Snowboarding for beginners in Ontario
Ontario’s beginner-friendly hills, gentle slopes and outstanding snow schools are perfect for learning how to snowboard.
If you are just getting into snowboarding for the first time, find out what clothing you should wear to stay warm and comfortable on the slopes, how to get lessons and where to rent snowboarding equipment.
What you need to wear for snowboarding
Maximizing your fun on the hill is all about staying warm and dry in Ontario’s winter weather, which can include snow, rain and wind.
Dressing in layers is the best way to regulate your temperature and stay dry so you don’t get chilled. Layering works like clothing climate control. In extreme cold, add another insulating layer; if it’s mild or you’re starting to sweat, remove a layer or choose a lighter mid-layer.
For winter weather, you’ll need at least three layers:
- A base layer to keep you dry: Wear thin, fitted, long-sleeve tops and bottoms (also called long underwear) worn next to your skin that are quick-drying and moisture-wicking, meaning they move perspiration away from your skin to keep you dry and warm. Look for base layers made from wool or lightweight synthetics like capilene, nylon or polyester. Avoid cotton, which takes a long time to dry and will actually make you colder. Leggings and long-sleeve shirts made for running and other sports are good base layer choices.
- A middle layer to retain body heat and keep you warm: Synthetic fleeces, wool sweaters and long johns, and puffy jackets and vests are good cozy mid-layers that will act as insulators.
- An outer layer to protect you from precipitation and wind: Wear a wind- and waterproof jacket. Most winter jackets are also insulated to give you some additional warmth. As a beginner snowboarder, you’ll be spending a lot of time sitting and kneeling in the snow, so waterproof, durable snowpants are a must.
In addition, you’ll want to wear:
- Warm, waterproof gloves and socks: Keep your hands warm and feet toasty inside your snowboard boots. A neck warmer and thin beanie or toque worn underneath your snowboard helmet can also add an extra bit of coziness on the coldest days.
- A properly fitted snowboarding helmet: If you don’t own a snowboarding helmet, most rental packages in Ontario include a helmet along with your board and boots.
- A pair of goggles: While not essential, goggles make it easier to see when there’s windblown snow in the air and the tinted lens also enhances definition on cloudy days, so you’re less likely to get tripped up on uneven snow. On bright sunny days, sunglasses or goggles will help protect your eyes from the glare of the sun reflecting off the brilliant snow.
- Wrist guards: Available at sporting goods stores, low-profile guards protect your wrists during falls and can be worn inside your snowboarding gloves.
Where to rent snowboarding equipment
On-site equipment rentals at most Ontario snowboarding hills and resorts make it easy for new and occasional riders to hit the slopes.
Rental packages typically include a snowboard, boots and helmet, with some hills also offering discounts on combined equipment rental and beginner lift ticket packages. Larger resorts like Blue Mountain also rent snowboarding jackets, pants and goggles.
Rental prices average from $50 to $70 per day for adult equipment packages and $35 to $50 per day for kids and youth packages.
In addition to slopeside equipment rentals, you’ll find a wide variety of rentals at independent ski and snowboard shops in Ontario’s top snowboarding destinations, such as:
Location: 279 Mountain Road, Collingwood
Location: 774 Mountain Road, The Blue Mountains
Location: 8575 Keele Street, Vaughan
Location: 278 Geneva Street, St. Catharines
Contact the ski and snowboard shop before your day out on the slopes to find out if pre-booking is required for rentals, to avoid disappointment
Where to take snowboarding lessons
Snowboarding can be a challenging sport to learn on your own.
Making your first turns or improving your skills is a lot easier with the guidance and encouragement of a professional instructor. Private lessons will give you the most one-on-one time with an instructor. Snowboard group lessons work well, too. They can be economically priced and provide a chance to meet other riders.
