Winter has descended on southern Ontario with a vengeance so it’s time to start thinking about winter sports. Many resorts and conservation areas that are perhaps an hour’s drive from Toronto offer cross-country or Nordic skiing. Picture a winter day cross-country skiing through sunlit forests and fields. Put a camera in your pocket to capture pristine snowfalls or maybe just a wineskin to warm up. Cross-country skiing is one of the most vigorous exercises working more muscles than downhill skiing. Most cross-country ski resorts have a variety of trail lengths to suit both beginner and advanced skiers and many have cross-country skis, boots and poles for rent. Daily trail passes typically cost between $15-$20.
If you want to get in some cross-country skiing without driving very far, check out Kortright Centre at 9550 Pine Valley Drive, Vaughan, 905-832-2289. Kortright has 16 kilometres of groomed cross-country ski trails amidst ecosystems that include rivers, forests, meadows, valleys and marshes. The cross-country trails are good for beginners because there are not too many hills. Warm up at the cafe after skiing. Adult trail passes are $6.50, Seniors and Students $5.50 and Children up to 15 are free. Parking is $4 per vehicle. Open Mon-Fri 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sat-Sun 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Albion Hills at 16500 Hwy 50 (eight kilometres north of Bolton), Palgrave, 1-800-838-9921 offers 26 kilometres of groomed cross-country ski trails that run through the forest and provide a spectacular view of Caledon Hills. You can relax in the heated chalet with cafe. Cross-country ski trail passes are Adults $14.60 plus HST, Seniors $11.95 plus HST, Children $8.19 plus HST and Family pass (1 or 2 adults and kids under 14) $35.40 plus HST. Skis, boots and pole rentals are Adults $19.75, Child $13. Open in January from Mon to Fri from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sat-Sun 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. February hours are Mon-Fri from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sat-Sun from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Seneca College Nordic Ski Centre at 13990 Dufferin Street (north of King Road), King City, 905-833-3333 X5169, has 14 kilometres of groomed cross-country trails, as well as washroom facilities. Adults trail passes are $10, Children $5. The facility does not provide cross-country ski rentals, but does offer snowshoe rentals. Open weekends only.
Horseshoe Resort at 1101 Horseshoe Valley Road, Barrie, 1-800-461-5627, has 35 kilometres of Nordic ski trails with long, sweeping runs that wind through the protected Copeland Forest. There are both short trails for beginners and longer-distance cross-country trails with challenging hills for advanced cross-country skiers. Enjoy a post-ski drink by the fireplace in the bar. Open Mon-Sun 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Take Highway 400 one hour north of Toronto, then take Exit 117 East and turn right onto Horseshoe Valley Road. Adults (17-59) $21, Seniors (60+) $17, Junior (6-16) $17, 5 and under Free. Snowshoe trail pass is $11 for 6 and up and free for 5 and under.
Dagmar Resort at 1220 Lakeridge Road (Durham 23), Ashburn, 905-649-2002, located between Ajax and Whitby, has 25 kilometres of cross-country ski trails. Adult and Intermediate (13-59) trail passes are $18.58, Senior (60+) and Junior (6-12) $16.81, 5 and under $7.08. Ski, boots and pole rental $26.55. Private cross-country skiing lessons (one hour) $43.36. Open Mon-Fri 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sat-Sun 9 a.m. to 4:30.
Formerly called Hardwood Hills, Hardwood Ski and Bike at 402 Old Barrie Road, Oro, 1-800-387-3775, has groomed cross-country ski trails with six different loops from five kilometres up to 22 kilometres. You can also snowshoe at this facility. Adults $22.95, Seniors (60+) $20.50, Students 13-19 (with valid student I.D.) $20.50, Children 5-12 $14.75, 4 and under Free. Snowshoe only is $12.25. Open Mon-Fri 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sat-Sun 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.