Embracing winter in the big city doesn’t have to be months of Netflix and hibernation. Urbanites wanting to keep active without having to trek far afield can find several parks close to home with trails for snowshoeing (and several which offer rentals too).
Pop on the puffer jacket and ditch the excuses—get outside and make tracks through the fresh powder.
Gatineau Park, credit Ottawa Tourism
Toronto Island Park – head over to the island in winter by taking the ferry to Wards Island and following the pathways to Centre Island for an easy trail with views of the city and Lake Ontario. Bonus: no hills and a perfect spot to get into the rhythm of snowshoes.
Toronto City golf courses – during the winter months, eight snow loops are created on five city-owned golf courses like Dentonia Park in Scarborough and the Humber Valley in Etobicoke, making it even easier for residents to get outside on their snowshoes once the snow flies.
Ottawa Gatineau Park – close to 80 kilometres of snowshoe trails are available, plus 11 kilometres of groomed winter walking and hiking trails. Areas for winter activities are patrolled by volunteers. Start at the Gatineau Park Visitors Centre on the Sugarbush Trail for a three-kilometre walk through the forest.
Ottawa Kichi Sibi Winter Trail – renamed for the Algonquin name for the Ottawa River in October 2021, this groomed trail offers 16 kilometres of paths shared between snowshoeing, winter biking and cross country skiing from the Canadian War Museum to Westboro Beach.
Barrie Horseshoe Valley Trails – reserve a day pass at the Cross Country Centre across from the main resort to access the Copeland Forest on the edge of the ski resort, for an easy loop like the four-kilometre Beaver Pond Loop or the more challenging four-kilometre Ridge Trail Loop.
Guelph Guelph Lake Trail – a network created by the Guelph Off Road Bicycling Association, during the winter months some trails are available for snowshoeing, including several trails along the lakeshore which makes for some unforgettable scenery for a hike.
ParcJeanDrapeau-Crédit FR © Musée Stewart-EN Credit © Stewart Museum
Quebec City Plains of Abraham Park – make tracks across history while snowshoeing in this 240-acre park and former battlefield during the country’s Seven Years War. Regularly offering cultural programming throughout the winter, the park makes for a great family outing.
Montreal Parc Jean Drapeau - wander the two kilometres of wooded trails near Mt. Boulle and learn the history of Ile Saint Helene via 10 billboards created by the Stewart Museum or go see the contemporary art sculpture collection of the park including works by sculptors Henry Hunt, Alexander Calder and Sebastian.
Montreal Parc-nature de la Pointe-aux-Prairies –located at the east end of island, this 261-hectare urban space provides 6.7 kilometres of groomed snowshoe paths through fields and forests every winter. Free admission for all.
Sherbrooke Mont Bellevue – the largest park in the city is ready when the snow comes, transforming into a ski resort and snow park. With over 10 kilometres of snowshoeing trails on offers for locals and visitors, there is also hourly equipment rental options.
Trois Rivieres Energie CMB - an outdoor centre located in the west end of the city offers several winter activities including fat biking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing on numerous trails, with equipment rental also available.
St John’s Bowring Park Brad Clark (Flickr cc by nd 2.0)
St. John’s Pippy Park – the park’s North Park Lodge becomes a hub of activity with snowshoeing as well as skiing and ski lessons offered from January until the end of the winter season. On-site rental is available and trails are lit for evening use for time beneath the stars.
St. John’s Bowring Park – in January and February, the Winter Activity Centre welcomes enthusiasts to snowshoe at the park, with hourly rentals available for all ages. A great option for newbie snowshoers of any age.
Cornerbrook Blow Me Down Trails – offering shared trail space with cross country skiers and skate skiers, these groomed trails allow exploration anywhere in the trail system and rentals available every day. Monday to Friday snowshoe by moonlight to see the night sky until 9pm.
Stephenville Whale Back Nordic Ski Club – snowshoers can plot their own distances with the club’s map with a one-kilometre loop on the Bunny Hop perfect for starting with little ones or go for it with the combined 9.4 kilometres of Snowy Owl and Abbey Road for a winter workout.
Killarney Winter Trail - vanprez
Saint John Inside Out Nature Centre – a four-season activity hot spot, in winter the centre offers snowshoeing at the Lily Lake Pavilion in Rockwood Park, minutes from the downtown. There are 55 trails available in the 2200 acres of lakes and parkland; check the schedule for guided moonlit snowshoe walks.
Fredericton Killarney Lake Park – with 20 kilometres of trails accessible year-round along the lakeshore, in winter the groomed trails are shared between cross country skiers and snowshoers. Don’t have snowshoes? Pop into a branch of the Fredericton Public Library to sign out a pair for the day.
Fredericton Odell Park – over 300 acres are dedicated to this city park and arboretum, with one of Canada’s oldest growth forests, including some trees close to 400 years old and over 400 protected hemlock trees. Snowshoe and ski the 16 kilometres of trails through the historic forest.
Charlottetown Victoria Park – the multiple trails found within the capital city’s largest park make for a perfect spot for beginners to explore on snowshoes during the winter months. At the Ball Field Clubhouse, there are limited snowshoes available for free rental and lessons every Sunday afternoon in winter.
Summerside Heather Moyse Heritage Park – with groomed trails created every winter for snowshoeing, get outside with a trek through this park named for the city’s beloved two-time Olympic gold medalist, home to numerous native island plants and trees.