Opening your front door to see mountains of snow reminds you that you're truly in the North. Our region really does have the types of winter you hear about on the news – the towering snowbanks, the polar-vortex temperatures. But what the news doesn't tell you is that winter creates another season of adventure Algoma Country. There are countless activities here to keep you active and having fun.
Here are 10 winter activities you should do this winter in Algoma:
1. Ice Fishing
So what if the lake froze over? That doesn't keep anglers off the lake. Ice fishing is a way of life in the North; the frozen lakes with a hole drilled through the thick ice, fishers secure in a warm ice hut – and you can't forget the peaceful surroundings, which make this experience even more enjoyable. Many of Algoma's operators are open year-round, so there is always a warm comfortable place to stay. These accommodations offer variety of amenities, such as easy access from snowmobile trails, ice huts, and more.
Must Reads: Read our Ice Fishing Guide here.
Snowmobiling is one of the most exciting ways to experience Ontario's breathtaking winter landscape. Algoma Country consists of over 1,400 miles of groomed trails, carved through the rugged Canadian Shield and old growth forests. You'll travel through remote areas known only to snowmobilers. There are snowmobile loops for a snowmobile weekend getaway, and trail loops so that you can plan a weeklong trip. There are snowmobile-friendly communities located throughout the trail system where you'll find incredible accommodations, great places to eat, and many services along the way.
Learn more: www.sledalgoma.com
3. Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing
Nothing compares to gliding across snow through our region's wintery landscape. It's peaceful, with the sights and sounds only found during these months: frozen waterfalls and rock faces glazed in ice and snow, the sounds of winter birds, and the tracks of animals that winter in our region. It's blissfully quiet, as if the landscape had gone to sleep. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are the perfect activities to keep you active, but it's also something fun to look forward to do during the colder months. Although there are many groomed hills, you can snowshoe or cross country ski on anywhere that has snow. If you want to snowshoe at home or at a local park you can.
4. Downhill Skiing & Snowboarding
Do you love the thrill and excitement of tackling a snow cover mountain on skis? Check out another Algoma favourite: downhill skiing and snowboarding at one of our region's ski resorts. Our ski hills can accommodate every level and all ages from beginner to moderate to experienced. Ski hills are groomed daily so there are always visual trails throughout the hill and there are qualified instructors who can teach you. And did we mention the view? From the top of the mountains you'll have a spectacular panoramic view of the Algoma wilderness. Ski trips are great for families, with groups of good friends, couples, or even the solo traveller.
5. Winter Festivals & Carnivals
Everyone jokes how long the winter season can be but there are so many events taking place that will keep you active and enjoying the season. Our region's biggest winter carnival is the Bon Soo Winter Carnival, which hosts an immense variety of events held over 10 days for all ages with indoor & outdoor events, concerts, breakfasts, dinners, contests, tournaments and of course the famous Polar Bear Swim and ice slides!
6. Ice Climbing
If you're looking for a world-renowned extreme sport, you'll be pleased to learn that there is one in the Algoma region: ice climbing. It's true that our wilderness is that remote which means our area is relatively unexplored by climbers. Each winter brings a new twist to the ice climbing locations. Even the practice routes done by the guides can be first ascents. There have been over 100 ice climbs in 14 different locations discovered in the surrounding area: ice climbing in the famous Agawa Canyon, or the Montreal River Harbour climbs which have amazing views of Lake Superior. Expert guides assist you during the climbs.
7. Go Tobogganing & Ice Skating
Tobogganing is a favourite in Algoma Country. What could be better than running up a big hill and racing down the slope at lightning speed? As I child, I would trek up big hills with my brothers and once we got up to the top, we would settle on to our toboggans and down we would go at an incredible speed! I could feel my adrenaline pumping from the thrill and excitement. These are special moments that I shared with them that I will never forget. After being outside for hours, we would go inside and my mother would make us mugs of steamy homemade hot chocolate. This is one of my favourite childhood memories. There are many hills in Algoma Country to toboggan down – you just have to find the right one! It doesn't matter how old you are, it's all about having fun.
In almost every community in Ontario, you can find an outdoor ice skating rink. This is one of the most popular things to do. Learning how to skate, going out with friends and family to play a fun and competitive hockey game is something us Northerners look forward to every year. That feeling when everyone is together is what makes this moment even better. You forget about all the day's worries, and enjoy the crisp air and the feeling that you're at an outdoor hockey game, or a skating competition.
Resource: Algoma's Cities & Towns
8. Take a Sleigh Ride
Who doesn't love a sleigh ride? The sleigh ride at Mockingbird Hill Farm in Sault Ste. Marie is a traditional horse-drawn sleigh that leads through the snowy forest on the grounds of the farm. You'll pass historic buildings like the Old Goulais Church, the Buchan House, and the Trapper's Camp. After being out in the crisp winter air, you group can relax in the wood-heated, lantern-lit Old Church to warm up with some hot chocolate. Sleigh rides are not just for families, they're for everyone. You can book a romantic sleigh for two, snuggled up in a mound of warm dry hay listening to the sounds of the heel chains, and stargazing through the enchanting forest. All sleigh rides are booked on the hour at $170 which include taxes. If you decide to rent The Old Church it's an additional $60 for two hours after the ride.
9. Snowball Fights, Snow Angels, Snow Forts & Snowmen
It's a one of those days. You wake up, look outside and you have twice as much snow as you did the day before. What do you do? Bundle up and have a snowball fight, make snow angels, or build a fort with your family and friends. All of these are a great ways to get everyone outside, active and having fun. People of all ages love to play in the snow especially when you have the opportunity to throw snowballs at each other! Remember how much you loved a snow day? Waking up to listen to the news, realizing the school bus was cancelled due to the weather. A day out of school! Freedom to play in the snow! Even though you may be a little older now, you can still have snow day. Go outside, dress warm and build a fort with your friends. The more people working on it, the better it will be. After a long day of being outside, go inside and keep warm with a nice hot chocolate. You deserve it.
Here are some resources to help you out:
10. stargazing and the northern lights
In the winter months, skies are clearer and darkness is far longer, this is a great time to view the northern lights! Bundle up warm and head out along the north shore of Lake Superior, or into a country setting where you'll have little to no light pollution. Read this great article about how to photograph the northern lights. Track the northern lights: