Written by Denise Davy
Picture yourself whisking along a snow-covered trail on cross-country skis as the sun glistens through the trees. As you watch your breath form wispy clouds in the chilly air, your mind wanders to thoughts of what you should do tomorrow. Should you choose downhill skiing or try tobogganing with the kids?
Snow tubing may be a fun possibility or you could throw on some skates and head to the lake. With the wide variety of winter sport options close by, you must be in Northern Ontario, right? Actually, Halton’s habitat is the perfect geography for winter sports, with its hills to the north, lake to the south and an abundance of parks for snowshoeing and hiking in between.
Even the suburbs of Burlington have spots to enjoy that favourite Canadian winter pastime: tobogganing. Just ask Sebastian Dwornik, a 38-year-old Burlington resident, whose love of tobogganing prompted him to launch www.tobogganhills.com. The site lists smaller hills for younger kids and bigger hills where the older kids can get more air. They include lesser-known spots like Bolus Garden Park off Plains Road and familiar spots like those at LaSalle Park in Aldershot. The site also allows others to post comments and update current conditions.
But if you’d rather take to the hills with skis or a snowboard, you don’t have far to drive. Glen Eden Ski and Snowboard Centre at Kelso Conservation Area in Milton is about a half hour away from Burlington or Oakville and has six lifts, 14 runs, two terrain parks and a snow tube park.
Or you can pass on the slopes and head straight to the trails of Kelso, one of seven Halton Conservation parks, which has 22 kilometres of trails winding through fields and forests. There are many stops along the way offering a beautiful view of the escarpment. Crawford Lake, home to a 15th century reconstructed Iroquoian Village, has several trails, as do Mount Nemo and Hilton Falls, where you can hike, cross country ski or snowshoe.
If you’re looking for some nighttime winter fun a bit out of the ordinary, take a Howl’n Hike at Bronte Provincial Park; explore the park after dark, learn to howl like a coyote, and then gather around a bonfire. For a more traditional winter sport, there’s Bronte’s large skating rink, a popular destination throughout the winter. Bronte Park’s annual New Year’s Eve party is a draw for hundreds of people from Halton and surrounding areas, who come for the skating as well as the hot chocolate and kids’ countdown at 8:30pm.
While Bronte’s rink is spacious, when it comes to skating spots with a view, it’s hard to beat the Rotary Centennial Pond beside Spencer Smith Park. The 10,000 square foot reflecting pond is transformed every December into an ice rink. When it’s just a little too cold outside there are lots of indoor skating rinks too. All list their schedules online.
There’s no reason to leave Halton if you’re looking for winter fun, but if you want to make the drive for an out-of-town ski or snowboard, the Chicopee Ski Resort in Kitchener is about an hour’s drive away and has plenty of slopes for schussing.
Chicopee Ski Resort
Rotary Centennial Pond
Burlington (and other) Toboggan Spots
Ski Hills in Southern Ontario and South of the Border