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A Guide to the Best Snowshoeing in Ontario

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A Guide to the Best Snowshoeing in Ontario

Embrace the magic of winter. • Credit: Destination Ontario

It’s an easy, affordable and fun winter adventure

Learn what you need to go snowshoeing. Discover the best snowshoeing trails and getaways in Ontario.



Safely discover Ontario when the time is right. For the most up-to-date information on where and when it is safe to travel please visit: covid-19.ontario.ca.

Do your part by following public health advice. It is important to wear a face mask or covering, practice physical distancing, and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

If you love hiking then you’ll love recreational snowshoeing. It’s an easy, affordable and safe winter activity that allows you to easily travel on scenic trails or adventure into the pristine powder snow of the backcountry.

Whether you choose a day trip, a weekend getaway or a weeklong expedition, snowshoeing is one of the best ways to explore Ontario’s beautiful landscapes and connect to nature.

What are Snowshoes? 

Man doing up a snowshoe harness for a woman.
Snowshoes allow you to walk on snow without sinking.  Source: Destination Ontario 

The snowshoe, rooted in Indigenous ingenuity, is often considered a symbol of Canadian identity and culture. Snowshoes are footwear resembling large rackets that are attached to your winter boots or moccasins. They distribute your weight over a larger area which prevents you from sinking too far into the snow.

Types of Snowshoes 

Traditionally, snowshoes differed in size and shape depending on the user and the terrain they were going to be used in. They were handmade of wood and rawhide. Although these designs still inspire modern models, most snowshoes are now mass-produced and feature aluminum frames and steel cleats. 

Close of of man wearing a modern snowshoe on forest trail
Modern snowshoes are light weight with easy to use harnesses. Source: Destination Ontario

If you are planning to snowshoe occasionally on well-travelled trails, you can purchase entry-level snowshoes ranging in price from $100 to $170 for adults and $70 for children.  

If you are an outdoor enthusiast and will be snowshoeing on trails plus in the backcountry, it’s worth investing in technically advanced, high performance snowshoes ranging in price from $200 to $350.

Snowshoe rentals are available from many outfitters, national and provincial parks, and lodges for approximately $17 to $25 per day for adults and $15 per day for youth/children. Snowshoeing poles can be rented for $5 per day. Discounts apply for longer rentals. 

What to Wear Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing has similar physical demands to trekking or hiking. This means you will heat up and sweat if you’re overdressed in heavy layers. You’re better off with lots of light layers so you can adjust your temperature more easily. Be sure to check the weather forecast before heading out.

Woman and man snowshoeing on a lake
Dress in layers so you can adjust your temperature. Source: Destination Ontario

Here’s our recommendation for clothing and boots for a day trip:

  • Base layer thermal top and bottoms
  • Fleece or wool sweater
  • Vest (if really cold)
  • Soft shell jacket
  • Soft shell pants or light snow pants
  • Scarf
  • Warm hiking socks
  • Hat and/or headband
  • Light gloves and mittens
  • Waterproof walking boots (with ankle support)
  • Gaiters (to stop snow from getting into your boots)
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Snowshoes and poles
  • Medium backpack (large enough to carry any layers you don’t need)
    • Spare warm hat
    • Spare gloves
    • Food and water
    • First aid kit
    • Mobile phone & charger

Best snowshoeing in Ontario 

The only thing you really need for snowshoeing is snow. So it stands to reason that the best places to snowshoe in Ontario are the regions that get consistent snowfall. These areas embrace the winter season by creating fabulous snowshoeing adventures and celebrating all things snow.

So don’t be discouraged if you are in an area with little or no snow—just head to a nearby snow destination for a lodge-based or winter camping getaway.   

Man stoking a fire and a woman reading in a log cabin
Enjoy a log cabin getaway. Source: Destination Ontario 

Cozy Cabin/Lodge and Snowshoe Getaways 

Best Getaway #1: Northwest Algonquin Park
Package:
Algonquin Park Snowshoe and Chalet Getaway with Voyageur Quest
Why You’ll Love It: It’s the perfect three-night winter getaway in Algonquin’s northwest corner. Explore the scenic Forgotten Trails. Snowshoe the Moose Mountain Trail (2-km loop), discover the breathtaking lookout on the Laurier Fire Tower Trail (2 km), enjoy the 8.5-km Loxton Beaver looped trail or make your own trail. Relax at night in front of a wood-burning fireplace in your solar-powered chalet suite complete with two bedrooms, one washroom, a fully equipped kitchen and more.

