Things to do in Algonquin Park in Winter

Algonquin Provincial Park
Algonquin Park Highway sign on West side of Park in winter.
Photographer: Helen McConnell

Algonquin Provincial Park is one of Ontario’s premiere and most popular destinations, no matter the weather. And yes, that includes winter! Algonquin has so much to offer its visitors during the winter months, no matter your wilderness experience (or lack thereof).

Algonquin Park is absolutely massive, covering over approximately 7653 square kilometres of rugged forest and rushing rivers. The parks most commonly used West Gate is located just west of Huntsville, a 2.5 drive north from Toronto. If you are looking for a challenging Canadian wilderness experience that you won’t soon forget then read on!

1. Winter Camping at Mew Lake Campground

Mew Lake is the only campground located within the provincial park that operates on a year-round basis. Set up your tent, and nestle up to a warm fire, on a ‘developed’ camp site complete with electricity and water. The campground features comfort stations, general store and laundry facilities. Reservations are required and can be made by visiting the website.

  • Cost: $47.46 per night for campsites equipped with electricity.
  • Location: Mew Lake Campground is located at km 30.8 of Highway 60.
  • Website

2. Visit the Outdoor Exhibit at Algonquin Logging Museum

While the park’s main reception building is closed in the winter, the Algonquin Logging Museum Outdoor Exhibit is open for visitors to explore the past Walk the 1.3-kilometre trail through the exhibit and learn about the fascinating history of logging in the area. After walking the trail enjoy a hot meal at the full restaurant located in Algonquin’s visitor centre, open on weekends only.

  • Cost: Day Use park permit: $18.00 per vehicle.
  • Location: Highway 60 at Km 54, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario Canada
  • Website

3. Go on a Winter hike on Algonquin’s Mizzy Lake Trail or Spruce Bog Boardwalk

Get outside and breath in the fresh wilderness air of Algonquin! Algonquin park boasts eight trails that are maintained during the winter months, which vary in levels of difficulty. For the most experienced hiker, try the Mizzy lake Trail which is 10.8 kms long and takes about 6 hours to complete. Or for a more relaxing trail try the Spruce Bog Boardwalk which is 1.5 kms long and features northern spruce bogs. The park officials recommend that you set out on your self-guided tour with an understanding of your limitations, and never start after 3:00pm. Please visit the website for up to date information on the status of the trails.

  • Cost: Day Use park permit: $18.00 per vehicle.
  • Location: Mizzy Lake Trail is located at km 15.4 of Highway 60.
  • Latitude/Longitude: 45.542515°, -78.695621°
  • Website

4. Cross-Country Ski along the Groomed Winter Trails

Strap on those skies and grab your poles for an unforgettable skiing experience through the snow-covered forests of Algonquin. The park has two ski trails currently maintained, the better of which is the Fen Lake Ski Trail, an 18-kilometre trek through hardwood forests. After you’ve worked up a sweat, warm up in a rustic cabin located just off of the skiing trails.

These cabins are equipped with efficient wood stoves, wood for burning and first aid supplies. Ski rentals are available at Algonquin Outfitters in Huntsville. Feel free to print out a copy of the Fen Lake Ski Trail Map before you embark on your adventure. Algonquin Outfitters’ Oxtongue Lake store provides the most selection of cross country ski rentals.

  • Cost: Day Use park permit: $18.00 per vehicle.
  • Location: The Fen Lake Ski Trail is located at the West Gate. The ski trail entrance is at the south side of the parking lot.
  • Website

5. Snowshoe in the Backcountry

Don’t want to be constrained by the few trails that are maintained in the winter? Well slip your feet into a pair of snowshoes and go virtually anywhere in the park (except on groomed ski trails). This is a great way to experience the raw nature of Canadian Wilderness. Before you ditch the trail ensure that you have minimal equipment such as extra clothing, blankets, snacks and water, a first aid kit, flashlight and a park map. If you prefer to stay on a marked trail, pick up your guide to the trails at the visitor centre or the East or West gates.

Snowshoe rentals are available at Algonquin Outfitters in Huntsville. Before you set off on your adventure, please visit the park’s website for up to date information on weather conditions and for wildlife warnings, etc.

  • Cost: Day Use park permit: $18.00 per vehicle.; $24.00 for adult snowshoe rental.
  • Location: Anywhere in the park. Enter via the East or West Gate.

6. Eat a Picnic Lunch Outdoors at Tea Lake Dam Picnic Ground

Pack up a gourmet lunch for two and set out for one of the park’s six picnic areas open for use in the winter months. A popular picnic site in the winter is Tea Lake Dam Picnic Ground because of its easy access off of Highway 60 and its close vicinity to the park’s many trails, including Hardwood Lookout.

  • Cost: Day Use Permit to the Park, $18.00 per vehicle.
  • Latitude/Longitude: 45.493946,-78.750812
  • Website

7. Walk up to Hardwood Lookout

Walk the trail up to Hardwood Lookout and enjoy the amazing view of Smoke Lake and the surrounding forested hills of the area. The trail is a one kilometre loop with numerous plaques identifying plants and animals common to the hardwood forests of Algonquin Park.