Nearly 50 snowboard destinations across Ontario offer lessons for new and progressing riders. Find Ontario’s top-rated snowboarding programs at these resorts:
Nestled in the Nor’wester Mountains, Loch Lomond boasts some of the best snowboarding in Northern Ontario with a comprehensive lesson program to match. Choose from private and group lessons for all ages and abilities. Half-day, evening and two-day intensive classes are available.
Location: 1800 Loch Lomond Road, Thunder Bay
The snowboard program at this extinct volcano in Northern Ontario offers private and group lessons for all ages and skill levels and a three-day intro to park riding camp for youth ages 6 to 16.
Location: 5050 Kamiskotia Road, Timmins
Big, vertical, exceptional snowfall and a top-notch terrain park make Searchmont Resort a favourite for riders looking to take their snowboard skills to the next level. The resort’s snow school can get you there, with lessons for all ages and abilities.
Eastern Ontario’s premier family downhill area offers lots of lesson options for first timers and more advanced riders of all ages. The resort’s Snow School Director is the first woman in Canada to be awarded the highest teaching certificate level (Level 4) in both skiing and snowboarding.
Location: 577 Ski Hill Road, Pakenham, Arnprior
Blue Mountain is the largest and best-known mountain resort in Ontario, with snowboard instruction for all ages, skill levels and schedules. Try their newbie package if it’s your first time strapping into a board. With four terrain parks to explore, the resort’s various freestyle programs challenge intermediate to advanced riders.
Expanded night riding and snowmaking have made this popular family resort an even better destination for developing your snowboarding skills. With over 100 instructors, the resort’s bustling snow school delivers private lessons for all ages and abilities.
Location: 1101 Horseshoe Valley Road West, Barrie
The award-winning ski and snowboard school at this family resort just north of Pickering and Ajax is best known for its talented crew of specialized children’s instructors. There are also plenty of coaching options for adults and more experienced riders right up to Level 4.
Location: 1220 Lake Ridge Road, Uxbridge
As a snowboarder, it’s your responsibility to learn the rules of the resort where you’re riding. But there is also some basic etiquette that applies everywhere. Keep these guidelines in mind before hitting the slopes:
- Know which slopes are right for your skill level and snowboard only on those. If you find yourself on a slope that is too difficult, keep your snowboard on and sidestep down the hill.
- Stay on marked paths and never go past the snowboard area boundary or into a closed area.
- Pay attention to warning signs such as "Slow skiing area" and "Caution."
- Learn to stop before you ride at high speeds or on steeper hills.
- Before you start down a hill or merge onto a trail, look uphill to make sure no one is coming towards you.
- Skiers and snowboarders in front of you have the right of way. Keep your distance and stay in control. If you are higher up the slope and going faster than the person below, it is your responsibility to get past safely.
- Never stop in the middle of a trail (move off to the side instead) or in any spot where you can't be seen from above, such as below a drop-off or in the landing zone of a jump.
- Be courteous to the hill’s employees, other riders and skiers.
Best snowboarding hills for beginners
Once you’ve learned the basics and feel confident enough to start snowboarding, you’ll want to get out and practice on hills and slopes designed for new snowboarders.
Perched between two lofty peaks in the Laurentian Mountains, Antoine Mountain is an undiscovered gem with 192 metres of vertical and loads of natural snowfall.
Along with stunning views of the Ottawa River Valley and Ontario’s longest run—an easy and scenic 2.9-kilometre cruiser aptly named Lookout—40% of the terrain is dedicated to beginners. The mountain’s updated rental facility houses a Burton snowboard fleet and a friendly snow school with lessons for all ages and abilities.
Antoine Mountain’s après offerings include a renovated chalet with live music every Saturday and heaping helpings of authentic poutine. The diverse accommodations of North Bay are less than an hour’s drive away, or you can stay local in the magical winter forest of Nature’s Harmony Ecolodge. Just 10 minutes from the hill, the ecolodge offers a unique array of log cabins, glamping domes and cozy yurts, along with a sauna and snow tubing.
