calling 1-888-ONT-PARK (1-888-668-7275).
2. Roofed accommodations
Of course, if you’d like to stay overnight in a bit more comfort, there’s an option for that too.
Seven yurts in Mew Lake Campground are open all year long, and can be reserved online.
Each yurt has a table and chairs, as well as two bunk beds that can sleep up to six. It also has electrical heat, fluorescent lighting, and one electrical outlet.
Here’s a guide to winter and yurt camping in Ontario Parks.
3. Fireside chats with park naturalists
New this year: visitors can enjoy an outdoor campfire at West Gate on the weekends during gate operating hours.
Join a park naturalist in learning about some of Algonquin’s incredible winter wildlife. Bring your questions, pictures, and stories! New themes will be explored every session. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for details.
4. Winter wildlife viewing
Many of Algonquin’s resident animals stay active throughout the winter.
Hike any of our year-round trails for your chance to spot signs of these creatures.
Remember, you can help us record wildlife viewing at the park at the East Gate, West Gate, and the Visitor Centre or through the iNaturalist app.
Observant (and quiet) visitors will find tracks of Moose, martens, Fishers, otters, foxes, and elusive Algonquin Wolves, and may occasionally see the animals themselves.
Keep your eyes to the skies as well! Birds such as the Common Raven, Canada Jay, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, and colourful winter finches are common visitors.
Listen carefully for the calls of birds flying overhead, and the tapping of four species of woodpecker.
5. Iconic cross-country skiing
Whether you’re a cross-country skiing expert or a beginner looking for an easy glide through the woods, Algonquin has a ski trail for you.
There are 85 km of groomed and track-set ski trails across three trail networks, consisting of loops of varying lengths and difficulties.
The Fen Lake Trail system winds through hardwood forests typical of Algonquin’s west side. Here you’ll find 18 km of groomed and trackset ski trail. The trail offers some stunning views and some challenging terrain.
The Leaf Lake Ski Trail system is a premiere cross-country ski trail well-suited for experienced skiers. It features multiple loops that vary from easy to very challenging, with steep uphill sections and long downhills. The trails go through hardwood forests and offer lookouts and views of a number of lakes. There’s plenty to explore with 45 km of groomed and trackset trails.
If you are new to skiing, try the multi-purpose trail that starts at Mew Lake. It crosses the Old Airfield, and connects with the historic Old Railway Bike Trail.
Check the Ontario Parks Snow Report for updated ski and snow conditions.
6. Skating on the rink
Pack up the kids and spend the day on the ice.
Part of the parking lot in the Mew Lake Campground is turned into a modest skating rink in the winter. And in case you forget a stick, net, or pucks, Algonquin offers some on loan at the rink. Shinny, anyone?
7. Snowshoeing opportunities
Snowshoeing enthusiasts can go virtually anywhere in the park except the groomed and track-set cross-country ski trails. We recommend staying off ice as conditions can be unpredictable.
If you prefer a set trail, you might try one of the short walking trails along the Highway 60 corridor, or one of the two longer backpacking trails. Visit a park office for recommendations.
8. Winter biking
Snow on the trails no longer means that bike season is over; it means that winter biking season has begun!
Winter bikes are mountain bikes with oversized tires that allow cyclists to travel over snow with ease.
The Old Railway Bike Trail is the perfect spot to get out and try them out.
Check out Algonquin Outfitters at their Huntsville location. They offer a range of winter bike makes and models for rental and sale.
Visit Algonquin this winter
There’s so much at Algonquin to explore, and this list only scratches the surface!
To help guarantee access for day use, our visitors are now able to plan their trip ahead of time and obtain a daily vehicle permit in advance.
Reservations can be made online.
For more information, including how seasonal-permit holders can take advantage of this opportunity, please visit our website.
The quiet, snowy forests of Algonquin are an amazing place to reconnect with family, friends and nature. See you this winter!