Best Getaway #2: Goulais River (near Sault Ste. Marie)
Package:
The Best in Backcountry Snowshoeing at Bellevue Valley Lodge
Why You’ll Love It: According to Mountain Life magazine, you don’t need to travel to the Rockies for backcountry snowshoeing or skiing. You’ll find genuine Ontario backcountry at Bellevue Valley Lodge. With over 3 m of snow piling up annually, you’ll find endless terrain to explore. At the end of the day, cure your sore muscles in an authentic wood sauna, then cool off with a dip in the fishpond. Sleep well in the fully equipped guest chalet or stay in the main house bed and breakfast suite.

Woman and girl running on snowshoes in deep powder snow
It's fun to play in powder snow. Source: Destination Ontario 

Best Getaway #3: South Gillies (near Thunder Bay)
Package: Cozy Log Cabin Getaway at
Rose Valley Lodge & Restaurant
Why You’ll Love It: Enjoy nature trails, bird and wildlife watching, and wilderness skiing and snowshoeing on 400 acres of forests, meadows and ancient mountains. Then dine on a delectable meal of European flare and stay in a rustic log cabin, complete with Jacuzzi bath tub. Find out more.

Best Getaway #4: Huntsville
Package:
Cedar Grove Lakeside Log Cottage Getaway
Why You’ll Love It: Escape to the magic of winter. Located on the shores of Peninsula Lake, Cedar Grove Lodge offers the best of winter activities with onsite snowshoe and  cross-country ski trails and outdoor skating. For more winter fun, visit nearby Arrowhead Park or Algonquin Park. At night, cozy up in your rustic to luxurious log cottage with a wood-burning stone fireplace. Savour two delicious meals a day. Find out more.      

Two snowshoers walking on frozen lake
Discover the stunning winterscape of Lake Superior. Source: Destination Ontario

Best Getaway #5: Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
Package:
Romantic Getaway in Lakeside Log Cabin at Beyond the Giant  
Why You’ll Love It: The breathtaking terrain of nearby Sleeping Giant makes it one of the best places in Ontario for winter fun. After an active day snowshoeing on easy to challenging trails or on Lake Superior, cozy up by the fire in your secluded log cabin at Beyond the Giant. Candles, a gift basket, fresh-baked bread and local foods make this getaway extra special.

Winter Camping and Backcountry Snowshoe Getaways  

After spending the day outside snowshoeing in the backcountry, there’s nothing better than warming up in a heated canvas tent or yurt. There are many options for winter camping in Ontario and with a little extra planning, it can be just as fun as summer camping. Find out more.

Large white canvas tent with smoke coming out chimney, snowshoes standing in snow
Stay warm and cozy on a traditional winter camping expedition. Source: Destination Ontario

Best Getaway #6: Northern Ontario
Package:
Lure of the North Guided Traditional Winter Camping Expeditions
Why You’ll Love It: This is the ultimate backcountry snowshoeing and camping adventure. All expeditions, ranging from seven to 15 days, are “traditional winter camping” trips. You’ll travel by snowshoe, pulling all your gear on a toboggan. At night, sleep on a bed of boughs in a large canvas hot tent, heated by a wood stove. Learn more.

Best Getaway #7: Haliburton Highlands
Package:
Yours Outdoors’ Biboon-o-sheewin Excursion
Why You’ll Love It: According to Yours Outdoors, “biboon-o-sheewin” is an Aboriginal word for traditional winter camping—which is exactly what you’ll learn to do on this two-night, three-day workshop. Using snowshoes, toboggans and wood-heated tents, you’ll experience life as Indigenous people and early trappers once didLearn more.

Three people talking outside a green yurt in winter.
Stay in an Ontario Parks yurt. Source: Destination Ontario

Best Getaway #8: Various Ontario Parks
Package:
Backcountry Snowshoe and Yurt Getaways
Why You’ll Love It: Spend your days exploring the winter wonderland on snowshoes. Travel deep into the snow-covered forest. Watch for animal tracks, listen for birds and look for nests high in the trees. Return to the warmth and comfort of your yurt. Winter yurt camping is available in Algonquin, Killarney, MacGregor Point, Pinery, Silent Lake and Windy Lake provincial parks. Learn more.    

