A woman cross-country skiing along a well-maintained forest trail.

Hiawatha Highlands Winter | City of Sault Ste. Marie

Top cross-country trails for experienced skiers in Ontario

A woman cross-country skiing along a well-maintained forest trail.

Hiawatha Highlands Winter | City of Sault Ste. Marie

Here’s a short list of some of Ontario’s finest trail networks for cross-country skiing, ranging from the wilderness fringes of Algonquin and Algoma to vibrant Nordic ski clubs with impeccably groomed tracks and epic destinations hosting Canada’s best loppets and races.

Algoma Country

Stokely Creek Lodge, Goulais River

Goulais River’s Stokely Creek Lodge is Ontario’s ultimate destination for experienced cross-country skiers. It offers over 100 kilometres of groomed and backcountry cross-country ski trails sprawling across a huge landscape of wilderness lakes, waterfalls, mixed forests and some of Ontario’s tallest summits.

The lodge is located about a half-hour drive north of Sault Ste. Marie, positioned right in the crosshairs of the Lake Superior snowbelt in beautiful Algoma Country. A typical winter at Stokely Creek sees at least two metres of snow accumulation.

You’ll find more than 50 kilometres of trails groomed for both skate and classic skiing, as well as narrower paths groomed exclusively for classic skiing and ungroomed backcountry trails.

Several warming cabins scattered across the area make for great destination skiing. A weeklong visit is barely enough time to experience the full diversity of Stokely’s trails and terrain.

Highlights:

  • the majority of Stokely skiers stay on-site in the Scandinavian-style cabins, chalets and lodge, where gourmet meals are included with your stay
     
  • add some variety to your Stokely visit by hiking the area’s vast network of groomed snowshoe trails
     
  • Stokely offers limited classic skis and snowshoes rentals, or for a wider selection, check out Velorution in Sault Ste. Marie
     
  • sample an authentic taste of Italy in Sault Ste. Marie: Fratelli’s Kitchen & Pizzeria and Giovanni’s Restaurant offer family-friendly and upscale dining, respectively, in side-by-side locations on Great Northern Road

Hiawatha Highlands, Sault Ste. Marie

You don’t have to go far from the city centre to find epic Nordic skiing in Sault Ste. Marie.

Hiawatha Highlands has a long history of dedicated winter enthusiasts, spearheaded by the Soo Finnish Nordic Ski Club. The area’s trails were originally blazed by hard-core cross-country skiers over 50 years ago and have since expanded to include 35 kilometres of carefully groomed classic and skate skiing trails as well as a 14-kilometre backcountry route to Mabel Lake.

There are three distinct trail networks from Hiawatha’s base on Landslide Road. The Red Pine offers exciting hills and wild scenery and is perfect for adventurous intermediate skiers. The Crystal provides the steepest climbs and descents and technical corners, making it a good choice for experts. Lastly, the Pinder provides a mellower skiing experience with gentle hills for beginners and families.

Highlights:

  • a wide selection of cross-country skis are available on-site at Hiawatha Highlands, or check out more rental selections nearby at Velorution
     
  • hot meals are served in the lodge on weekends, or enjoy coffee and a gourmet lunch at Feeding Your Soul Cafe in uptown Sault Ste. Marie off Second Line—a trendy cafe that caters to a range of diets and offers plenty of homemade baking
     
  • the Water Tower Inn offers incredible rooms, dining and spa experiences at the corner of Great Northern Road and Second Line, on the route to Hiawatha
     
  • if you also enjoy winter cycling, check out Hiawatha’s 20 kilometres of dedicated fat bike singletrack

Superior Country

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Pass Lake

This iconic Ontario Park located on Highway 587, a 60-minute drive east of Thunder Bay, features rugged topography, stunning Lake Superior lookouts, and 50 kilometres of groomed trails—perfect for adventurous cross-country skiers.

The trailhead is located at the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park Visitor Centre on Marie Louise Lake. If you’re up for a challenge, pack an energy bar and check out the Pickerel and Burma Loop, one of the best routes for skate and classic skiing in Northwestern Ontario. Beginners and families will also enjoy the easier trails around the park campground.

Highlights:

  • the Sleeping Giant Loppet, held annually in March, is one of the premier ski events in North America, running recreational races with distances up to 50 kilometres
     
  • Thunder Bay is a Nordic skiing hotbed: besides the world-class trails at Sleeping Giant, you’ll find another 50 kilometres of perfectly groomed trails within city limits at Kamview Nordic Centre (ski rentals are available) and Lappe Nordic, as well as a smaller network of trails at Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park
     
  • stay at the Valhalla Inn in Thunder Bay or, for a more intimate experience minutes from the Sleeping Giant trails, book a cabin at Beyond the Giant Nature Retreat
     
  • Sleeping Giant Provincial Park offers five cabins for winter stays at the Marie Louise Lake campground
     
  • there are plenty of great dining options in Thunder Bay, ranging from authentic Finnish pancakes at Kangas Sauna (where you can also have a relaxing steam bath) to upscale fare at Caribou Restaurant + Wine Bar

Northeastern Ontario

Kivi Park, Sudbury

Natural greenspace abounds in the city of Greater Sudbury, with Kivi Park being a prime example.

This 480-acre (194 hectare) area features outstanding cross-country skiing, with 35 kilometres of groomed trails located just minutes from Sudbury’s Four Corners, south of Highway 17. Kivi offers on-site rentals and options for all skiing levels, including families.

