Many of the trails in this region are a pleasure in any season, so winter hiking doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel. Instead, you’ll find many of our local favourites transformed by a fresh blanket of snow, bracing air, and a quiet and calming atmosphere that’s unique to the season.
We’ve selected the areas below for their unique beauty as well as the fact they’re consistently visited by other hikers, meaning if there’s snow you’re likely to find the paths already broken in by a helpful trailblazer. Many also feature lookouts, so you can see the winter landscape in all its glory.
We strongly recommend checking the weather conditions in the area before setting out for a hike. If you really want to maximize your time outdoors, we’d recommend investing in a set of walking poles and/or a pair of crampons for your boots. You’ll appreciate the extra grip if you come across a section of icier trail, and generally have a more relaxing time when you’re not worried about finding your footing.
The Beagle Club Trailhead is reserved for skiers from December 1 to March 31, so hikers should head to the Carstairs Universal Trail or Woodland Trails in the wintertime. At 3.2 km total, the Carstairs Universal Trail is a great choice on a colder day when you’re not looking to venture too far from the car. Its wide and clearly marked paths wind their way through a forest studded with rare and beautiful tree species. It’s also quite flat, so no slogging up snowy hills necessary here.
On the other hand, if you’ve got the time and inclination, the Woodland Trails are a real treat in wintertime. The Black Oak or Sweet Fern loops will keep you exploring for 7.5 or 9 km respectively, generally in sheltered areas so you won’t have to worry so much about blustery winter weather. If the Lookout Mountain Trail is open, however, you might be tempted by its peaceful panoramic view of Northumberland County.
Just steps from Viamede Resort lies one of the most satisfying trail systems in the region. The Stony Lake Trails are maintained by Kawartha Land Trust and offer three distinct loops. You can mix and match to your liking or walk the full 10 km. The blue, brown, and yellow trails will take you through hardwood forest and past dramatic limestone shelves, while the red trail affords a lovely view of Stony Lake. You’ll also see towering white pines and white oaks, which are uncommon in the area.
As a KLT property, there are also opportunities here to learn about local ecology and land stewardship. Visit KLT’s trail page for maps and more.
Emily Tract is a secluded stretch of forest at the south end of Pigeon Lake, halfway between Peterborough and Bobcaygeon. Its two loops both climb glacial ridges, so you’ll get an attractive view of the winter woods below as you walk along the crest. Those manageable climbs aside, the loops are short enough for kids but long enough to appeal to the adult outdoorsperson.
Keep your eyes peeled for interpretive signage that points out natural features of note, like the birding hotspot that is Chatten’s Creek. See here for access information.
Ken Reid is Lindsay’s most popular conservation area, and a perennial favourite on our outdoor listings. It offers the wintertime visitor plenty to see, such as the frozen vista across McLaren’s Creek Wetlands. It’s well worth downloading the Talking Forest app so you can take advantage of the interactive interpretive walk here. Bring along a set of headphones, and the app will trigger natural history lessons at key points along the trails—written from the tree’s perspective, of course, to improve the sense of immersion.
See here for more info on amenities at Ken Reid Conservation Area.
Even if you’re never been to Millbrook, you may have seen it before—its small-town charm makes it a popular filming location for series like Anne with an E and Murdoch Mysteries. That charm extends to its natural areas, which offer plenty of opportunities to the wintertime visitor. The Baxter Creek Trail follows the gentle course of the creek for an easy, relaxing walk; Medd’s Mountain is well worth the climb if the trail’s not too slippery. If it is, the Station Trail is a former railbed and a more straightforward but still rewarding walk.
Those are just a few of the trail options in Millbrook—see here for more.
This one is truly special—Peter’s Wood is the last remaining stand of old growth forest on the Oak Ridges Moraine. A gully passing through the centre of the area enhances the impression of height, so you’ll be craning your neck to admire the majestic trees. An interpretive guide available at the parking lot will enhance your appreciation for the natural processes that keep the forest thriving.
At less than a kilometre, this isn’t the trail to try if you’re looking to stay out all day, but on a chilly day, it might just be the perfect length. See here for more.