Outdoor Winter Paradise

Main image by Katie Erb. All other photos by Dave Sproule.

Windy Lake Provincial Park is the perfect destination for adventure snowmobilers



Windy Lake Provincial Park is a four-season playground and the perfect destination for adventure snowmobilers. I had the opportunity to stay in the cabins at Windy Lake at the beginning of February with my fiancé Ted, and it far exceeded our expectations. This provincial park has always been a popular summer camping, swimming, and picnicking destination, but winter in the park has been the best-kept secret, until now!

Windy Lake Provincial Park is in the heart of the Onaping Falls High Riders Snowmobile Club territory in OFSC District 12,  right on OFSC trail C111D that covers the Levack, Onaping Falls, Dowling, and Cartier areas in the Sudbury Basin. The 225-km OFSC “Cartier Moose Loop” Tour  passes right beside the Windy Lake cabins, making it the perfect stopover or starting location for snowmobilers riding through the Canadian Shield on the old logging road and rocky trails.

 

We rode our Carlson Sports Artic Cat snowmobiles north on the winding trails from Windy Lake toward to the Onaping bridge, and saw some very cool rock formations along the way. There are over 1,300 km of snowmobile trails in the Sudbury area alone that can all be discovered from the doorstep of Windy Lake, and it is located only 40 minutes north of Sudbury by car.

New this winter at Windy Lake, there are now two lakeside cabins that welcome snowmobilers and outdoor enthusiasts. They offer amazing views—sunrises and sunsets of the lake. We had the chance to stay in one of the newly built cabins that sleeps six people, and it was beautiful—with a tongue-and-groove wood interior, custom built log furniture, a mini-kitchenette, and a screened-in room. They are heated by a propane fireplace, guaranteeing your cabin will always be warm after a day of riding.

Since the Windy Lake cabins are location within the provincial park, it is much like winter camping as you need to bring your own bedding, dishes, and food. While the cabins themselves do not have running water, right beside them are heated outhouses, making for more of a rustic stay and adding to the outdoor experience. Across the road is the Windy Lake Motel and Restaurant, a great place for home-cooked meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We had a few meals there and the food and service was terrific—highly recommended. The Windy Lake Motel will also provide hot showers to snowmobilers for a small fee as there are no shower amenities at the park. 

Having never stayed in a yurt, on my next trip to Windy Lake I’ll definitely want to experience an overnight stay in one of their four yurts that are open in the winter as well. With two cabins and four yurts that each sleep six people, this makes Windy Lake the ideal location for large groups to stay and ride together. (Sledders take note: the yurts aren’t directly accessible by snowmobile. The park’s campground roads become part of the groomed cross-country ski trails in the winter, so they are only accessible by ski or snowshoe. The park provides big toboggans that yurt campers can load up with their gear for their stay.) They offer romantic getaways for couples as well! And again, since there is no running water in the winter, they do offer 24-hour access to the ski chalet for a flush toilet and sink.

Beyond being a snowmobile destination, Windy Lake Provincial Park is known for being a winter wonderland for cross-country skiers, snowshoers and ice fishers—it is a true outdoor winter paradise. The Onaping Falls Nordic Ski Club has partnered with Windy Lake; the Ski Club is based in the park's Chalet and groom 1 km of park roads that are part of the total 15 km of ski trails, professionally groomed and considered to be world-class for classic and skate-style skiing. The Chalet, which has ski and snowshoe rentals and a snackbar on weekends, is open through the week, but staffed by the Club on weekends. 

We were able to try the snowshoeing at Windy Lake, and besides the snowmobiling, this was an absolute highlight. They offer 8 km of snowshoe trails throughout the park, and we were lucky enough to have a fresh snowfall the night before adding to deeper trails for the best conditions. The trails take you to beautiful scenic ridge lookouts of Windy Lake through the hilly terrain of the meteorite crater. The snowshoeing it Windy Lake is considered some of the best in Ontario!

After a morning spent snowmobiling, we went ice fishing in the afternoon. Windy Lake has been recognized for its ice fishing within the Greater Sudbury Area and in Ontario—a very popular destination for catching lake trout, walleye, pike, and whitefish. The park offers winter campers the chance to go ice fishing without any hassle, which was perfect for us! They have a rental package that includes the setup of a portable fishing hut with seats, rods, bait and tackle, ice auger, and a propane heater—all you need to do is catch the fish! When we were ice fishing the wind chill on the lake had to have been -35, but we kept very warm in the hut with the heater, making for a very fun and enjoyable experience.

There are so many cool things to do at Windy Lake Provincial Park. It is an outdoor paradise for winter lovers and a must-visit hotspot for snowmobilers in the Greater Sudbury Area and beyond. Whether you start your trip from Windy Lake, or you spend a week in the park discovering new trails every day, you’ll never run of things to do or try. Book your stay today and experience the winter wonderland of Windy Lake for yourself.

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