"Winter is awesome!" I'm sure it's a statement that can be debated by some. Like many things in life, the first steps are the hardest, and developing a love for winter is no exception. Luckily, in Algoma, winters are long, and the snow is plentiful, but no need to despair; there are plenty of ways to embrace winter and love every minute of it. Here are a few winter activity ideas that will make winter lovers everywhere jealous.
With over 30,000 km of groomed trail, to say that snowmobiling in Ontario is world-class is no exaggeration. With 10% of those trails in Algoma, along with the most snow and the most extended season in the northeast, I think it is safe to say that Algoma has some of the best snowmobiling in the world. Head out for a day or a few, follow a pre-planned loop or with the new Go Snowmobiling Ontario App in hand, see where the trail will take you. For those with the skills and gear to venture beyond the groomed trail, there is the Algoma backcountry. Here, thousands of acres of powder await.
Ski or Snowboard
With an annual natural snow accumulation measured in metres and with 700 feet (228 metres) vertical, 21 runs, and all amenities for a fantastic day on the slopes, Algoma's Searchmont Ski Resort offers the best skiing in the Midwest. With recent improvements to snowmaking, grooming, rental equipment, and a new restaurant, this will be the best winter yet.
If steep and deep is your thing, then the good folks at Bellevue Valley Lodge have been showing off the snow-loaded hardwood hills of Algoma for 25 years, offering some of the best backcountry skiing and boarding anywhere. While the terrain in Bellevue Valley can be challenging, worry not—there is something here for every level.
It's no secret, Algoma has incredible fishing—and that awesomeness doesn't stop because the lake freezes over, it just requires a different approach. The basis of ice fishing is surprisingly uncomplicated: cut a hole in the ice, drop a line, and you're doing it. That said, your success ratio increases with additional gear and experience, hence a fishing guide might be a good idea, as they provide everything you need for a fantastic day on the frozen water.
Just because the calendar says winter, it doesn't mean the cycling season is over. Winter might be the best cycling season—fat biking season, that is. As snow covers the ground, every walking or snowshoeing path in the parks and conservation areas becomes a potential fat bike trail. But if Algoma's best fat biking experience is what you're after, Crimson Ridge is the place to be, located in Sault Ste. Marie. They have been grooming fat bike trails here for a few seasons now. Fat bike rentals can be arranged with Velorution Bike & Ski, they deliver, and new for this season at Crimson Ridge, a place to hang out pre or post-ride—it just keeps getting better.
Cross Country Skiing
I can't think of an activity that makes the best of winter more than cross-country skiing. Sure there is a bit of a learning curve, which is fun in its own right, but when you master the basics, your effort to reward ratio jumps up tenfold as you glide down the trail with each kick. Add a knapsack with lunch and a thermos full of hot chocolate to enjoy by a roaring fire in a log cabin far from anywhere, and you've got the perfect way to spend a winter day. So, where is this magical place? There are many: Blind River, Elliot Lake, even here at the edge of Sault Ste. Marie at Hiawatha Highlands, and of course, Stokely Creek Lodge.
Enjoying winter does not get any easier than snowshoeing. Basically, it's a walk in the park—and anywhere else you might want to venture. Just because you can partake in the activity at any time and any place doesn't mean you shouldn't follow a trail with purpose. Try a loop at Hiawatha Highlands in search of frozen waterfalls, at Stokely Creek Lodge take in the view from King Mountain, or head out on one of the hiking trails at Lake Superior Provincial Park.
A Cabin in the woods
Short days and long nights might be a downside of the winter season for some, but if the long evenings are spent by a roaring fire, in a cozy cabin surrounded by the dark snowy landscape of an Algoma forest, I say bring on the night. After a day of doing any of the activities mentioned above, the best reward might just be doing nothing, and luckily in Algoma, you will find cottages, cabins, and lodges where doing nothing is encouraged.
Yes, winter is awesome. Why debate it, just embrace it.