Snowshoeing at Ontario Parks 

Ontario Parks is a great place to discover the magic of winter. There are 31 provincial parks that are open during the winter season. Most offer snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, tubing, skating and more. Many of these parks are within easy travel distance from Toronto or Ottawa. Go for the day or stay overnight

Moose
Winter is the best time to see animal tracks. Source: Destination Ontario 

Did you know winter is the best time to learn the secrets of Ontario’s wildlife? Exploring by snowshoe is a great way to see tracks and learn about how the animals survive in the winter. It’s fascinating to discover snowshoe hare, moose, deer, fox, lynx, fisher and other tracks in the woods.  

Before travelling, be sure to check the Ski Report to find out trail and snow conditions.

Top 8 ONTARIO Parks for Snowshoeing 

The following parks are located in great snow areas. They have excellent designated snowshoe trails, non-winterized roads and backcountry forests to explore. They also offer onsite snowshoe rentals and other services.

Windy Lake – Strap on your snowshoes and venture into the boreal forest. Warm up in the ski chalet open on weekends from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Stay in a yurt.

Killarney – Explore the incredible backcountry trails. Snowshoe to Silver Peak or The Crack. Warm up in the hut located in the day-use area. Stay in a yurt, camp cabin or tent.   

Backcountry winter camping is a great for dark sky photography. Source: Destination Ontario

Algonquin – Snowshoe enthusiasts can go virtually anywhere within the park except on cross-country ski trails. If you prefer a signed and set trail, the Logging Museum Trail (1.3-km loop) is easy, the Hemlock Bluff Trail (3.5 km) is moderate, and the Western Uplands Trail and Highland Trail offer longer, moderate-to-difficult snowshoeing. Stay in a yurt, camp cabin or tent.

Arrowhead – Explore the 8+ km of marked snowshoe trails, as well as off-trail snowshoeing through mature hardwood forest. See map here. Arrowhead is very busy on the weekends. Get tips on planning your winter visit.

Many Ontario Parks trails have bird feeders and friendly chickadees. Source: Steve Bruno 

Frontenac – There’s lots of opportunities for signed trail and backcountry snowshoeing. Try winter camping on one of the park’s interior campsites.

Pinery – Snowshoe the Cedar Trail (2.3 km) or the Heritage Trail (3 km). Explore the ungroomed roads, trails and backcountry forest. See map. Stay overnight in a yurt.

Silent Lake – Explore the well-signed Bonnie’s Pond snowshoe trail (3 km) through mature beech trees, or snowshoe on 5.25 km of the groomed yellow ski trail. 

Wasaga Beach – Snowshoe on the 10-km trail that has abundant white-tailed deer and winter birds. Warm up in the Wasaga Trail Centre.

Best snowshoe trails in Ontario 

There are endless snowshoeing opportunities in Ontario. You can go on a managed trail or explore off-trail in the backcountry.

Group of people snowshoeing on a trail in forest
Managed trails are signed and include many points of interest. Source: Destination Ontario 

Managed trails provide an excellent experience and are the safest place to snowshoe. The trails are mapped and rated for difficulty (easy to difficult) based on length and type of terrain you will be travelling on. The trails have directional signs and will be travelled by other snowshoers. It’s important to select a trail that matches your skill level. Snowshoe rentals will be available from local outfitters near or at popular managed Ontario snowshoe trails.

If you decide to explore the backcountry on your own, you should have a good understanding of wilderness travel and know the risk. You should always travel with at least one other person, have a map and first aid kit, and be prepared to spend a night in the woods if necessary. Ontario Parks offer excellent backcountry snowshoeing opportunities. To get started, you can learn how to backcountry snowshoe and winter camp with outfitters like Lure of the North and Yours Outdoors

Best Managed Snowshoe Trails in Ontario 

One of the best resources to find a managed trail is Ontario Trails. You can search by region, sub-region, towns and trail names, as well as by activity. All trails are rated using a 1 (Easy) to 5 (Difficult) system.

Find a snowshoeing trail in a Conservation Area near you. If staying local, you can also just Google “snowshoeing trails near me.”

TIP – Check the Ontario Parks Ski Report to find out snow conditions for parks in the area you want to explore. If the park has lots of snow, then the local trails should have lots of snow too.

Find the perfect trail for your snowshoe adventure by region.

Whether you choose a day trip, a weekend getaway or a weeklong expedition, snowshoeing is one of the best ways to explore Ontario’s beautiful landscapes and connect to nature.

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