Things to do while Winter camping

Winter Camping Activities

By Christina Scheuermann

The snowflakes have begun to fall, and the temperature is dropping. The winter season is upon us and with it brings a whole new group of activities to do outside that we don’t normally get to do during other seasons.  Once the ground is covered in that white stuff, it is time for me to change over my summer gear to winter gear, put away my canoe,  and prepare to head out winter camping.

One question people continually ask me is, what do you do while you are winter camping?  In preparation of our new series on Winter Camping, we thought it would be fun to go over all the awesome activities there are to do while you are on a winter camping adventure.

Cross Country Skiing:  When you are winter camping in many of the Provincial Parks, you can also spend your time cross country skiing.  Some of the trails used for hiking in the warmer seasons, can be used for cross country skiing, but there are also specific designated trails that are created all over Ontario, just for this purpose.  Some experienced winter campers also cross country ski into their campsites and pull their gear behind them on a pulk, toboggan or sled.  Cross country skiing is a great way to explore the area you are camping in, and also helps you stay warm and active while you are out on your winter camping adventure.  Wherever you plan to camp, check out the campground website to get information regarding ski trail information.  Some parks, like Arrowhead, also rent all the equipment needed for this enjoyable activity, and many outfitters near the campgrounds that are open for winter camping, also have rental options.

Cross country Skiing at Arrowhead
Cross country Skiing at Arrowhead


Skating:  For many people, skating, as well as, pond hockey, is one of their favorite activities to do while winter camping.  The campground at Mew Lake in Algonquin Park offers a large, well made, skating rink next to the comfort station and for a lot of campers, this is an activity that is not to be missed.  Mew Lake Campground leaves out shovels and extra hockey sticks near the rink and people of all ages lace up their skates and spend hours gliding around on the ice and enjoying one of Canada’s favorite pastimes.  Arrowhead is also very popular for their skating trail, which is built through a summer campground loop. You can spend your time skating through the forest by day, or illuminated by torchlight in the evenings.  They also rent skates there.   Before heading out, check out the updates from the parks on the condition of the ice, and any other required information, to avoid disappointment.  When backcountry winter camping, always ensure the ice is thick enough to skate on and all safety precautions are taken.  We want you to have fun, but the main goal when skating in the backcountry on frozen lakes and ponds is safety.

Arrowhead Skating Trail
Arrowhead Skating Trail
Skating at Mew Lake, Algonquin
Skating at Mew Lake, Algonquin

Snowshoeing:  Many of your favorite hiking trails are great to use for snowshoeing during the winter season.  There is nothing better than spending the day exploring a winter wonderland, breathing in the crisp cool air and crunching through the fresh snow on snowshoes.  If you are winter camping in a campground, some offer snowshoe rentals through the park office.  You can also rent snowshoes through various outfitters near some of the parks that offer winter camping.  If you enjoy snowshoeing, you can also purchase a pair to have whenever you want to use them.  There is nothing better than spending your winter camping day checking out the neighboring area on showshoes.

Snowshoeing at Silent Lake PP
Snowshoeing with my mom at Silent Lake

Snowmobiling & ATV’s:  There are some people who prefer to enjoy winter activities using snowmobiles and ATV’s or four wheelers.  Depending on what part of Ontario you are in,  these types of activities can not only be a fun winter camping add on, but also the mode of transportation to get you and your gear to your campsite. I have personally only winter camped once via this method, but it is something I would like to try again in the near future.

There are many other winter activities that will keep you occupied and having a blast, while you are enjoying your winter camping trip.  A few more to mention are warming yourself and roasting marshmallows next to a roaring fire, making snow angels, creating a snow fort, igloo, or quinzee, tobogganing or sledding, fat biking, making a snow maze, building a snowman and my personal favorite,  identifying animal tracks.  Regardless of which activities you prefer, be assured you will always have more than enough to do, while winter camping.

Please consult your local authority’s COVID-19 regulations before planning outdoor recreational activities for the current season.

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