Winter adventures at Rushing River Provincial Park

Today’s post comes from Isabella Schives, a Senior Park Clerk from Rushing River Provincial Park.

Now that the seasons have changed and snow blankets the ground, the natural beauty of this vibrant and popular summertime park takes on an incredible transformation.

Icicles begin hanging from trees and buildings, fresh snow crunches underneath your feet, and the brisk, cold air provides a refreshing feeling with every breath.

Each step takes you further away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life as you relax into the tranquility and peace of wintertime at Rushing River Provincial Park.

1. Be one with nature

With plenty of wildlife in the area, keep your eyes open for animals that may be easier to spot in the snow-covered landscape.

You might see a squirrel scurrying through the snow foraging for food or a fox digging holes. On exceedingly rare occasions, you might even spot a lynx across the lake blending into the snow.

Countless non-migratory bird species stay at the park throughout the year. Listen closely, and you will hear the chirp of a Black-capped Chickadee or even the call of a Canada Jay.

Canada Jay

Look along the forest floor to find animal tracks you may not often see, such as an otter. Some tracks may be easy to identify, but others will be difficult. Common tracks at the park are wolf, rabbit, squirrel, grouse, fox, deer, otter, dogs, and of course, humans.

We recommend a good pair of binoculars for those who want a closer look.

Turn this into a game with the family and guess which animal track belongs to who! At the end of the hike, whoever has the most points can call themselves the “Animal Tracker of the Day.”

2. Cross-country skiing

For those who enjoy cross-country skiing, the park offers 18 km of groomed skate and classical ski trails to explore.

We offer a variety of difficulty levels (novice to intermediate) and lengths (one to six kilometres). We recommend more experienced skiers try the 4.7 km Trail “G.”

All trails are loops and follow park roads adjacent to Dogtooth Lake. There is also a single-track trail that winds through mature stands of Jack Pine.

For current trail conditions, be sure to check out the Ontario Parks Snow Report.

Don’t forget to bring all the supplies you need for a day on the trails. Bring a hat, mittens, and cozy socks. Wear warm clothing in layers to allow your body to warm up or cool off as your activity level fluctuates.

3. Snowshoeing

Looking for a fun, low-impact workout? Try snowshoeing!

Although there are no designated snowshoe trails, visitors can experience the park’s hiking trails in a new way by strapping on some snowshoes.

Please keep in mind that ski trails are shared trails; snowshoers are asked to stay on the side of the groomed tracks.

Always remember safety first. Tell someone when and where you are going, and which activity you are participating in. Avoid visiting the park alone. Know your limits to avoid overexerting yourself.

4. Take a winter walk in the park

We understand not everyone is a cross-country skier.

If that sounds like you, simply start with a winter walk through the park to revel in winter’s beauty. A perfect way to become more active this winter.

Since the park’s ski trails are groomed primarily for cross-country skiers, we ask that walkers do not use these trails to avoid damaging the groomed trails and tracks.

Instead, walkers can enjoy a winter stroll along the park entrance/exit loop road and down to the boat launch and back.

Signs are posted at the park to help identify where not to walk.

5. Enjoy a winter picnic

Ready to rest, recharge, and warm up? Purchase firewood from the Park Office and enjoy a warm lunch next to the rapids.

Winter Park Office hours will be 8:00 am to 3:00 pm from mid-February onward. Note: office hours may vary at times.

Please take all your garbage out with you. After lunch, continue to enjoy the park!

Book your permit online

Park visitors require a valid permit for day use, even in the winter.

You can buy your daily vehicle permit up to five days in advance online (or on the day of your visit). We recommend you arrange for your permit online before you head out to the park. (Have a seasonal permit? You can use it when booking online!)

Otherwise, you can scan one of the QR codes at the park with your cell phone to pay onsite. QR codes are located at the Park Office, picnic shelter and parking lots.

Planning to visit more than once this winter?

Consider buying an Ontario Parks seasonal permit!

Our 2022/23 Winter Day-Use Vehicle Permit ($60 + HST) is valid until March 31, 2023.

An annual daily vehicle permit ($99 + HST) is another option if you plan to visit our parks all year round.

Seasonal permits will also be available for purchase at the Park Office during winter operating hours (8:00 am to 3:00 pm starting in mid-February). Drop by to get your permit and purchase a warm beverage or souvenir at the same time.

Make the most of winter and plan your visit to Rushing River today!

Rushing River Provincial Park is a 30 minute drive from Kenora via Highways 17 and 71. For more information about winter at Rushing River, call the Park Office at 807-548-4351.