Winter has fully arrived in Muskoka and the conditions are perfect for exploring the region to check out the amazing spaces that tend to be a little less crowded this time of year, but no less beautiful than ever. In fact, even if you’ve been to every nook and cranny of the region in the summer, the winter offers a completely different experience as you take in the fluffy coat of snow and shimmer of ice that now adorns your favourite lakes and forests.
Since Ontario has an awesome “staycation” tax credit that lets Ontario residents claim up to 20% of their accommodation expense for 2022 getaways in Ontario, we thought we’d let you in on three of the many great winter accommodation options available locally that are close to some amazing wide open nature spaces waiting for you this winter in Muskoka!
Feel The Magic
Ask anyone who has visited the Limberlost Forest & Wildlife Reserve: There’s just something extra magical about this place. It’s got twenty private lakes, 70km of trail, and more than 10,000 unspoiled acres of mixed forest that the public can explore for free daily once they’ve submitted a quick online waiver. The space is funded by the rental revenue from the beautiful lodges, cottages, cabins and campsites scattered throughout the forests, many of which are situated with gorgeous lake views and easy trail access.
The Clear & Turtle Lakes loop trail circles two lakes, with lots of fun boardwalk paths along the way. The Solitaire Lake trail is longer but arguably the most popular, skirting the entire lake and eventually taking hikers to Echo Rock Lookout high above Lake Solitaire. The Buck Lake trail is also a highlight, taking hikers through a bird sanctuary in the frozen wetland and past a large ice-fall in the old growth forest.
Look To The Skies
When on the lookout for open spaces in Muskoka, it only makes sense to include the Torrance Barrens Conservation Area & Dark Sky Preserve. This is one of the best places to hang out under the wide open sky, whether it’s daylight or dark skies. Though it may be covered in snow right now, the abundance of precambrian shield granite here means there isn’t a lot of depth for the vegetation to grow deep roots. As a result, it can feel a little like walking around on the moon sometimes! This creates a bit of a meta experience because if you stick around until dark – which is a lot earlier this time of year – you’ll often get a really good view of the moon because Torrance Barrens was christened the world’s first Dark Sky Reserve in 1999.
The Royal Astronomical Society endorsed this status because there is limited light pollution in the area, so you need to drive a little to find accommodation. We recommend checking out the Bayview Wildwood Resort. It’s your go-to spot for all-inclusive fun, including Dining at the Echo Lodge, fun indoor and lakeside activity programming and loads of seasonal amenities like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and tobogganing to make your stay extra special. The chef will even make a special gourmet boxed lunch that you can take with you when you explore Torrance Barrens if you let them know that’s your plan. The Muskoka chairs at the lakeside bonfire are waiting for you!
Connect With Nature
With 28,000 km of Trail connecting every province and territory, the most wide open trail experience in the country is found on the Trans Canada Trail. The trail enters Muskoka in Gravenhurst and exits through Huntsville, hitting fantastic local trails like Cooper’s Falls, Jevins & Silver Lake, Chamberlain, Wilson’s Falls and Hunter’s Bay trails along the way, and an especially fun section this time of year is the Bracebridge section known as Chickadee Trail in Bracebridge. Found at the Henry Road access point, this section of the TCT is monitored by volunteers who stock the little seed platforms on trailside trees so that visitors can interact with the social chickadees along the route. Grab a little seed or bring some from home to see if you can get the birds to eat from your palm!
When you’re ready to relax, the Inn At The Falls is ready to make your stay extra special. The main building at the inn was constructed in the 1870’s as a residence for the local judge, but is now a boutique getaway in the heart of Bracebridge. The property sits above Bracebridge Falls on the Muskoka River, and the Pub At The Falls dining room offers delicious cuisine while you take in the views.
Guest Blogger: Jacki @ Away We Go Trips
Away We Go Trips offers self-guided routes around Muskoka that share local stories & intel while leading you to a mix of must-see & off-the-beaten-path stops throughout this incredible region. Use the code AWGTWINTER22 for 10% off all routes and keep up with their adventures by following on Instagram and Facebook.