Natural Scenery

COLUMN: Scenic Caves Nature Adventures a winter playground

From snowshoeing and hiking to cross-country skiing, this place has something for everyone, says columnist

Winter is a season of unique delights.

Scenic Caves Nature Adventures inspires people to get out and play in the fresh air, to experience all the adventure and beauty winter affords.

Once the snow arrives — and it arrives early and often here — the park becomes a winter playground for cross-country skiers and snowshoers.

“The conditions here are ideal for winter sports because of higher elevation — we’re located on the highest spot of the Niagara Escarpment — and the colder lake-effect conditions ensure that we receive plenty of snowfall,” explains Linda Service, vice-president of marketing for Scenic Caves Nature Adventures. “In addition, the trails predominantly go through 100-year-old forests and therefore are well protected, meaning the snow lasts longer.”

Scenic Caves Nature Adventures is located within one of Canada’s 18 UNESCO biosphere reserves. For generations, it has been beloved for its scenic views overlooking Lake Huron, the iconic stone formations that are the basis of its name, and for its enthralling First Nations lore. In recent years, however, it has gained new acclaim as a destination for those who love outdoor winter sports.

Strap on a pair of skis and glide along a total of 27 kilometres of cross-country ski trails passing through mature forests where the silence is peace-inducing, and the beauty of the snow-draped hills, blissful. There are trails of varying difficulty, offering a challenge for skiers of all abilities. Lessons and rentals are available for those new to the sport.

Or put on snowshoes and trek along 12 kilometres of trails weaving through snow mounded in soft, billowy folds. Trails are well marked and varying in length and difficulty, offering something for everyone and all abilities. One of the appeals of snowshoeing is the thrill of passing over a suspension bridge — at 420 feet long, by far southern Ontario’s longest suspension bridge. Brave the slight sway to enjoy the spectacle of a vista encompassing 10,000 square kilometres of steel-grey Georgian Bay and surrounding area.

Whatever your chosen sport, keep your eyes peeled as you navigate the trails. A wide range of wildlife call Scenic Caves Nature Adventures home. When sunlight glistens off the snow, shy deer, chattering squirrels, bounding rabbits, and flittering birds like to come out to frolic.

For a truly unique experience, round up a gang of 15 or more for a guided nighttime snowshoe hike (Feb. 3 and 10, March 2, 9 and 16; $59 per person). The moonlit forest transforms after dark, taking on a whole new character. With our vision impeded by darkness, our sense of hearing is heightened, making every rustling branch or soft crunch of the snow that much more intense. Listen closely; that faint noise may well be an owl in the branches above or the padding of a fox on the hunt.

The winter air may be chilly, but at Scenic Caves Nature Adventures, the varied experiences are enough to warm you up.

Scenic Caves Nature Adventures is located at 260 Scenic Caves Rd. in the Town of The Blue Mountains. More information is available at sceniccaves.com.

Andrew Hind is a travel columnist and published author.


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