Winter Hiking in Eastern Ontario
December 28, 2021
By Kayla Kurin

Just because the days are getting shorter and the weather is getting colder, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy active outdoor adventures. While ski bums are flocking to the hills, there are many snowy Ontario adventures to be had for those who prefer to go slow.

Exploring these trails by foot, paddle or ski makes for a great winter adventure and will help travelers avoid the crowds at the downhill skiing hills. With darker days it’s especially important to get outside and active to make sure you’re getting enough fresh air and sunshine!

Below are our favorite winter hikes in Eastern Ontario:

Frontenac Provincial Park

Open year-round, Frontenac Provincial Park is located just north of Kingston and west of Ottawa in the Canadian Sheild. “The Corridor” is open during the snowy season for cross-country skiing. All of the trails in the park are available for snowshoeing or hiking. The Little Salmon Lake Loop (10 km) and the Big Salmon Lake Loop (17 km) are both great trails to try by snowshoe!

Sheffield Conservation Area

In a dark sky viewing area, this 5 km trail is great for winter hiking or skiing. This trail is short but mighty with varied terrain, a few steep hills and gorgeous granite rocks peeking out from beneath the snow. Those traveling with younger hikers can even bring a sled to use on a few of the slopes in the park. Stay after sunset and watch the stars burn bright.

Rideau Trail

This 327 km trail runs from Kingston to Ottawa and is open year-round. In winter, visitors can enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, skating and even fat-tire biking. The length of the trail means there will be plenty of options for both family hikers and those looking to go on a more lengthy journey. For those adventuring on the trail near Ottawa, combining your trip with a skate on the famous Rideau Canal, the world’s largest skating rink, is a must.

Menzel Centennial Provincial Nature Reserve

This unique path is wide and flat, making it ideal for hikers of all levels. It does have boardwalk sections, so unless the snow is really thick it’s better suited for hikers than skiers or snowshoers. The Menzel Reserve is home to a fen, a rare sighting in Southern Ontario. The trail leads to Mud Lake, a smooth icy surface in winter that makes a great spot for a picnic!

Bon Echo Provincial Park

While most park facilities are closed for winter, many of the trails in Bon Echo Park are open for winter hiking and snowshoeing. If you walk straight toward Mazinaw Lake from the parking lot, you can follow a trail that will bring you face to face with Mazinaw Rock, a stunning cliff unique to this area of the province. The rock is even more spectacular than it looks, seeming to tower right up into the sky, the rock extends by the same height under the water.

Other walks in the park, like Abes and Essens Lake Trail, make for a challenging snowshoe. Shorter trails like Bon Echo Creek are suitable for the whole family.

Flinton County Forest

Popular with snowmobiles, the County Forest also makes a great place for winter hiking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. With side loops of varying lengths, you can make this a short and easy trip for beginner hikers of about one or two kilometers, or a longer slightly hillier loop of four to six kilometers. Hikers can also make their way to Flinton Falls and enjoy watching the icy cold waterfall into the meandering river.

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