Snowshoeing is a large part of Canada’s history dating back to First Nations peoples that used snowshoes for winter travel. Many of the first snowshoes in Canada were carved from birch or hard ash but these days modern metal and sporty plastic snowshoes are available with easy adjustments instead of heavy straps. Snowshoes are actually quite magical as they float on top of deep snow so you can literally walk across the surface without sinking in. They distribute a person’s weight over a large area giving this phenomenon the name ‘flotation’. Snowshoeing was very popular in the mid 1800’s and was a favourite winter activity. These days if you want to get back to nature and enjoy everything that winter has to offer, snowshoeing may be the perfect winter activity for your family. If your child can walk they will be able to strap on a pair of snowshoes! Winter road trips to snowshoeing destinations provide spectacular scenery of some of Canada’s greatest destinations such as Algonquin Park in Northern Ontario, Moose Mountain in Saskatchewan, and the Canadian Rockies of Alberta. Dress warm, ensure your car is ready for winter driving and have fun exploring our great country in winter. Be sure to check the websites for specific details and driving directions!
This driving destination located in south central Ontario is great for a winter adventure! Highway 60, the parks only major highway, is open in winter and well maintained. The Algonquin Visitors Centre is open all year with full services during the winter months on weekends. This huge park (7630 square kilometers) has lots of deep snow making it a great place to snowshoe and see wildlife in their natural environment. Snowshoeing is possible throughout the park and they also have specific marked trails. You can also check out their Old Railway Trail that runs 16 km from Rock Lake Campground to Cache Lake.
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This is an ideal destination to snowshoe under the stars with your whole family! Gatineau Park is a conservation area and outdoor recreation park, there 60 km (37 mi.) of snowshoeing trails. The park is located where the Canadian Shield meets the St. Lawrence Lowlands and the Ottawa River meets the Gatineau River. On Friday evenings until March 11th you can join Friends of Gatineau Park for a tour and learn all about the plants and animals living off the land while you are snowshoeing. You can bring your own snowshoes or rent them, and children’s snowshoes are free, even more reason to make it a family adventure.
This provincial park is located in southeastern Saskatchewan and is ideal for snowshoeing. There are 10 km of wonderful scenic snowshoeing trails that will take your family past lakes, forests of aspen, green ash and birch trees, and you may see wildlife roaming in nature. In the 1800’s the forests of Moose Mountain was home to many First Nations peoples and one of Saskatchewan’s first provincial parks. Today it’s a great driving destination and you can explore everything this unique winter location has to offer such as the town of Kenossee Lake, a town inside the park.
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Where: British Columbia
A road trip to Whistler is a great way to enjoy a winter wonderland with your family. This resort town hosts over two million people annually. There are multiple guided tours to choose from or you can venture out into the wilderness alone. Snowshoes are available for rent in all sizes, including for kids, or bring your own to explore the deep forest trails where you may come across wild birds and animals. There is a lodge to warm up if you or your little ones get cold. Families with older kids may enjoy a multi-day excursion to Callaghan Valley – for more challenging winter exploration.
The Canadian Rockies of Alberta have some truly unique and exciting snowshoeing trails, in fact, it’s known as the adventure capital of Canada. There are several National Parks to choose from, one of them being Banff. The scenery is outstanding and you will probably see many wild animals on your journey. You can join one of the daily guided snowshoe tours led by Canadian Rockies Adventures or even hire a guide for a private family tour. If you are brave enough there is a two hour night trek where you can snowshoe under the stars by a frozen pond.
Where: Newfoundland and Labrador
Gros Morne National Park, the second largest national park in Atlantic Canada, and a world heritage site. It’s located just off route 430 near Rocky Harbour, which is easily accessible by car. The mountain views are magnificent and you may even see wild moose and caribou. You can snowshoe through thick boreal forests and there are multiple trails to choose from, some less strenuous than others if you are with small children. By late January the snow is quite solid making it the perfect time to venture out to Gros Morne National Park in the most easterly province of Canada.
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Muskoka has many exciting snowshoe trails to choose from and they are considered some of the best in Ontario. It’s about a two and a half hour drive from Toronto. Some Muskoka resorts even offer snowshoes as part of your overnight stay with trails right on site – how truly Canadian! There are acres of snowy forests that your family can explore with up to two feet of snow. After an adventurous day exploring the winter wilderness you will find plenty of cozy lodges and restaurants to choose from to warm up with a hearty well deserved meal and drink.
Drive and snowshoe safely!