Highlights:

Walden Cross Country, Sudbury

This active ski club located just west of downtown Sudbury is worthy of a standalone description.

Walden Cross Country maintains two sets of Nordic ski trails. The Walden Trails in Naughton, located on Highway 55, features 23 kilometres of groomed classic and skate options with a cozy chalet for warming up, along with a full rental shop and waxing shack.

The Beaver Lake Trails, with 5.5 kilometres of trails groomed for classic skiing, are accessed via the Beaver Lake Community Centre, 25 kilometres west of Sudbury off Highway 17.

Highlights:

  • in addition to skiing at Walden Cross Country, the main trailhead in Naughton also offers more than 15 kilometres of fat bike singletrack and snowshoe trails
     
  • book a heated yurt or cabin at nearby Windy Lake Provincial Park for a uniquely northern cross-country ski holiday
     
  • for upscale dining in Sudbury, check out Cedar Nest or replenish your calories at M.I.C.
     
  • there’s no reason to be thirsty in Sudbury: check out offerings from four local breweries, including Spacecraft Brewery, Stack Brewing, 46 North Brewing and Optimist Brewery

Porcupine Ski Runners, Timmins

If the Northern Ontario community of Timmins is known for one thing, it’s beautiful, long winters.

Timmins is a great Ontario cross-country ski destination to kickstart your season with early snow; the trails are usually open by the beginning of December or sooner.

Get a sense of the season by planning a cross-country ski vacation in this easily accessible and surprisingly vibrant city located about two hours north of Sudbury. The volunteer-run club Porcupine Ski Runners has been carefully crafting and maintaining over 60 kilometres of Nordic ski route options for over 45 years.

Easily accessible from Highway 101, you’ll find excellent options for both classic and skate skiing, including 3.5 kilometres of lighted trails for night skiing (if you can’t get enough kicking and gliding during the day).

Highlights:

  • on-site facilities include a chalet-style lodge and rentals
     
  • enjoy a relaxing stay at the Cedar Meadows Resort and Spa in Timmins
     
  • Radical Gardens is a popular Timmins eatery with a changing menu featuring fresh and healthy fare

Temiskaming Nordic, Temiskaming Shores

Just like Timmins, long winters are the norm in Temiskaming Shores.

Temiskaming Nordic stretches the ski season even further by taking advantage of a sandy landscape that makes it possible for groomers to operate on thin early season snow, sometimes as early as November.

The club maintains 20 kilometres of classic and skate trails with a trailhead chalet on Portage Bay Road, located off Highway 11 south of Temiskaming Shores. Diverse terrain and challenging hills and corners have made Temiskaming Nordic the site of several provincial-level ski races.

Highlights:

  • rentals are available on-site, including a limited amount of race-calibre gear, and the chalet offers snacks and kitchen facilities for preparing simple hot drinks and lunches
     
  • Temiskaming Shores embraces winter, with plenty of options for snowshoeing as well as a waterfront skating path
     
  • hotels in Temiskaming Shores include the Holiday Inn Express & Suites, the Quality Inn and the Waterfront Inn; for a unique stay, check out the Presidents’ Suites for upscale B&B-style accommodations

Explorer’s Edge

Algonquin Provincial Park

Ontario’s favourite provincial park offers a wide array of cross-country ski options for winter enthusiasts.

Algonquin’s best trails for experienced cross-country skiers are located near Whitney and the Park’s eastern boundary on Highway 60. Here, the Leaf Lake network provides 45 kilometres of pristine classic tracks in a wilderness setting of hardwood forest and backcountry lakes.

Warming huts along the way feature woodstoves, allowing adventurous skiers to warm up and enjoy lunch in quintessentially northern cabins. Meanwhile, the Minnesing Wilderness Ski Trail, located on Highway 60 about an hour east of Huntsville, offers a true backcountry experience for those prepared to ski and explore ungroomed trails in a seriously wild setting.

Highlights:

  • Algonquin Outfitters at Oxtongue Lake provides cross-country ski and snowshoe rentals
     
  • several Algonquin Provincial Park campgrounds along the Highway 60 corridor allow winter camping, with options for tenting as well as heated yurts
     
  • Oxtongue Lake Cottages are open year-round and located on Highway 60, minutes from the park’s west gate
     
  • grab a fresh-baked sweet or savory snack at Henrietta’s Pine Bakery in Dwight

Hardwood Ski and Bike, Barrie

Located just north of Barrie, Hardwood Ski and Bike is one of Ontario’s premier cross-country ski destinations for good reason.

Hardwood is barely an hour north of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and is easily accessible from Highway 400.

What the area lacks in expansive terrain it makes up for in thoughtfully designed, seriously challenging trails for classic and skate skiing—as well as ample lake-effect snow. For heart-pumping skate skiing, check out the 10-kilometre Vancouver Trail, which features plenty of ups, downs and technical corners—many of which are taken at high speed. Meanwhile, the 12-kilometre Sochi is great for classic. In total there are 75 kilometres of route options.

Highlights:

If you’re still learning the basics of cross-country skiing, Ontario has great beginner-friendly trails as well as cross-country ski lesson opportunities:

Beginner-friendly cross-country ski trails in Ontario

Last updated: January 3, 2023

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