Cost: Day Use Permit to the Park, $18.00 per vehicle.
Location: Hardwood Lookout Trail is located at km 13.8 of Highway 60.
Latitude/Longitude: 45.529795°, -78.705268°

8. Glide and Slide over the Outdoor Ice Rink at Mew Lake Campground

Bring the whole family for a fun afternoon or evening of slipping and sliding all over Mew Lake Campground’s renowned outdoor skating rink. The comfort stations in the campground are open for visitors’ use.

  • Cost: Day Use Permit to the Park, $18.00 per vehicle.
  • Location: Mew Lake Campground is located at km 30.8 of Highway 60
  • Website

9. Try Out Birdwatching on the Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail

Step foot on the wood boards of the Spruce Bog Boardwalk expecting to spot wildlife and beautiful birds native to Algonquin Park. The path has several birdfeeders set out to attract the birds, and bring them closer to the visitor. Get your camera out and be ready to snap some amazing still life shots!

  • Cost: Day Use Permit: $18.00 per vehicle.
  • Location: Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail is located at km 42.5 of Highway 60.
  • Latitude/Longitude: 45.587072°, -78.373786°
  • Website

10. Stay the night in a Yurt at Mew Lake Campground

Would you like to experience the wild of Algonquin but with the comfort of a roof over your head? Why not try sleeping in a yurt? Mew Lake Campground features seven yurts, which are eight-sided, tent like structures mounted on a wooden deck floor.

They can sleep up to six people and are equipped with 2 sets of bunk beds, electric heat, lighting, table and chairs, shelving unit and a propane barbeque for outdoor use. Please visit the website for full details of what you should and should not bring, and for park rules. Please call the toll-free number to secure your reservation- 1-888-668-7275

Cost: $97.18 per night
Location: Mew Lake Campground (see above for location)

11. Go on a Dog Sledding Adventure with Northridge Ranch

Want to try something new? Why not visit Northridge Ranch and coordinate a dog-sledding adventure through the trails of Algonquin? Algonquin Park offers two trails that are specifically for dog-sledding, one along Highway 60 and the other in the northwest section of the park, close to the village of South River on Highway 11. The more popular of the two is Sunday Lake Dog Sledding Trail, located off of Highway 60.

  • Cost: One Hour Ride: $145/person for adults and $95.00 per person for children. Children under 3 are free.
  • Location: Northridge Ranch: 1823 Williamsport Rd, Huntsville
  • Dog Sledding Trails: off of Highway 60.
  • Websites

12. Fat Bike Along the Old Railway Bike Trail

Are you looking for some high-speed, adrenaline-rush adventure? Well, jump on a fat bike and hit Algonquin’s Old Railway Bike Trail! If you do not own your own fat bike you can rent one from Algonquin Outfitters in Huntsville, which offers bike rack rentals and youth sized fat bikes so that the whole family can enjoy this adrenaline rush adventure.

  • Cost: Fat bike rentals range from $40-50 per bike plus the cost of a bike rack at $19.98 for the day. Fat Bikes are available at the Huntsville Store.
  • Location: Trail can be accessed from Mew Lake Campground.
  • Website

13. Learn about Winter Wildlife on a Professionally Guided Tour of Algonquin Park

Let a professional take you on a guided tour of the trails and give you interesting insights into the ecology and biology of the park.

Join one of three interpretive tours offered during the winter:

1)Winter Tree Identification Tour- where the visitor learns how to identify trees in the winter even after their tell-tale leaves have fallen,

2) Winter Wildlife Tour- learn about the various species that manage to survive the park’s dreadful winters. Learn how to detect and identify specific animal’s footprints and other remnants in the snow.

3) Wolf Howl Tour- This is an especially popular tour, recommended for after nightfall. Learn about the of wolves in Algonquin and about the history of the wolf howl. The guide takes patrons to the best places for hearing and mimicking wolf howls at night. See if you can get wolves to howl back at you! This is recommended as a night tour.

  • Cost: Wolf Tour, $12.00 per person, Other outdoor half-day programs are 10$ per person. All reservations require a $100 deposit at time of booking.
  • Location: Meeting point is at the Outdoor Theatre, located South of km 35.4 of Highway 60, then turn left for the parking lot. Follow the signs to the Outdoor Theatre.
  • Website

14. Hike the Bat Lake Trail in Algonquin Park

Tie up those winter boots and layer up! Head to one of Algonquin Park’s many winterized hiking trails: Bat Lake Trail. This 5.8 loop trail is great for hikers of all backgrounds, from novice to experience and is loved for its fine views of the acidic Bat Lake, wildlife viewing opportunities and its educational plaques giving the hiker a introduction into the types of plants and animals that live in the park.

  • Cost: Day Use Permit, $18.00 per vehicle.
  • Location: Bat Lake Trail is located at km 30.0 of Highway 60.
  • Latitude/Longitude: 45.576927°, -78.522514°
  • Website:

15. Winter in the Wild

Every Family Day weekend, The Friends of Algonquin Park and Ontario Parks hold Winter in the Wild festival. Indoor and outdoor events are held at various locations and include guided bird walks, guided snowshoe excursions, skating, winter camping demos, marshmallow roasting and more!

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