Location: Highway 656, Mattawa
A family-run ski and snowboard area that has been operating for over 60 years, Mount Baldy is beloved by Thunder Bay riders for its abundant natural snow and old-school vibes.
For the 2023 season, a speedy new quad chair will whisk riders to the top of Baldy’s 145-metre vertical drop. The hill’s 10 kilometres of slopes skew towards novice and intermediate riders, including a gently 1.6-kilometre-long hill just for beginners. Rentals and lessons are available on-site.
Warm up in the chalet after your ride, then head into Thunder Bay for accommodations and dining. The historic Courthouse Hotel overlooks the city’s harbourfront with breathtaking views of the iconic Sleeping Giant and Lake Superior beyond.
Location: 375 Mount Baldy Road, Shuniah
The friendly and welcoming vibes at Boogie Mountain make this family hill perfect for beginners and young riders. The hill offers 12 runs serviced by a T-bar and handle tow, as well as two snow parks that welcome aspiring freestylers.
Where Boogie Mountain really shines is in its rental and lesson programs, which make snowboarding super accessible to new riders. Take advantage of seasonal rental packages, evening snowboard lesson socials, and a range of private and group instruction.
Après activities and accommodations are limited in Espanola. Enjoy the peace and natural beauty from a winterized lakefront cottage at Lake Apsey Resort or head to Sudbury (45 minutes) for more hotel and dining options.
Location: Bass Lake Road, Espanola
Nestled in a deep valley just north of Barrie, Horseshoe Resort consistently ranks as one of the best hills in Ontario for learning how to snowboard.
The resort’s acclaimed snow sports school has over 100 instructors specializing in private lessons to take you from zero to hero in no time. With 29 beginner- and intermediate-friendly runs, there’s lots to explore once you leave the bunny hill.
Horseshoe offers loads of other fun winter activities like snow tubing, fat biking, ice skating, Nordic skiing and snowmobiling, as well as a spa, if all that sounds too energetic.
There’s also convenient slopeside lodging—including newly renovated condos at the base of the hill—and great dining choices, and Horseshoe is an ideal weekend or vacation destination.
Location: 1101 Horseshoe Valley Road West, Barrie
What this city-owned ski and snowboard area in the heart of Sudbury lacks in vertical elevation or flashy facilities it makes up for in convenience and cost. A full-day lift ticket is just $40, and riders can also purchase passes to ride three different Sudbury area hills: Adanac, Lively and Capreol. Adanac offers five runs serviced by an efficient quad chair, a beginner area with a carpet lift, equipment rentals, and a snow school for all ages and skill levels.
The city of Sudbury provides a lively après scene and diverse accommodation options. Stay near the hill at the Hilton Garden Inn or TownePlace Suites by Marriott, or check in downtown at the Radisson Hotel Sudbury and enjoy the Big Nickel’s restaurants and pubs.
Location: 744 Beatrice Crescent, Sudbury
Enjoying pastoral views of the rolling hills of Hockley Valley, this full-service family resort is a popular destination for riders from Toronto and the surrounding area. Those new to the sport will find a dedicated beginner area with surface lifts, rentals and lessons, while 16 runs and a modest 114-metre vertical drop keep novice and intermediate riders happy.
Overlooking the vast, frozen expanse of Lake Temiskaming, this Northern Ontario hill boasts over two kilometres of mellow, beginner-friendly slopes. Tri-Town is a volunteer-run, non-profit organization and lift tickets at this winter playground are a bargain at just $35 per day.
Along with skiing and riding, you’ll also find snow tubing and snowshoeing trails for even more winter fun. Rentals and lessons are available on-site.
The communities of New Liskeard and Haileybury offer dining and accommodation options for out-of-town visitors. For convenience and comfort just minutes from the hill, try the Waterfront Inn or the lakeside Leisure Inn.
Location: West Timiskaming District
Après ride, relive the day’s adventures around a warm fire with friends or family. Whatever your appetite, Ontario’s snow resorts deliver.
Last updated: January 3, 2023