Making Tracks: Snowshoeing at Abbey Gardens
Snowshoeing is about as Canadian as hockey and poutine, and while skis are the flashy way to get around in the snow, snowshoes take a more methodical, functional approach that open the wilderness at a pace that allows you to take in nature’s details.
Even if you’ve never strapped on a pair of snowshoes, you’re probably not familiar with its allure—walking effortlessly across a sea of pristine new-fallen snow, through wilderness transformed into a soft white wonderland, surrounded by a hush so complete you can almost hear the snowflakes dancing on the breeze as they drift down from grey skies above.
Best of all, anyone can participate, no training necessary. If you can walk, you can snowshoe. Just put one foot in front of the other. And its accessible for people of all ages and athletic abilities. That makes snowshoeing an ideal winter outing for families.
As a result of the ease of entry, snowshoeing has seen huge growth in popularity over the last decade. If you don’t already love winter, snowshoeing might just be how you fall in love with the season.
Ontario is blessed with a wealth of marked snowshoe or mixed-use trails. Some of the finest are at Abbey Gardens in Haliburton, which boasts 5 kms of trails passing through a mixture of woods that provides shelter from the wind and open fields with warming sunlight. The trails are groomed, marked and, best of all, use is free of charge. Snowshoes are available to rent for $10 a pair if you don’t have your own. Guided hikes are available for groups of over ten people at a cost of $10 per person.
The trails are dog friendly as well, making for a true family experience. Dogs must be leashed, and you must ensure to clean up after it.
Younger children will enjoy the new Chickadee Trail, a brief excursion ideal for little legs. The trail features a charming children’s story at the trailhead and interpretive signage about chickadees along the trail. You can purchase sunflower seeds for $20 before heading out so children can try hand-feeding these friendly, flittering birds. The trail ends in a sitting area ideal for birdwatching and enjoying the tranquility of nature.
Children will also love the Winter Scramble where, using a provided map, you explore the property in search of clues that will help you uncover a secret message. Successfully decode the message and you’ll receive a free hot chocolate at the Food Hub.
Or just enjoy the experience of crunching atop powdery snow and listening to the winter-hushed wilderness.