Winter has arrived and at the centre of it all is Sault Ste. Marie. This Northern Ontario city is the perfect destination once the snow falls—offering easy access to some of Algoma’s best winter attractions. Travellers with an appetite for adventure will find Soo’s hills, trails, and waterways within easy reach, and everything else is just a short road trip away. Discover how getting outdoors and doing something new is good for the soul and a terrific way to truly enjoy winter. Follow in the steps of the locals who embrace the season. Celebrate, not hibernate!
What will your winter adventures look like in Sault Ste. Marie? Check out these extraordinary experiences and discover why the is Soo a perfect base for your winter adventures.
Cycle the trails on a fat bike
No need to stop cycling when the snow flies. Fat bikes with their oversized tires are ideal for snowy and icy conditions. The Soo has one of the most extensive, and best, fat bike networks in Ontario. It’s a destination known widely for its excellent year-round biking. Rent a fat bike locally, or BYOB (bring your own bike) and head out to Crimson Ridge or Hiawatha Highlands, which has added new trails this year. Here, you can cycle through an extensive network of trails covered in snow surrounded by stunning views of its natural beauty. Reward your efforts with a meal at Crimson Ridge’s onsite steakhouse, Embers on the Ridge. If urban escapes are your preference, point your wheels in the direction of Sault Ste. Marie’s Hub Trail. Spread over almost 23 kilometres, it winds through the city’s most popular destinations—taking bikers along the scenic downtown waterfront and through the historic district. Plan for a stop at some local breweries like Outspoken Brewing and fuel up at one of The Machine Shop’s many restaurants along the way.
Winter fly fishing
Sault Ste. Marie is known for its epic river fishing, especially in the spring and in the fall during the salmon run. But savvy fans of fly fishing know that fly fishing is also available in the winter before the ice gets too thick. Put on a pair of insulated waders and test your skill and your luck. A local guide can teach you how to master the art of this sport. You’ll learn how to cast your line perfectly and maximize your chances of catching some of Canada’s most iconic freshwater species, including rainbow trout, steelhead, Atlantic salmon and whitefish. The best place to fly fish? Locals know that rapids of the St. Marys River are a top pick, and have been for centuries—these rapids are a traditional gathering place for the region’s Indigenous peoples.
Surf’s up on the largest lake in the world
The wicked winds of winter are the delight of surfers who grab their boards and head to Lake Superior, known for its rugged coast and icy winter. Its inland sea—called the Fresh Coast by locals—boasts massive waves, especially in November and December. Go ahead and brave the icy waters and try Superior surfing at its best. You’ll soon understand why it has earned a reputation for having some of the best surfing between the east and west coasts. Visit Superior East Board Shop to grab some gear and get the inside scoop on where to catch some waves. This is an incredible experience you are likely never to forget.
The Hiawatha Highlands is a real-life winter paradise with truly gorgeous natural scenery. Think serene pine forests, winding creeks and even a spectacular frozen waterfall. It’s an exceptional setting for cross-country skiers with more than 50 kilometers of trails to explore, with 14 kilometres on offer for snowshoe enthusiasts. You’ll find machine-groomed trails and equipment rentals available here.
With its dazzling, otherworldly ice caves and ice formations, Lake Superior’s frozen shorelines offer visitors the chance to experience one of the coolest winter attractions in Ontario. These picturesque sculptures are created naturally when the waves on Lake Superior freeze over. The ice attractions, courtesy of Mother Nature, are never the same year to year. Understandably, they are a favourite destination for photographers, too. The best time to check out the ice caves and formations is between January and February. For help finding the very best spots, contact Red Pine Tours to find out more about its guided tours.
Stargaze in Lake Superior Provincial Park
The clarity of the skies and lack of light pollution around Lake Superior make it one of the very best places on earth to catch perfect views of the night sky. Recognized in July 2018 by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada as an official Dark Sky Preserve, it is the second Ontario provincial park to receive the honour. View the stars shine like you’ve never seen them before. Take a leisurely evening walk or snowshoe into the park and look to the heavens for remarkable views. You may even get lucky and catch the colourful Aurora Borealis.
Backcountry skiing in an Ontario paradise
Just a 25-minute drive from Sault Ste. Marie, Bellevue Valley Lodge is a charming bed and breakfast that puts you in the midst of a winter wonderland. Here, you can enjoy backcountry telemark or Nordic skiing right in its backyard. With 2,000 acres of forested land and 30 maintained runs, Bellevue Valley has earned the title of best backcountry skiing in Ontario. After you’ve spent the day on the slopes, warm up in the sauna on-site at the lodge or chase away a chill next to one of its fireplaces.
Discover the Soo and Algoma Country by snowmobile
It’s not surprising that Sault Ste. Marie has earned a reputation for being one of the province’s best snowmobile destinations. It has an abundance of snow and lake effect weather that make trails ideal for snowmobile adventures. The new Soo Highlands Loop provides riders with a one-day, 170-km riding experience in Northern Ontario’s wilderness. Grab your Ontario Snowmobile Trail Permit from the Sault Trailblazers Snowmobile Club and hit the loop that takes you north alongside the waters of Lake Superior and across to Searchmont and the ridgeline of the mighty Canadian Shield. All the while you’ll still be within hours of the urban amenities in the Sault, from fine dining at Big Lake Cabin to cozy spots like Ernie’s Coffee Shop.
plan your trip to sault ste. marie this winter
Sault Ste. Marie’s access to some of Northern Ontario’s best winter attractions coupled with its vibrant winter scene makes it the perfect base for your winter adventures. These are just a few highlights of the winter activities offered in and around Sault Ste. Marie. When you visit, you’ll find more to do, sure to tick all the boxes for everything you want from a destination – warm northern hospitality, wide-open natural spaces, and an adventurous spirit – that’s close to home.