Stellar XC ski networks in Muskoka

Author: [ trailpeak ]   Contact Author: trailpeakThu Feb 26 19:13:13 UTC 2015

You may live near a great XC ski trail system, the local gem. I live near the Gatineau park which has over 200km of groomed trails. It's great to get there each week in winter, yet, there is nothing like a ski trip to check out new destinations. Different scenery, terrain, and and views are the perks. In particular during winter 2015, I've been seeking out some great groomed ski trail networks in eastern Canadian wilderness settings.

Earlier in 2015, trailpeak visited the Quebec city Carnival and Duchesnay XC ski resort operated by SEPAQ. In late February, despite record cold temperatures, we couldn't resist Huntsville Ontario and nearby Algonquin park.

Huntsville is in the famed Muskokas and very close to the highlands of Algonquin park. Huntsville offers a range of accommodations, and we opted for the Deerhurst resort, site of a former G8 summit. It has great winter rates, and very importantly, a pool area with hot tub for unthawing!

The goal was to ski a large portion of two stellar ski networks nearby, the Arrowhead Provincial Park with 53km of exceptionally well groomed trails, and, the groomed Fen lake trails at Algonquin Park's west gate. The trails are groomed in Algonquin Park, but it's a wilderness setting and you should be prepared for it.

A bonus was the 3km of groomed classic and skate ski trails of the Deerhurst resort XC trails, ideal for a family ski without any challenges. I skied the Deerhust trails in the morning for a warmup, then, it was off to Arrowhead to sample their best trails. I skied three of the Arrowhead loops and was more than impressed with their trail grooming. You've got everything from beginner to expert loops. After the 5.3 km lake loop circuit with 2.5km Roe loop to start (see GPS map), I skied the Hardwood Hill trail for speed and views. It zooms you up, down and around it's 3km loop in just 30 minutes or less. You can spend a few days at Arrowhead. Skate skiers will be happy as will the classic skier.

The next day it was over to Algonquin park, at just a 30 minute drive from the resort, I spent a few hours skiing to the half-way point cabin on the Fen lake loop, and I enjoyed the wilderness feel and scenery of Algonquin park. There weren't many others on the groomed trails, it could be that it was one of the coldest days on one of the coldest winters in years. I enjoyed the epic feel of the adventure just the same, or perhaps more so. The new warming hut is a welcome stopover for lunch and heat.

Should you be looking for new XC ski zones that will not dissapoint, consider Huntsville as your "base camp". Sure, you can stay in an Algonquin park Yurt, but, even the hardiest of us enjoy a resort setting in winter time! The comfortable rooms and hot tub for the apres-ski unthaw were the difference makers for me, with winter 2015 being one of the coldest on record!


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