Since 2014, the Amazing Places program has been encouraging people to spend more time outside in the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve (GBBR). Whether you prefer hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, or fat biking, there are several must-see destinations within the GBBR to keep you entertained during the colder, darker months!
North of Parry Sound by about 45 minutes is a suspension bridge that offers unparalleled views of the French River Gorge. The popular snowmobile bridge connects two steep rocky cliffs, is 156 metres in length and towers 27 metres above Canada’s first Heritage River! Snowshoe or walk across it to see if you can spot any wildlife from this unique vantage point. The French River Visitor Centre is closed for the season, however you’ll see the unique architecture from where you park, taking the trail down to the bridge.
The Lynx Loop trail at Georgian Nordic Ski & Canoe Club is a must-visit if you are a ski enthusiast, or if you are looking to break into the sport. The trail is groomed for both classic and skate style skiers and there is a 4km or 8km loop, as well as an abundance of other trails on site. There are also plenty of backcountry and snowshoe opportunities, and you have the option of purchasing a day or a membership pass. Joining this club is a great way to socialize and meet adventurous people who love the outdoors.
For a challenge that pays off with a breathtaking view, climb the 30m high observation tower at Tower Hill Lookout. It beckons people to climb its 130 steps year-round, for fantastic views unique to each season. So bundle up, bring a thermos full of hot chocolate, and watch the snow fall from the highest point in town! There is no cost to climb the tower, and visitors are welcome anytime. If visiting between 11:00am and 4:00pm Wednesday-Sunday, warm up in the Museum on Tower Hill as you learn about the history and culture of this area.
While in Parry Sound, take the easy 5km Waterfront Trail on a journey through sand beaches, rocky outcrops, and quaint neighbourhoods. A former rail spur line for the CN and CP railroads, it is an excellent location to try fat biking, if you haven’t yet! Any mode of transportation, however, will make for an enjoyable winter excursion. During the winter this path is well-packed as it is part of the Parry Sound Snowmobile Club trail network, providing trail users with a safe off-ice route. Start at the trailhead by the Salt Docks on Marion Avenue, so you can work your way towards downtown for hot chocolate, or continue over the Seguin River pedestrian bridge to the Trestle Brewing Company overlooking the river.
The Rose Point Trail is a 6km favourite amongst local hikers and dog walkers. It is also an excellent location for winter sports, and a collection of animal tracks can often be seen in the freshly fallen snow. It is accessible from Parry Sound at Glenn Burney Lodge parking off Emily Street, or south of town from multiple access points.
The Park to Park Trail spans 230km from Killbear Provincial Park to Algonquin Provincial Park. In the winter, it is maintained by the local snowmobile districts. As a multi-use trail, it provides excellent hiking conditions. It is also a great destination for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and fat biking!
Visit the cranberry bog at Muskoka Lakes Farm & Winery for the magic of skating a 1.2 km loop surrounded by 12 acres of cranberries. Every Saturday will be lit up with 400 tiki torches; a fairy tale-like opportunity to skate under the stars! There are also more than 10 km of scenic trails to snowshoe on the property and bog hockey rinks can be reserved for games. A new experience this year is the addition of tractor sleigh rides as part of the Bog to Bottle Discovery Tour, which will continue to run three times daily. And of course, there is no better way to conclude your visit than by enjoying their selection of “local food with cranberry flair”, paired with hot mulled wine or apple cider!
Named after the former Point aux Pins school that was built there, the School House Trail in Port Severn is a 4 km path (one way), marked with interpretive signage revealing information about the rocky landscape, wetlands, and flora and fauna of the area. Crossing the cedar bridge spanning an impressive wetland is a highlight while exploring here.
The only way to truly appreciate winter is to get outdoors and experience it! Whether you prefer snowshoeing, fat biking, skiing, hiking or a combination of them all, the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve is abundant with bucket list activities in one beautiful destination. See how many of these places you can cross off your winter wish list!